Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 78: Discussion

I still have no idea how to handle going over a worksheet in class. I've tried at least a half dozen different incarnations, and nothing seems to really get the job done. At the crux of the issue is that regardless of how much class time is devoted to practice, students will simply not do the work. So it becomes impossible to go over a 15 question worksheet, because only the first 3 questions were answered with any regularity. 

Today I used the document camera and had students volunteer only their worksheet - I didn't make the student approach the camera and discuss their work, I simply presented it and we talked about it as a group. The approach actually seemed to work for 2 of my classes, but I would later discover that while most students were attentive, they still only completed the questions that we went over directly. Nobody is applying the discussion to their own knowledge and working toward understanding. 

At every turn, students claim "I tried, but I didn't get it, so I stopped." Those that ask for help never get answers directly, they simply get Socratic questions that will lead them toward understanding. And the students that have the patience to hang with me will eventually "get it," but even those students aren't internalizing the process to be able to repeat the questioning on their own. Without someone holding their hand and leading them step-by-step, they're completely bumfuddled and refuse to even attempt a solution. 

In talking with other teachers in my school, this seems to be a wider problem with the Class of 2015 as a whole (not necessarily specific to me or my methods), but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. We're at the halfway point, and maybe half of my students have given up completely, which means it's going to be a long second semester. 

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