Small Change

Do you ever make a small change to something you do every day that ends up making a HUGE difference and think to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of this years ago?!” or “Why don’t I remember to do this more often?”

This happened today, and it ended up to be pure magic.


Today in one of my classes I was introducing point-slope form.  I put the formula up on the board and asked students what they noticed and wondered about it.  Then we talked a bit more about it and did a few examples.

Then I gave students the coordinates of two points and said that we want an equation in point-slope form that goes through those to points.  Their task was to figure out how to do that.  They found a partner and got to work.  After a couple minutes, the chatter started dying down, and I could tell many groups were stuck.

This is where the magic happened.

I stopped the class and told them that for about 30 seconds they were going to find a new partner and talk about what they’ve been trying with the problem.  Then I was going to stop them again, and they would return to their original partners and keep working.

The room instantly came alive again with students talking about what they had tried.

Many groups were stuck at different places or had tried different things so my students had a lot to talk about with their new partner.  When they went back to their original partners, they had new ideas and were able to continue working.


I had done something similar to this last year, or maybe even longer ago than that, and why it took me this long to do it again, I don’t know.  I think my fear when I do things like this is that my students will be more off task; however, today the opposite happened.  The conversations within my groups were more on task for longer periods of time than they typically are in that class.

I want to incorporate this more into my classes, but at the same time be careful not to overuse it and be intentional about when I use it as I definitely think there are times something like this would be more effective than others.

 

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