Sunday, September 20, 2015

Soap Box Critical Thinking

I've been on my soap box this week.

I love my new students - all 160 of them!  I am eager to work with them, excited about our adventures together.  Our first test is in my bag for grading.  I finished half of them last night.  The grades are not where I want them to be ... we are not there YET ... but we are on the way.

So what's the soap box?  I assigned a "stretch" problem solving activity for after the test.  The activity emphasizes function notation, domain, range, and inverses.  We have studied those concepts for linear functions but not for other functions.  So students will have to pull from what we have studied and use all the skills they have to complete the rest of the activity.  Their best bet is to use graphing and tables to demonstrate understanding of inverses.

And many are persevering.

It's the ones who are ready to give up at first glance that cause me angst.  I work with pre-ap students, students who are 1 and 2 years ahead of their peers in math.  Already I hear them saying, but I don't get it.  So, I ask, "Please ask me a question."  But I don't get any of it!  And I ask again, "So you are telling me there is nothing on this page you understand?  Let's start with a question, please."

This summer the phrase among MTBoS teachers was "Find what you love; do more of it."  I love Socratic questioning in class.  I love pulling information out of students by asking leading questions.  It is difficult to identify and organize the questions that will lead us to the treasure ... and I love working at that puzzle.   I'm practicing it ... and many students are ready.

Those who are not ready are uncomfortable.  I'm encouraging them to stick with me.  If we learn to think through the math and not just memorize steps that teachers demonstrate, we will understand so much more!

These articles on Socratic questioning illustrate what I love, and what I'm trying to do:
from CriticalThinking. org  and a list of question stems.


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