Over the past week I have had a few experiences in the classroom where things just worked. In an effort to not always be negative and build on what seems to be successful, I am going to try to spend more time focusing on these elements that work to help find successful patterns. A lot of what I have seen in this past week relates to my post about things that focus students.
In one of my classes I have a group of students that normally do not pay attention or engage in the material/discussion. They don’t make much of an effort to learn and they don’t spend much time on their work. Last week I allowed students to participate in many different activities and this group participated in a skit to show the forces that affect an object for a particular scenario. They were working hard and had a lot of fun with it. Their combined their creativity with their current knowledge, and I worked with them in a Socratic Dialog to help guide their skit and make it more correct from a physics perspective. They had fun and developed their own thinking.
Today students were mostly focused in my class and some classes were better behaved than they had ever been. They took a test and had a review before the test that ran very smoothly. I started with a difficult problem that some students could get, but most did not know where to start. I gave them a chance to work on their own, and then I solved it on the board with their guidance. Following this, I put up two more problems on the board and asked them to solve it on their own. I told them this was the last chance to practice and receive help before the test, and we worked through these problems. The students all focused and tried the new problems. Even students who didn’t attempt the first problems now worked and started asking me questions. I think the focusing element here is showing them that they don’t know how to do something, then explaining it, then asking them to try it again. If they don’t know that they need the help, they won’t listen when you try to explain it to them.
I also had some success with quieting students down initially by writing down their names to take points of their test in one class and keep them after school in another. I let them know when their name was written down and most students were quiet immediately following that warning. Other students responded well to positive narration about their good behavior. This seemed to work well in conjunction with the large scale after school detention that one class had following a bad behavior day. I think continuing these detentions will get the class on track and allow that period to get back on track and learn what they need to learn.