Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When students get 'it'

I got a very welcome surprise from 4th period today, they got 'it'. 'It' in this case was the importance of checking your answers for accuracy in math. It's the one thing that assured me of getting an A in my college algebra class since I'm pretty good with the formulas and not so good with the arithmetic. I had noticed that many of my students were having the same issue so today I had put up the 'board work' and made them check their answers for accuracy, and because I had noticed that some students were trying to check but not sure exactly how to go about checking their solutions (I guess that I had not modeled it enough) I modeled one more example on the board for them to see the fast and easy way to check an answer.

x+3=42 (subtract 3 from both sides and you get your answer) x=39
To check it you substitute the answer for x so it looks like this 39+3=42. Then you add 39 and 3, which gives you this 42=42. If the numbers match then it's all good. If they don't then you probably made a silly little math error.

Now I had some success with all five classes, but it was fourth period that really had it figured out. Page after page filled with checked answers to the six problems on the board. Now not every student checked every answer or did it correctly but at least 75% of them did at least three of the six correctly and many more had tried to do all six and simply did not finish checking their work.

This more than made up for the last 10 minutes of class when all they did was talk and not work on their homework, so much so that I made them put their heads on their desks and wait for the bell to ring.

Now you probably figured that I'd be complaining about 6th period again and are upset that I have nothing to rant about. All I can say is that I have six kids coming for detention on Thursday and five of them are from 6th period. What part of 'keep talking and you get detention' do people not understand?


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