Yesterday our math facilitator, Kelly McCrory, came for another visit. She started by watching our review of math centres. One of the last centres to be introduced was a money activity on the computers in the pod. The students were using IXL to review coin amounts. I gave the Grade 2 students a choice of five different activities that they could do. One student came up to do a demonstration problem with the class.
As I should have expected, this student managed to get one of the hardest problems to demonstrate. I saw the question, and I was tempted to make him go back and choose another activity altogether. I resisted doing that, but what I didn’t resist doing was jumping in with help. I knew the problem was difficult. I anticipated that he didn’t know what to do, but I didn’t ask him if he was struggling. I didn’t ask him to explain what the question was asking. I didn’t ask him to pick a friend to help out. I didn’t ask him to tell me how he would start the question.
Instead, I did what I know that I shouldn’t have done: I gave him a strategy, and I told him what to do. I talked too much. I saw the timer ticking, I noticed the time on the clock, and I knew I had another adult in the room watching this lesson.
As soon as I opened my mouth, I wish that I had a rewind button. I should have stopped talking then. It was too late though. I made a choice — I made what I think was a bad one — but I just went with it. What would you have done then?
Today though, when I was doing some different math centres (many shared by Kelly — thanks Kelly!!), I made an effort to talk less. I still asked questions, but I tried not to tell the students what to do. I just let them talk, and in this talking, I heard the students explaining what they know in the best way that they know how.
Below are two videos from today:
How do you think I did with my goal to say less? What would you suggest that I say or do differently the next time? As a school, we’re working on giving descriptive feedback to our students to help them improve. Please give me some descriptive feedback too, so that I can improve as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Terrific! It was great to hear the students describe their learning with enthusiasm and confidence. They were clearly engaged and aware of your interest in their learning. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Maureen! Glad you liked that. This was the first time that I’ve recorded videos without asking questions first. I basically just listened and let the students talk, and then jumped in with questions when needed. I liked this approach better. I’m going to try to do it more often.
Thanks again for your comment!
It is always great to see kids learn. Talking through the learning is something many teachers do not get a chance to see. What I like most is that you were able to reflect on your day and make changes. That is the true measure of a great teacher. Kudos to you for seeing your mistakes and working to correct them as soon as possible.
Thanks Nick! I find myself reflecting constantly this year, and while this means that I’m constantly changing things too :), I think that these changes are for the better. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the school year brings!
I think that we’ve all had those teaching moments when we’ve wished for a rewind button! The fact that you’ve reflected on your lesson and seen the need for more questioning and less talking will lead to that very thing. I really enjoyed watching and listening to your children learning. They did a great job of taking ownership of their own learning. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much for the comments, Kathy and Kim! I’ve found myself reflecting a lot this year on my teaching practices, and while this means that I’m constantly changing what I do too, I think that these changes are for the better. It’s great to see how the students have grown as thinkers and as learners. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!
P.S. Kim, you make an interesting point about scaffolding. You really have me thinking …
Aviva, what is great is that you are always reflecting on student needs and how to create independent, enthusiastic learners. I have to think that part of the reason your students are so comfortable explaining their thinking is due to the experience you’ve provided and practice through questioning that allowed them to get to this point. Think of it more as scaffolding and you are now recognizing that many prompts are no longer necessary. Choose to celebrate this as a success, growth and development (for all)! 🙂