Moving and Chanting: Release Your Inner Graph

I’m having issues with Firefox and posting, so this was what I wrote yesterday.
I didn’t end up blogging yesterday since I went home right after we were all released for the day.  From that day, I continued the use of my “Speed Dating” style of presentation and found that both of my last two classes were pretty off task when I wasn’t near them.  Those classes had an odd number of groups and so I took a station and had a group present to me and offered any clarifications to help them out.  I later realized that this meant I only clarified for half of the groups.  I think I need to make sure to have a whole class report out after the speed dating so I can make sure that everyone has a chance to hear my comments.  I think it may even be worth while to have a pause station if I have an odd number where the groups just stand and catch their breath or maybe have a prompt to think about so that I can move around to each group and help make sure the rest of the class is more on task.  I need to find a good way to hold everyone responsible for learning during this time so that they are on task even when I’m not looking.  One class had most people prefer this style of presentation with a few people preferring the “One Stage” traditional style.  In the other class almost everyone preferred the “Speed Dating” style.  I like to make class more fun and engaging so I will keep working on improving this technique.
So far today I have just had one class and I worked on a skits and chanting approach to understanding graphs.  The “skits” were really just students walking or running, based on the behavior of the  graph, but they seemed to respond very well to it.  Once I worked with each group, they were able to figure out how to represent their graph and performed well.  I think the chanting helped bring the energy way up and will help them start to learn names for their graphical relationships.  I originally asked students to find a reason or real life example for the graph behavior, but I didn’t push it when students did not include this in their presentation.  I think this might be useful to help stretch their minds more, but it might be ok to have a bit more simplicity now and stress this more when we repeat this exercise during the motion unit.
Things I need to work on:
I had a little mini-lecture to model how the students would start analyzing their graphs before making their skit.  This seemed completely ineffective because I had to go around to each table and work with them individually to communicate those ideas.  One big mistake was that I drew up everything on the graph while they were doing other work so that it was ready when I presented this mini-lecture.  I really should have done it in front of them.  For my next physics class I will try doing it while they watch and then randomly calling students to complete it in front of the whole class to help identify and remedy confusion or misconceptions.  I don’t know how comparable the two classes will be since this morning I had 9th grade and this afternoon I’ll have 12th grade, but I’ll also try it with all my 9th graders tomorrow.
I need to introduce rapid Think Pair Share during my mini-lectures to increase engagement and help make sure students think about what I am saying.  It should help make students more accountable and give them short breaks to take it all in.  I’ll try that with random equity card calling in my next physics class as well.  I also want to try adding in whole class responding together after those few students answer to get the others involved and add more repetition for memory.
Madigan says to introduce Cornell Notes to my students and make sure they are taking notes with the questions that they have throughout class.  I’ve been pretty disorganized about their binders and notebooks and need to get a system going so they can easily do this and I can easily check up on them.  I think this will help with understanding because writing helps keep students remain on task and helps students remember (and gives me a better tool to hold them accountable and see if they are doing work).  I’m going to spend some time thinking about how best to introduce Cornell Notes and model proper note taking.  It will be good to start practicing Cornell note taking in this unit so that they are ready to go when the next unit begins.  I’m going to try giving specific directions on what to write and how to write it during the observe/measure/manipulate discussions and others to help them see how to organize information, then I’ll back off slowly.
I need to work on adding positive narration, both for behavior and when students present information.  For today’s activity especially I need to have a specific positive comment for each student after they walk/run for their graph.  I’ll try to do this during Physics 4A today and then reflect on it for tomorrow’s classes.
During my Physics 4A class we did the graph skits again and they seemed to really enjoy it.  There was a bit of struggle with the first group but they accepted it and other people seemed to have fun.  One student even said as she left that it was fun that day.  Most importantly they really seemed to understand it.  When a parabolic relation student sped up to a walk but then just walked at a constant speed another student said “you look more like a linear relation.”  The other student identified that the behavior didn’t seem to fit and then identified the graph that better fit the behavior.  This is what I want all of my students to be able to do.
Fowler mentioned telling the students that these strategies of chanting and moving are based on neuroscience to give more credibility and let the students look at their learning and understand how to improve learning and memory.  This may help motivate the students to participate and give them a reflection into their own learning.  I really like reflection (obviously) and metacognition so I’m going to make sure to fit that into my classes tomorrow so that they are more aware of what they are doing.
I really liked that the students were able to show more of their personality through how they moved, and I’m sure I smiled more today than any other day so far.  That must be a good thing 🙂
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