Theory Disproven

I’ve had a theory in the back of my mind as to why my 8th period seniors as a whole ask fewer questions than do my 4th period seniors. My thought was that they were hesitant to ask questions due to the fact that Andy is in the class (as a student assistant). I thought they may be hesitant to “show” that they didn’t understand something in front of him. I discussed this with another math teacher last night – he agreed it might be possible.

Well, that theory was shot to hell today. Yesterday we covered max/min word problems. We set them up together in class and the homework was to finish them (find the domain in the context of the problem, evaluate the function at given values, find max/min values, and sketch the function). We reviewed the answers at the beginning of each class – 4th period had questions, 8th didn’t. Next, I gave out a packet of new questions, told each group that they were responsible for answering all of the questions, and that tomorrow I would randomly collect one from each group to grade.

4th period had many questions and I spent the remainder of the period circulating and answering their questions with questions of my own (I’m not going to just give them the answer – they have to think). 8th period also had questions (actually more) and they were more than willing to ask questions of Andy too. So we both spent the remainder of the period circulating and answering questions by asking questions.

I learned a lesson today that I somehow forgot (relearned?). I need to plan for more time for the students to actually be doing the math. Apparently I also have to collect and grade it for them to care. Ugh. Oh well, maybe in a few months they’ll have a more intrinsic motivation for understanding how to do the problems. Right now though, I’ll take them understanding how to do the problems – or at least trying to understand.

Andy, thanks again for the help. Everyone who isn’t Andy… have you voted for his program yet? Don’t wait – voting ends midday on Thursday.

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