It's been two weeks since I posted---mostly because I was disappointed with my first two exams.I had thought that this "Culture of Thinking" would be a breeze to implement and that my students would ace everything(!)
With my first unit exam, I learned that group work can be deceiving because the success of the group hides the (in)abilities of the group members. My groups were doing really well, but it turned out that most of the individuals were really struggling. It's interesting that the individual abilities were masked so well, given that I had random groups each day. You'd think that there would have regularly been groups of students with low ability and that it would jump out at me. But it didn't.
So for my second unit, I reduced the group work. I still had quite a bit, often using half to two thirds of a lesson on group work. Although the overall exam marks were similar, closer inspection revealed that it wasn't the math that students were having difficulty with, but the reading of long questions in the written portion.
I've since paid closer attention to English abilities, and realized that many of my students are actually English Language Learners. In addition to that, I have some with learning disabilities.These two facts have given me fresh insight on both my results, and the work I need to do in my classroom.
For the current unit, I've mostly switched to a traditional model. Partly because that's what I know how to do, and partly because it has thus far given the most time for individual practice.
Hopefully the next exam have better results, then I will start reintroducing group work in small bits as I feel are appropriate.