Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A "Good Teacher" Thing

I did something in class today that paid a lot of dividends. It would be nice if I could do it more often, but today the stars were in alignment or something and it just worked out.

Our school has the funkiest schedule on the planet. On Mondays and Fridays, we have "regular days". On Tuesdays and Wednesdays we have "block days", having periods 1, 3, and 5 on Tuesday for 2 hrs each and periods 2, 4, and 6 on Wednesdays. On Thursdays we do something so ignorant that I won't spend time on it here. Suffice it to say that yesterday and today I had 2 hour classes.

In my pre-calc (trig) classes, we went over the one assignment that students have been working on for the last two days. Pretty difficult stuff, and I wanted to ensure the students had time to attempt it on the first day, ask questions, finish it on the second day, and ask final clarifying questions today. After that we had a scheduled quiz. All of that took up the first hour of the block period.

For the 2nd hour of the block period I had a lesson planned. It's a fairly simple lesson, one that I was able to cover in about 15 minutes. Rather than do a 2nd lesson for the remaining 40 minutes, though, I opted to let the students work on tonight's assignment in class while I graded their quizzes. Here's the "good teacher" thing: I had each student come up to my desk while I graded his or her quiz so they could got immediate feedback on how well they did as well as immediate remediation.

Most students scored fairly well on the quiz. Those who didn't, however, were thankful for the chance to learn, one-on-one, what they hadn't figured out over the last couple days. This is especially helpful, though, because they have a chapter test a week from today.

Of course, it should be patently obvious to anyone that scoring quizzes right away is a smart thing to do. Often I take up to 2 days, however, by which time we've already moved on to new material. Grading in class isn't always possible, either; it's not often I get a lesson that can adequately be taught in only 15 minutes. So what I did today isn't always possible, but it sure felt good to do it.

I feel like I accomplished something today. We'll see if it that's true on the test next week!


The Smack said...

Last week my english teacher had us come to his office one by one to grade our essay's in front of us. It was interesting, and brutal at the same time. The best part was after they were graded he handed them back to rewrite them for a better grade. I wish all my essays were graded like that.

cassandra said...

I think kids are more gutsy now than then they were when I was in HS in the mid 60s. It seemed like everyone was too scared to ask for help back then. I remember doing what I thought were good and elegant geometry proofs, laboring every night, thinking I had it down cold, and then the homework paper coming back all marked up. A couple sessions with the teach would have probably made all the difference in the world.

Hey Darren can I email you about some math curriculum issues sometime? My state is still into the fuzzy stuff and I'd like to get your perspective on your experience with it. Or else blog on it...or point me to an archive where you blogged on it already.


Darren said...

Cassandra, you can send information to me, but you'll probably find what you're looking for at

Polski3 said...

Brovo for a great lesson and a good idea for some of us to think about trying.....!

cassandra said...

Yes I've been reading on that site and several others for weeks now but the problems is the broken links, old stories--everything seems to be from 1998-99. I'd like to know how it's going NOW in California. Is fuzzy math dead?

If you don't have time I understand. My address is

cassandra said...

Darren, I have been reading the site you mention and several others like NYCHOLD for weeks now. Most of the links are pretty old, circa 1998-89, and links no longer exist.

Is fuzzy math dead in Calif? If so, since I am running for the legislature I would like to know how we could kill it here too! :)

If you have address is I couldn't find yours.

Paul said...

A week ago you said, "I feel like I accomplished something today. We'll see if it that's true on the test next week!"

So was it true or not?

Darren said...

I'm almost done grading the tests. Two classes are complete, and while I don't have the results in front of me (I leave that stuff at work), I was pleased.

So yes, looks like it was a good thing.

Thank you for following up!