As many of you know, I continue to focus on math problem solving in class, and over the year, I think that I’ve become a much better teacher as a result. Today really got me thinking though. This morning, I had a prep, and I happened to be working out in the Grade 1/2 pod. While I was out there, a volunteer was working in the pod with a Grade 1 student in another class. The student was building with three-dimensional solids. I was listening to the conversation between the volunteer and the student. They were discussing the number of blocks in the tower, and why the student chose certain blocks. Instead of questioning the student about her choice, the volunteer was telling the student why she picked these three-dimensional solids and why she didn’t choose other ones. I kept thinking to myself, why not ask her? What questions would help elicit the best response? As the outsider watching the interaction between the student and the volunteer, I could hear it all, reflect on it all, and think of other approaches. I was feeling good. Fast forward five hours though, and things changed!
Last week, I noticed that some students were confusing shapes and didn’t understand that certain shapes could be classified under more than one category. I decided to do a mini-lesson on this today. First, we defined quadrilateral, and then students drew various quadrilaterals. We looked at the similarities and differences between these shapes. The hope was that students would begin to observe the overlap between various shapes. Since we were using the SMART Board, I used the recording feature to record both the drawings and the discussion. (Please note that external speakers will help you hear the conversation.)
Listening back on this discussion, I couldn’t be more disappointed in myself. Here I was this morning thinking that the volunteer should be asking questions instead of telling the answers, and here I was this afternoon, telling way too many of the answers myself. I wasn’t taking the time to question enough. Instead of letting the students draw their own conclusions, I was making the conclusions for the students. In retrospect, I just had to, “stop talking.” Why does that seem so hard to do? What strategies can I use to question more and talk less? Please help me out here! As a school we’re working on descriptive feedback, and I’m asking for others to please give me some so that I can do even more for my students.