Friday, March 22, 2013

Silent Lesson - Shhh!!!

Today I tried what I would like to call my "silent lesson".  I teach a lesson, but I don't explain what I'm doing or why I'm doing it.  I just go for it.  The students write down everything that I write down, and I encourage them to ask each other questions rather than me.  This lesson has three parts to it.  1) the examples that they copy as I complete.  2) Group work to discuss with their neighbors  3) An exit ticket so I can see how things are going.

One thing I want to emphasize is that I'm silent, not the students.  I really want them to talk and to think out loud.

The lesson that I completed was on graphing two variable linear inequalities.  We have covered one variable inequalities, and graphing lines.

This activity evolved as the day went on, and I received feedback and ideas from the students.  At first I went over the group problems with the students before giving the exit ticket.  But then I felt like I was stealing their thunder.  I mean the whole point of doing a silent lesson is so that the students come to their own conclusions and recognize patterns on their own.  When I just came out and told them how to do it, I was making the activity less effective.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by some of the conversations that took place.  Two girls were having a conversation about open and closed circles when I put up the inequality y<2x-3.  That conversation wouldn't have happened if I was up front lecturing and telling everyone to sit down and shut up.
One question that I heard over and over again was about shading.  They were confused on whether they should shade to the right or to the left of the line, because nothing seemed consistent.  Again, I wouldn't have known about this misconception if I was doing all the talking.


I really liked this lesson because I got to hear their questions as soon as they had them.  If they weren't sure of why the line was dotted, they asked it immediately.  And immediately a classmate offered a solution.  Sometimes right and sometimes wrong.  But that's okay, because I NEED to hear these wrong thoughts.  And better than that, I loved that their classmates offered a counter if they thought they were wrong.  Here's the thing, they don't need me as much as I think they do.


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