Monday, February 7, 2011

Transparent learning!

A revealing post

Shelley's post on the unit circle was a real eye-opener, for the simple reason that it was the first one that took place on the weekend. (It was also a very good post!) Many of the kids commented that reading her summary during the weekend (or Monday morning) helped them recall what we were doing last Friday, and therefore made it easier to get back into the swing of things on Monday. It never even occurred to me! How many cases of Monday morning math funk have gone undiagnosed all these years? During our discussion in class on Shelley's post, I asked her if she had found it helpful to have had to summarize the lesson. She made a point of saying "Yes! REALLY helpful!" Very interesting.

This must be what Darren Kuropatwa means when he says that the posts and responses can make our students' learning transparent to us. Things are being revealed in a very organic, non-contrived fashion through these posts.

Still not sure how to mine their posts and comments for the math, though. I am very hesitant to make any corrections myself to their posts. It's a pretty public thing they're doing. It seems like it could easily turn into just another thing for me to put x's and checkmarks all over, like a test, and then they will be hesitant to do it. Ideally, we want them to make the corrections to each others' work, at least that was what I understood. Fortunately, one class (interestingly, the class that Shelley was not in) did point out the few things that needed to be fixed with her post:
• that it was missing a sample question
• there was one mistake ("-90 is coterminal to 275")
• some of the terminology and notation was not quite used properly ("a circle has a radius of 1", "an angle theta0")
But what do I do if no one sees a mistake? Maybe I'll give them the first crack at it, then step in if I have to. But maybe I also need to help them find ways to give each other constructive criticism, or at least set the stage so that they are more comfortable speaking their minds about someone's post.

More and more it seems like this is less about math than it is about emotions and relationships! One student joked that math class was more like therapy these days! At least I hope he was joking...

1 comment:

1. I could use some therapy...I will have to drop in again this week.