I read a fair amount of blog posts, covering a wide range of topics and ideas. One I read recently, titled "Adding or Subtracting Learning" by George Couros, had both my head nodding and my mind whirling.
I tend toward the mindset that students should be the ones doing the most work in a classroom, they should be doing the most thinking during a lesson. (My part is primarily in setting up these learning opportunities.) I have done things similar to what he talks about in this post before, but it got me thinking about the math lesson of the day.
Geometry is our overarching theme. We have explored perimeter and area of two dimensional shapes and were ready to move on to prisms. I handed each group a set of four base ten flats and asked them how they would explain the ideas of area and perimeter for this object. Then the fun began.
Wandering from group to group they were anxious to share their learning. I would sprinkle a thought here and there: "Why do you think that?" or "How do you know?" or "Are you sure there isn't another way to look at it?" or "What about _______?"
I wrote the words "faces" and "volume" on the board. I reminded them they could use any resource in the room. I asked them to both explain their thinking and find a resource that could support their reasoning.
Everyone was engaged. Everyone was thinking. Ideas were being formed and challenged and changed. Then our time was up.
Now for the assessment. I created a Google Form with five questions. (My forms always have at least three questions as the first is always 'Name?' and the last one is always 'Is there anything else you want me to know?') The other three questions for this form were:
How did you figure it out?
What resource proves you are correct? (Share the link that you found to show your thinking is correct.)
So what is the answer?
Yes, my questions were in this order. Yes, this was intentional. The answer is the least important part of the process for me. I want them to be able to share their thinking. I want them to know how to search for, and be successful in finding, information.
What do you do to encourage thinking? How do they 'show' their thinking?