Friday, September 9, 2011

What I need to work on for Week 2

Next week I need to focus on stimulating more of my students.

In almost all of my classes I have students asking, "Is the whole year going to be this easy?" I've collected work from students a couple times this week, and the students on the lower end are just where they need to be. That is, they don't feel lost but the work is challenging enough that they're still making (good) mistakes. Everyone else feels altogether too comfortable.

So the big thing that I want to focus on in my planning this week is making sure that there are proper challenges for all students.

My big strategy for stimulating more people this year is to switch activities at least twice a day. I envision a lesson as a warm up exercise, followed by three activities, and an exit ticket. Lecture/Classroom discussions are hard to differentiate, so it's falling on the other two activities of the day to challenge students.

I've done a think, pair, share exercise with all of my classes, and the first one went very well. But yesterday my questions didn't seem rich enough to be worth asking. That's probably a function of my limited capacity to come up with great questions, and limitations in the structure of the activity. If I'm going to get away with continuing with these things I need those questions to be more challenging while still remaining wide open for every member of the class. I need to think of extensions before hand.

This week I'm also going to be more careful about offering students choices. I did it yesterday in Algebra 1 and I thought it went well for independent work. What was really important was having some really good, deep questions on hand for students really looking for a challenge. I need to do a better job searching those out beforehand so that they're ready for students to practice.

So this week I'm going to firm up the structure of my lesson plans so that I can get better at differentiating within that structure. Once I've got that down, I can consider experimenting with the structure. The structure is going to be:

1. Warm Up
2. Lecture
3. Pair work
4. Practice with worked examples
5. Exit ticket

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