Blogging initiative

Scriverò questo post in inglese perché sto giocando un gioco che promette di essere interessante con molti altri che insegnano matematica nelle più diverse scuole del mondo. Se qualcuno vuole aggregarsi, visiti il link: https://exploremtbos.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/new-year-new-blog

MY FAVOURITE teaching style

Here is the goal that I have been chasing for years: have my classes work effectively in groups always, or at least most times.

But it remained an unfulfilled goal till last year, because:

  • I had always found it difficult to fresh-up groups as often as I wished without having to spend a lot of time negotiating who’s with who or picking bingo numbers from a bag and turning them into names;
  • I always had a really bad time when I needed to get the attention of the whole class back to me once the students had moved their desks and faced each other rather than me and the blackboard
  • my idea of evaluating the whole group by the performance of the  spokesperson was always fiercely opposed by my students and I couldn’t even try it, no matter what class I was in.

This year, however, I developed a couple of simple tricks that helped surprisingly well and made the difference:

  • I prepared a spreadsheet, which I show on the interactive whiteboard at the beginning of the lesson, in which the names of my pupils are coupled with a random number and in which every line which is a multiple of 4 is thicker than the others. I use the spreadsheet every time I meet a class and I order the list of names with reference to the corresponding random number. In a minute everybody knows who is in their group and they immediately start to rearrange the desks accordingly (the thicker lines are a great thing to show where one group ends and where the next one begins). Students seem to lightheartedly accept random groups if they change on dayly basis. They sometimes say Hooray! or Oh, no! but that’s all.
  • I also discovered that when the line that connects the facing eyes of my grouped students is perpendicular to the line that connects their desks to the whiteboard then nobody has their back to the board and group discussions can turn into class discussions – and viceversa – with practically no effort.
  • Students hate to be evaluated on sgomebody else’s performances. My lectures on reciprocal responsibility didn’t convince anyone. I finally gave up: I might be wrong in the end. I now only evaluate the spokesmen of the day and congratulate with the groups if the performance is good.

Kids love working in groups and got used to doing it more and more seriously. And I’m finally loving it too because I can see that they work for real. Above all they discuss solutions and alternatives and by doing so they teach each other their different approaches. So that mathematics stops being a bunch of useless procedures.

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