Monday, January 11, 2016

Worth the Time

By Mark Heintz

The more I teach, the longer it takes me to get through the material.  In my first few years of teaching, I focused on completing activities. Let me emphasize the past sentence, I focused on completing activities.  I would lead the classroom and just get through the material.  If I was writing things on the board and students were packing up with a minute to go, I would still teach. Furthermore, I would continue to write down things for the students to complete a worksheet if the bell was about to ring.  I taught bell to bell.  I was a good teacher.  


An activity that used to take ten minutes, might take an entire period now. This is mainly because I actually teach the concept and/or skill.  I spend more time building or activating background knowledge, movement activities, writing, reading, allowing all students a voice, and ensuring all students have an understanding.  It takes more time because I am not as concerned about the teaching as I am the student learning that takes place. 






For example, look at the image below. For the activity below, I would model the first one with whole class instruction. Then I would have the class try the second one.  Finally, I would walk around the room and help students with the rest. If they didn't finish them, I would just tell them the answer at the end.  To get through ten statements, it would take about ten minutes.  


Now it takes me the whole period. I mostly do the same process.  But instead of me leading the completed task, I have students AirPlay their attempts and defend it. I still walk around and help students as they attempt it. But I am also looking for students responses that will help guide the class. As I talk to students and help them, I look for misconceptions and understanding that will benefit the whole class.  As they AirPlay, I make them defend their answer to the whole class. This a time-consuming process, but it allows the students to really show the understanding.  Although we might not get through as much in a day, what we do get through is incredibly powerful.

                       






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