Friday, April 19, 2013

UWC Middle School Conference Workshop Motivation

One of the main things I try to work on in my teaching is making technology do the heavy lifting for me. I like to have all of my students be challenged for many reasons (like keeping on-task behavior), but the over-riding reason is I don't want students to lose their love of math.

Once I move out of their ZPD, students will lose focus. No matter how streamed (or leveled, or tracked, or whatever term you use to separate classes by student ability level) your classes might be, there are still going to be students on each end of the performance spectrum. I want to keep those students engaged and challenged (which are not mutually exclusive in my opinion).

Throughout my teaching career, I have developed a few quirks that shape my legacy (so I don't think I have a massive legacy, but if any of my former students got together these quirks would be the things they would all talk about). I have always dreamed of a time when every homework assignment I give is in the form of a math problem, where the solution is the homework problems the students need to do. You know, do math to figure out what your math homework is!

This is time consuming and challenging depending on the course that I teach and I have never gone full bore with it and used it consistently (even though I talk about it every year in every class, I can never get around to it...maybe next year!)

What I have started doing is giving my students a problem they need to do for homework, where the solution is the seat they need to sit in during the next class. (If anything, I figure 1 problem is low enough that I should get 100% participation.)
My classroom has 24 desks (I know great factors to come up with different "pod" (my wording for group) sizes). I usually do pods of 2 or pods of 4 depending on the assignments. So, my solutions are 1 through 12 (each pod number having 2 seats associated with it) if I have pods of 2, or the numbers 1 through 6 (each pod number having 4 seats associated with it). Sometimes, I will use 0-5 or 0-11 since I believe 0 is a natural number and want to indoctrinate the students early on it :)

I don't have the time or willpower to create 24 different problems each night for each of my 6 classes that are relevant to the content for each class (another trait that I try to use). I figured out a way to have Google Apps leverage in my favor.