Sunday, April 7, 2013

You be the teacher

I am SO excited to go to school tomorrow.  My algebra kids are teaching our current unit so first period all week I get to sit and be the student while they teach.  I know that the idea of having kids teach is far from new, but it is new for me.  I always stayed away from doing things like this because worried too much that the kids wouldn't do as good a job teaching as I could.  I'm very particular with how I want things to be so it's hard for me to give up the control.  I was talking with another teacher who is doing something similar with her kids and it got me excited so I figured what the heck...if it doesn't go well then I'll just fill in the gaps later.

Well they haven't taught anything yet, but I am so far I am LOVING what they are working on.  I split the class into 5 groups of 3-4 kids each and gave each group one of the properties of exponents.  I told them that they can't just tell the class the rule, they need to teach the kids why it works.

First just a bit of background on my kids:  They are almost all performing arts students so most of them LOVE to put on a show.  They absolutely love any opportunity to get up in front of the class.  They have almost all of their classes together too which means they are extremely comfortable with each other.  They are also my advanced class so for the most part they are pretty motivated on their own.  There are also a couple of them that want to be teachers.  This is not at all to say that it wouldn't work for other kids, just that even before starting I knew that they would be really into the whole idea.

First of all, I chose groups and topics strategically.  The kids then used their textbook and some tutorial videos on my livebinder to first learn and practice their topic.  They were then responsible for coming up with a do now, ISN page, practice and an assessment on their topic.  Their ISN page needed to explain the topic as clearly as possible and needed to also show why it works.  After their lesson they will need to provide me with a reflection on how well the class learned their topic and proof to back it up.

Mostly I loved some of the conversations that occurred last week.  One group got into a heated debate over whether they should give the rule first and then show why it works or if they should explain it and then give the rule.  They asked me how to create foldables.  I taught them how to use the equation editor in Microsoft Office.  They discussed whether they should give a do now that is basic or if they should give a do now that the kids can't really do and then return to it at the end of the period to show that they had learned.  They talked about what belonged on the left and right sides of their ISN.  They talked about color coding and how to use it to effectively.  We got to talk about the purpose of assessments and what counts as an assessment.  One boy asked me if they could give a short quiz and then create a bar graph of the scores to use in their reflection.

Some groups are doing textbook practice.  Some are doing games.  Some are using communicators.  Some are giving homework.  Some are not.  Some are showing videos while others are just explaining.  Some are using the iPad, some are using the whiteboard and some are using the projector.  A couple groups created seating charts to ensure that the certain people don't start talking.  They've asked me if they can come in early before class to get everything set up.

One girl asked me if we could do this all the time because she has never felt as confident with any topic as she does with hers.  She also told me that I make this job look really easy.  I love it.

I was hesitant about doing this because I felt like it might take up too much time.  I could have gone through all of the exponent rules last week and been on to something new this week.  It did take up some time, but the things that they were talking about and doing last week totally made it worth it.  They even took work home without me telling them to.  So while I could have gone through the content quicker, we would have missed out on all the other things that they learned last week that were not specifically related to exponents but still valuable.

Can't wait to share what they teach me this week!


  1. I can't wait to hear how it all turns out. Giving up control on the classroom is a scary thing, I fought it for years....but once you do you definitely see the added benefits of all the other real world skills that they learn! Love your blog!


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