Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shifts in Classroom Practice - Authority Part 2

A few posts ago I asked for advice on a shift in my classroom.  The shift was to move from me or the textbook being the authority on what is correct to the students deciding if their work and answers is valid.

Here is misscalcul8's response:
Basically, you have to get out of the way. Your class time should shift until you are barely talking at all. Discussion should be happening among students. Let them find validation through solving the problem on their own rather than hearing validation from you.

Perhaps I've been looking at this the wrong way.  As I was reading the response above, I'm thinking to myself, "But I already do this."  You know?  The whole Ask-three-then-me thing.  I was thinking that I never confirm their work, but that's not realistic is it?  

When we meet again for our PLC tomorrow I will have something to offer:

 - I have students in groups going over the work from their previous exit ticket, that I did not grade or comment on.  The students needed to compare their work and come to their own conclusion as to what worked and what didn't.  After the students were done with their discussions we went over the problems as a class.

 - I currently have my pre-calculus class working on a jigsaw activity where I've only been circulating and eavesdropping, rather than dictating what is right and what is wrong.  

 - Later this week I will have the students once again do a white-boarding activity where I again don't offer much advice or direction.

The shift of mine was made over a few year period.  I used to have a presentation for every single lesson.  I would stand in the front of the room, teach the students how to do the problems, give them some to practice for homework, repeat.  Slowly I started to include more and more activities where I'm not the star on stage.  
I feel that maybe I've made this shift, but just didn't realize it.  Allowing the students to work things out for themselves and when everyone is settled, going over their work and thoughts, is what I'm working towards.  


  1. Thank you for posting your thoughts/progress on the shift you are working on in the classroom. I'm working on a similar shift - less my giving instruction, demonstrating - to very brief presentations with much more practice in partners and small groups. It has been a difficult shift for me ... partly because students crave more answers to their questions, more examples ... and what they need is more confidence that they can actually do the work themselves. Looking forward to reporting out later in the month just as you mentioned ... allowing students to work things out for themselves ...

  2. I have also been working diligently this year to have my students do more of the talking which is difficult in math. Learning to step away from the role of "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side" is not only a learning curve for me - but also for my students. They are not accustomed to discussing how to work problems or find their or another's mistakes. My advanced students are much better than my general level students. I'm wondering though about grading - I'm not grading exit tickets because as you said I am letting them figure out where they have gone wrong. I'm not grading homework for the same reason. So now I don't have anything to grade except for tests and a few activities. How are you grading your student's discussion?

    My email is I've never commented on a blog before - so I'm not sure how this works. But I'll continue to check back here for a response. Thanks!