Monday, January 28, 2013

Intensive Feedback for Every Kid

I have said this before and I will say it again: I find that mini whiteboards are wonderful in giving immediate feedback to students and receiving immediate feedback from them. This year, after I started using mini-whiteboards on a semi-regular basis in Grade 7, I have seen my students growing leaps and bounds in their accuracy. They absolutely love those lessons because they love to be recognized for being correct. (I usually say after a complicated problem, "Pat yourself on the back if you got that one completely correct." They love patting themselves on the back. heehee. And come on, who doesn't?) By now they're used to the idea that when I say something during the lesson, it is going to help them during the mini-whiteboard practice, so their ears actually perk up to listen. That is night-and-day compared to their attention span on other days.

In one 80-minute lesson last week, we reviewed: multiplying a 2-digit number by a 1-digit number in our heads; finding the common denominator of two fractions like (3x + 5)/24 = (6 - 2x)/7 as an application of this arithmetic skill; cross-multiplication and why it works (this was following DAYS of fractional equations practice, so I felt that at this point they were ready to bypass the denominator part and ready to see why the numerators would change as such); solving various proportional equations using cross-multiplication; solving percent word problems using proportions. In fact, they were so great with this exercise that they were able to figure out that something like (3x - 5)/6 = (2x + 7)/4 would have no solution, which is a topic from a while ago that I just threw in to the mix.

In one lesson, basically all the kids practiced and understood all of these skills. Of course we'll go back to individual/paired practice this week as we build up towards a formal assessment, but having their intensely focused attention for 80 consecutive minutes and receiving/giving constant individual feedback from/to every kid is simply priceless. It does wonders for their progress towards mastery.

In fact, the word has gotten out that I use these mini whiteboards regularly and that I love them... Other-subject teachers on my floor have started to borrow them from me to use in their classes. Great!

...Wow. We're so ready as a class to move on from basic algebra to explore basic geometry. I can actually feel the anticipation! :)