Better Results

November 15, 2012

I've now had two unit exams where I've resorted entirely to traditional teaching, and my results are back up to where I'd expect them to be. However, I don't ascribe that to the mode of teach so much as to my preparedness and familiarity with the program of studies.

I've been spending more time familiarizing myself with the intent of the curriculum and coming up with suitable bite-sized pieces for my students. Unfortunately the resource I'm using is not appropriate for my students. The resource authors made the assumption that students will be familiar and comfortable with all prerequisite material. This just isn't the case with my students (and I suspect most students who take Math 30-3).

So now I'm putting a lot of effort into creating a set of good traditional resources for next semester. This will allow me to use group work at white boards as I see is appropriate, but have a good resource to fall back on when/if the group work is not successful. Furthermore, the "notes" and practice portion of a traditional resource are still required when Creating a Culture of Thinking.

Another part of the preparation that is helping me is focusing more on prerequisite skills and creating appropriate review activities. It's unfortunate that resources approved by Alberta Education cannot have review activities within the student resource--they can only be in the teacher resource. And even then, the teacher resource for MathWorks12 just has worksheets--no actual teaching of prerequisite concepts.

This is really unfortunate because every class I've ever taught has needed review of prior concepts. I've often commented that high school math is a race: which will happen first--the student will pass grade 12 math or the holes in their prior knowledge will be so big that they can't progress any further?

So if a resource is to be useful (and that's the goal of approved resources, I'm assuming), then wouldn't it be nice if they contained review "teaching" as well as practice? It's much easier for a teacher to decide a particular class doesn't need review of prior concepts than to create their own review material.

Interestingly, the approved resources weren't allowed to include review material in the student resource, but the Tools for Teachers courses (created by Alberta Education) do include review material.

And now back to creating "traditional" resources that can be leveraged next semester when trying to create a Culture of Thinking.