Monday, September 27, 2010

Being Less Helpful

So today in class, I presented a problem on using prime factorization. (We had spent the past three days learning how to do prime factorization and then the students created games or how to booklets on it to show their understanding) Anyhow I presented a hypothetical situation where a student used prime factorization to find the Greatest Common Factor and the Least Common Multiple and then asked the students to determine how the student did it (with some help/ prompting but not much) and use that method to determine the GCF and LCM of a couple other sets of numbers.

Well, in my class of 23 I had about half who got started right off trying stuff, experimenting... I loved to see that. Unfortunately, I couldn't see much of that because the other half either had their hand up or were out of their chair in front of me wanting to know "what to do." I once again channeled my inner Dan Meyer and (as he so eloquently put it) vowed to "be less helpful." I simply refused to answer any questions. I looked at the students and said, "yep, I see where you are coming from... so what are you going to do?" I refused to answer any questions. I ended up with a good quarter of the class quite frustrated. I viewed this as a major success. This class is a genuinely talented math class and these students have, for the most part, skated through math. I think today was not like that for a number of them... and I'm proud to say that I did that to them!

By the end of the class, almost all of the students had worked out some sort of way to use prime factorization to find the GCF and LCM and I was able to do the notebook item with them and most of them got the exit card (and I'm fairly certain will be able to do the homework.)

Overall, I was very happy with the experience. I'm looking forward to more chances to "be less helpful!"

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