Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to Shut Up

Hardest thing for a teacher, right? Our instinct is to talk, talk, talk, explain, re-explain, draw pictures, do a few back flips, in other words, the teaching equivalent to finding the shortest distance between two points. But seriously, it is time for me to stop talking when I am boring even myself, and I happen to be one of my most devoted fans. I'm talking too much even now! I need help!

My week:

Had a few good Breakout Room activities this week, and found that things go much better if I:
  • keep reminding myself that I must not do it for them
  • remind myself again
  • have a good activity - just easy enough and just challenging enough and just fun enough
  • keep it to 2 kids per room
  • have the slide up before I put them into their rooms
  • tell them to write on their board (either one writes and the other verifies, or both split the work and write, then verify)
  • go in to take snapshots every few minutes and keep my mouth shut as much as possible, with the exception of:
    • ask who is writing (hint hint kids I should see some writing)
    • ask who is checking
    • ask is there consensus
    • tell them to investigate any differences and remember sometimes there is more than one good answer
    • give warning when I'm about to bring all back (they hate it when that voice suddenly and way-too-cheerfully informs them "You have been moved to the main room")
  • once all are back, compare snapshots
  • ask them to explain differences in answers, procedures
The activities I used:
  • In Tech Sci Math gr 11: explorelearning student exploration guide for Vectors gizmo, to be filled in while using the gizmo:

  • Tech Sci math gr 10: investigation of optimization problem, my own creation, basically each BOR tries to find the best possible combination of hyoptenuses in a problem like this: 

                      and then organize their findings in a table like this:

  • Sci Math gr 11: gave a trig equation to solve, using graphing calc. Here are some actual snapshots:

What was really cool about this one was that different rooms got what looked like different answers, but once we all got together in the main room, they discovered that they were all right by looking at each others' snapshots. Now that was cool. Good teaching moment. Pat, pat, Audrey.

I need two things:
  • to put together/find more activities. Lots of great suggestions for concrete and rich math activities thanks to Dan Meyer:

(the good stuff starts on the page titled "The Types of Activity", which is thumbnail 20, but page number 16.)
  • To be blunt, I need to shut up! That is just as hard for me as it is for them to un-shut up. But until then I am that teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Which, by the way, none of them has ever heard of. Wow.


  1. WOW! Have you been keeping this a secret or what? You're an inspiration, Audrey. Thanks for sharing

  2. Thanks, Christiane! I haven't exactly kept it a secret, but neither have I been getting all in people's faces like "Hey did you read my blog" , "I'm blogging now" , "blog blog blog". Don't want to annoy. But thanks for your kind words!

  3. You MUST show the kids the scene with Ferris Bueller's teacher - you are NOTHING like him.

  4. Dianne, when the sound poops out, I so am like him.

    "Can anyone hear me now?....anyone?......anyone?"