Thursday, October 5, 2017

Teach 180: Using Student Feedback (Day 26)

Teaching is filled with moments of on the spot decisions based on feedback from students.  The feedback can be the sound of crickets when asking a question.  The feedback can also be in the form of students asking questions which make you realize that a concept needs more clarification.  And from time to time, you do a lesson with one group of students in the morning and change it up a bit for the afternoon, based on something that didn't go according to plan.

Today I decided to do something a little differently than I had in the past.  I did a lesson with desmos activity builder called AP Stats: Matching Boxplots, Histograms and Summary Statistics.  The original activity was written by Sandi Takis and adapted from Activity Based Statistics.  The activity was revised and reformatted by Kathy Fritz and then adopted for Desmos Activity Builder by Robert Peterson.  I modified Bob's Desmos activity to include some question slides after students had created the matches in the card sort.  (So, this is the 5th iteration of the activity, if you are trying to keep track.)  Here is one of the matches from that activity.

Eight sets of 3 matches was a bit much to fit on one tiny computer screen.  Even though students worked in groups of three, they struggled with getting the correct trio of boxplot, histogram and summary statistics.  Students seemed to be more concerned about getting the answer right and checking it against the red and green cards in the front of the room than understanding why it was right.

For my afternoon class, I decided at the last minute to pull out the laminated cards version of the activity.  There were more animated discussions and even some arguments within the groups as to how to match the cards.  The groups finished at about the same time and we were able to finish the activity with a rich whole class discussion.  This important de-briefing was lacking in the earlier class, because we ran out of time.

During my twenty-five years of teaching, I always felt bad for my first class to get a lesson.  The lesson that was taught to them was good, but for my other sections of that class later in the day, it was always better.  Using student feedback and modifying lessons based on student feedback is what makes accomplished teaching a craft and not a trade.

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