We are coming up on the end of the year. This is our last full week. Seniors are taking their finals (not in our classrooms) and we're not too far from the underclassmen doing the same. I am preparing to give my final regular assessment in my Algebra 2 classes tomorrow. We are finishing up rational expressions and I pulled out the folder review (original post from Mrs. Graham is here) I had used last year and tweaked it to fit what they were reviewing for tomorrow's assessment. In all four of my classes, students worked. Not every student, but the vast majority of them. For it being a Monday and 8 days left in school, I felt that was great.
As my last class was working on the review and I was making the rounds, it hit me. When I design activities that "force" them to work, most students do what is needed to be done. When they actually practice, they do well. What I have been doing in the classroom this year has not done that well at all. The best students will practice the homework problems, but for the most part, since I am not grading the homework and I am not sitting there finding a way to make them do the problems, many do not practice as they should.
So, how do I restructure my class to make sure that my students practice their mathematics? How do I provide enough structure that they feel they can attempt the problems on their own without being the "sage on the stage?" I feel that the guided notes I have created to help them take notes has helped, however, there are still too many who don't even bother to fill them in. Without having a textbook right now for students to refer to for help, I still feel that giving some direct instruction with guided notes is important. I also realize that they need in class practice time without it being a social/free-for-all time. How do I blend it all together?