Yesterday in my Algebra 2 classes, we finished the notes on graphing using slope-intercept form. As I have stated before, this particular group seems to have not absorbed much from their Algebra 1 experiences. I had assigned 10 problems for them to practice last night. My original intention today was to use the random word chooser in SMART Notebook (thanks Kate!) to choose a person, allow them to choose their partner and problem and have them copy their work for that problem from their homework and graph it on a graph whiteboard. I had intended to have students do a Gallery Walk after that. Oh, the best laid plans...
Very few of my students did the homework. The ones who did were the ones who most likely took notes and/or got it pretty well in Algebra 1 and remembered it. Sigh. I scrapped the Gallery Walk portion, I spent most of the time they were working on their problem (which they were actually working on it) trying to help students who had no idea what to do or where to go from wherever they were.
During my second class, it hit me. After having them work out the problem, I had given them a worksheet to work on (two of those lovely Marcy Math Works worksheets with the great puns) and had stopped to check on a group of 4 boys who really weren't working on the problems. I asked them why they weren't working and they said they didn't understand how to do it. So, we worked through 2 of them together, step by step. They continued working and I overheard one of them say something to the effect of "Now I get it! It seems so easy now!" Then it clicked in my head - many of my students aren't really actively involved as we go through the notes portion of the lesson. Some do copy notes down, but they don't know what to do with it.
It goes back to the Confucius quote: "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." My students aren't doing. They are hearing and seeing and it isn't sticking with them. How do I get them to the doing stage? I could certainly give them copies of the slides with a space for them to take notes, but that doesn't necessarily help them, does it?
I guess the bottom line of my realization today is how I am teaching my students isn't helping them learn or understand the material. I guess I kind of knew that but I am now stuck in trying to figure out how to change and adapt so that my students can have a better understanding of the mathematics I am teaching them. I know I can explain the material to them fairly well. How do I change what I am doing so they do and eventually understand?