Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Calculus Students in Algebra Class

I've had this idea for a few years now, but it never seems to go over well with others in the school.  I would like to see upper level students assigned to Algebra 1 classes.   

When I taught Pre-Calculus or Calculus, one of the things that really slowed a lesson down was the students' Algebra 1 skills.  We constantly had to review topics I believe they should have mastered.  For the past few years I have solely taught Algebra 1.  What I'm seeing in these courses is the number of students who need one-on-one assistance, maturity redirection, and frankly a mentor. 

Here is where I see an opportunity....assign mature upper level students to Algebra 1 classes.  The older students would be required to take notes and pay attention in class, but act as teaching assistants..  I picture them sitting among the younger students, helping individuals when they have trouble comprehending, all while they are honing their own Algebra 1 skills.  And dare I say, even teach a lesson to the whole class???

The younger students have the opportunity to see the maturity level and math skills of students in their own school.  They could serve as a positive role models for the younger students to look up to. 

I have had a small introduction to this during the current semester.  In my school, each teacher is permitted to have 1 student aide.  The students has to be either a Junior or a Senior and they receive no credit for the class.  Basically, it's a student who acts as your secretary.  They can make copies for you, grade multiple choice assessments, and run errands around the school.

The student aide I have this semester, let's call her Jane, is proving my idea worthy.  One day she saw that I was struggling with helping all the students as they were working on a worksheet.  She walked up to me and said, "Mrs. Oswald, I'm comfortable with this material, do you want me to help the students too?"  uhhh, YEAH!  Every day Jane helps me collect the entrance cards and help students who are struggling with those, she works individually with students, and has taken the time to learn all of their names. 

The one day I was teaching a lesson that I felt was boring.  I announced this to the students and asked, "Does anyone know how we can make this less dull?"  Jane raised her hand and offered to teach the class.  Yes, be jealous.  She did a fantastic job too!

And the students are comfortable with her too.  If they see I'm busy, they call her over to help.  I really wish I could give her an elective credit for all the work she's been doing.  My sincere 'thank you' will have to do. 

Do any of you have experience with this?  Anyone want to play devil's advocate and see if there's something I haven't considered? 

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea! I now teach 8th grade but when I taught Calculus at our high school I couldn't believe how weak their Algebra skills were. At our middle school we offer Algebra as early as 7th grade and then of course we have the parents who want to "race to the top" so taking Algebra in 7th grade is not good enough...we now have 5th and 6th graders taking Algebra...which I personally think is crazy. These students may be able to "plug and chug" or memorize very quickly but they have no idea why they are doing what they are doing. For them...there is no meaning behind the math they are doing. I personally think some students should take Algebra in 8th grade, but no way should every one take Algebra in 8th grade. I always tell parents Algebra is the foundation of all the math that follows... if your child is struggling with Algebra in 8th grade then he/she will most likely continue to struggle. I recommend students take our 8th grade course( which is CC aligned) so they get the strong foundation they need for Algebra. The parents and students who have followed this advice have been so happy they did. These students are now flourishing and loving math in high school. (They are taking more difficult math courses than their friends who took Algebra in 8th grade.) . Sorry for the rant...of course there are students who can take Algebra in 7th grade and there will always be an exception to the "rule".

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