Math is best tackled in groups. There is lots of research to support this. Last year my Pre-Calculus classroom ignored this for the most part, and I think it was to the detriment of my students. Now last year I had 3 preps and coached and it was my first year teaching Pre-Cal, so I found myself in survival mode more than anything. This year I'm going to make it count. Inspiration comes mainly from my 6th grade math teacher. The whole class was groups. Each person had a job title. We had to come up with a group name and logo every time we swtiched. He paid us a salary with his own currency. He had a marketplace for things you could buy. He was an amazing teacher. Even found the time to separate his students by ability and test everyone at their level. He was also the master of hiding bonus points in directions, because 11 year olds don't read directions. Neither do 18 year olds.
Besides the point, I want some form of that adapted in my classroom. Yesterday I made a rough draft of my thoughts. I hope to have a working model soon. In no particular order:
- Divide the class into 4-person groups once we get to know each other a few weeks in, perhaps after 1st grading period is over
- Change the groups roughly every 6 weeks
- Everyone keeps a notebook, anything I give you lives there. Do not accept loose leaf.
- Raise problem set difficulty level because nearly everything will be groups
- Restrict question asking
- show proof of attempt
- what have you tried?
- which example are you using as a model?
- is your group stumped too?
- 10% of a report card grade is how your group thinks you performed
- 20% of a report card grade is in maintaining a notebook and seeing you participate
- A new lesson starts with a WCYDWT, groups use their small whiteboards to jot down their questions
- After we find a good math question to tackle, we discuss the tools to get there, I give a problem set to check for understanding
- Groups are given a large assignment at the beginning of the week, they can complete more and more of it as we bring up new concepts
- Allow work days for question and answer sessions
- Give a short assessment at the end of a concept vary whether this is done as individuals or group, assign a weekly grade based on completion of group assignment and presence/order of notebook
- Give major assessments twice a grading period
- Require progress tracking in the notebook