The pressure on teachers to cover content to prepare students for THE TEST, (in my case the ISAT), is enormous. I’m an intervention teacher so I don’t actually teach one single class. I support teachers, I am a co-teacher in several classes. I continually push to have more interactive problem-based lessons.
The teachers I work with however, are continually trying to tighten up the “rigor”. The Buckle Down books come out. Students spend the entire 84 minute block working on practice problems.
We didn’t cover this content I have to show it to them. They need to see what the problems look like on the test. I have to do what the other teachers are doing. I have to keep up.
Why don’t we give out the content for homework and do real learning in class?
There are two ways to do this and your choice will likely be based on your philosophy.
First option, explore math.
Grab a good old fashioned constructivist textbook. (I know an oxymoron but there are some that are pretty good to get you started) Let the students explore and discover. Then follow up with a content video to help the students formalize what they learned. (the knock on constructivist education is students are not allowed to use procedures to solve problems. The truth is they aren’t given the procedures, but if they discover or invent them they are welcome to use them)
Second option, show then play.
Have the students watch the video, or flash animation, or whatever media you want them to learn from and get the basics down. Then use classroom time to play and explore the various ways to use that knowledge in real world situations.
I find many of these content videos boring, almost as boring as watching a teacher stand at the chalkboard and “teach”. However they are generally less than ten minutes and the teacher can’t get sidetracked. The big plus is the students can watch over and over again if they want. (not that they ever do)
So, what if the students don’t do the homework? What if they are completely unprepared for doing the classroom work?
Isn’t that the same problem you have today?
Shoot you can do what you want. I know what a few strategies I would try, but the real question is what would you do?
- The Case Against Homework: Do Students Get Too Much Of A Bad Thing? (momblognetwork.com)
- What Finland Tells Us About Teaching, Curricula, and Testing [Mike the Mad Biologist] (scienceblogs.com)
- Democracy Now: Idaho Students Stage Walkout to Oppose Teacher Layoffs, Collective Bargaining Curbs (crooksandliars.com)
- How do we motivate teachers to better understand curriculum guides? (jhuistemurphy.wordpress.com)
- CRR TED Talk Dan Meyer Math Teacher Brad Burcham EDU 543 (burchamb.wordpress.com)
- Constructivist Leadership (smithteresa.wordpress.com)