More small victories

Posted on March 28, 2017


… had an almost identical lead-in with a first time visitor to CAS as I did with my “is it right now?” student… same “project” about running and dieting to lose weight, and … the same confusion as to what to do when figuring out running *and* cutting back on calories.

This time, happily… the student successfully looked back and talked through what happened… then talked through it again, then took a few notes, and then got to do it all again with the second same-model-different-numbers scenario.

I suspect an important part of this is that talking thing… again, anxiety’s a real nemesis.   If “teacher presence” means you don’t talk it through but try to figure out which answer is RIGHT … you’re engaged with emotions, not math.   Hmmm.   Will think about this more.

I am once again reminded that no, it’s not boring to have more really, really similar practice when you’re figuring out how it works, and that “looking for patterns” is one of those math practices and they were doing that.

Student II  thinks procedurally but… worked through with reasoning how to figure out how to set up the Pythagorean THeorem with a, b, or c missing.   Without guidance, though, there was no connection made to the algebraic process of using a formula… no, student did not transfer that skill – but with a *little* coaching, that thing that was supposed to happen, did.

It wasn’t fast.   It took time and effort — the kind of time and effort that the “quick review” courses preclude.

This is the kind of difference in teaching that makes a significant difference in retention and transfer (both of the skills in their minds and their presence in college).   There are myriad reasons they wouldn’t have that habit of mind, and they’re utterly capable of developing it. When I assume that what looks like plugging into a formula is transferring that skill, I’m creating the Mathew Effect – the rich get richer because they *are* getting the practice, and the poor lose … they have a bigger gap between practicing the skill and they’re filing everything in discrete, disconnected containers.   Need to think about how to include *this* into math materials that I share.

Also dropped in on webinars about Open Education in Illinois… which had enough “what’s an OER” for me to drop in and do a little more “Design for Learning” MOOC.

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