Monday, November 5, 2012

If You Need Help, THEN TAKE IT!

I started something new last week. After I finish the lesson portion of class and it's time to start on the homework, I have the kids move around. Those who feel like they've totally got it, ready to rock head to the back and work quietly. Those who are still feeling a little (or a lot) fuzzy come to the front, and I work with that smaller group on a few select problems from the homework.

The first day I did it was interesting. My A1 class had several takers who were like, "Dude, yes, help!" Most other classes, I had to twist some arms to get anyone to join in.

Second time around, though, more people joined in. I think some kids were like, "Uh, yeah, that actually looks helpful. Might be a good idea."

It's nice, because in those smaller groups, the struggling kids are more likely to ask questions, stop me when they don't understand. I'm liking it. I think I'll stick with it.

Still, some kids who I know really ought to join in are heading to the back and working with their friends instead. That'd be fine if their friends were helping them understand, but based on the daily quiz results and homework scores, it's more likely their friends are breezing through the assignment and distracting them with random chatter instead.

It makes me mad at the struggling kids for not prioritizing. It makes me mad at their friends for not recognizing how much harder they're making it.

I mean, I get it. Social pressure and all ... not wanting to "look stupid." I wish they'd notice that several popular kids are joining the extra-help group. Then again, an outward self-confidence often coincides with teen popularity. (Comes with its own problems, often under the surface, but that's another post.)

I've only been through it two times with each class so far. I could force it, telling specific kids they have to come to the front. I'd rather not. For now, I give a strongly worded suggestion that if they didn't get the homework done, struggled on the daily quiz, or got a bad grade last quarter, they really ought to join us.

Hopefully the more we do it, the less stigmatized kids will feel.


Leigh said...

I wish my math teachers had done something like this. I was aces until eighth grade and then I fell behind. I can't help but feel that if my teachers had taken more time with the kids that needed help instead of just trying to get through the lesson, I might not suck so hard at everything past prealgebra. And, contrary to what kids think, you DO use this stuff after graduation.

wljennings said...

Liked Liegh's comment above.
Just a thought: Develop a math-student cadre. Yeah kinda sneaky, but recruit those kids in the back to teach math, they like it and you know it's beautiful, dynamite combination. Hell I have no idea how to do this recruiting but I bet you do. Some of those kids in the back, as you imply are there for reasons other than learning math. Some of them just to get farther away from you, (you are after all Ms. Math.) Some because they are more comfortable with peers. Some because there’s a cute girl (or guy) back there. Who cares why, as long as they get more than they bargained for, in the best possible way I mean?
Most of the kids in the back (hopefully) are there because they get it, and when you “get it” you want to share it.
I think one good thing to do might be to let those whiz-kids know that you have their backs when questions come up. You know, we learn the most while teaching.
Love ya girl, you doin good.