Thursday, September 29, 2016

Changing Teaching Style

Mathematics, Maths, Blackboard, Chalk  I've noticed that my teaching has changed quite a lot already this year from even last year.  I am finally getting it to where I feel like I'm reaching the needs of all my students.

Several years ago, I took training which focused on ways to help students learn better.  The training said you needed to expose students to the material over a 21 day period for the best chance of them remembering it well.

I kept trying to figure out ways to do this but kept retreating to my standard teach it and move on.  This year, I'm finally getting it together to do it the way I want.  My lessons look something like this:

1.  Warm-up for the first few minutes of class while I take roll, get materials in place, etc.  You know those little tasks that you can't do till class starts.  It also gives students a chance to settle down and focus on the work.

2.  I introduce something new such as the next step in the series such as identifying the intervals for increasing and decreasing of a function or polynomial.  I might show a short video or give a few introductory notes.

3.  Review the material we've been working on and either work examples, start the problem and have them finish or give them an assignment.  In other words, I do the work, we do the work, and then they do the work. 

4.  I usually spend the last 10 to 15 minutes working on skills they are weak in such as solving one step equations, rewriting a standard equation into the point slope form, etc.  I have apps on the ipad I have students use.  I have each student work on their own weakness.

5.  I finish the last minute or two of class with a verbal this is where we'll be going in our next class meeting. 

I find that step 4 is great because it allows me to keep an eye on their weaknesses and helps me diagnose other problems.  I just found out one of my 9th graders has trouble with simple arithmetic operations so I know what he needs to work on.

I don't always do it in the exact order as listed because things happen.  Sometimes I mix them up so students are not able to get used to the same thing every day but the general routine still works for them. 

The next thing for my ELL students is to look at their notes and examples so they can figure things out rather than always asking me "What do I do next?"  This particular trait is not only done in my class, it shows up in other classes. 

I like the way this works and each section does not cause students to be bored or overwhelmed.  It also makes the class go faster.