So I guess I’m doing the daily-debrief thing this week, just offset by one day. I have been teaching, getting an idea about what to write about, titling the post and then saving the draft ’cause I just don’t have time rightthen! And then, I have gotten home and something has prevented me from finishing. Yesterday it was Chris Hunter’s fault:
I mean, given the choice between writing a blog post and having a tweet-up, what would you do? I rest my case.
My students–many of them freshmen–have been commenting pretty regularly and pretty consistently that our 80 minute blocks have been flying by. It’s kind of interesting hearing the variety of class lengths they had in middle school. I’ve heard everything from 30 (!) to 60 minutes. And every one of them has said that the time seemed to go by slower in whatever ridiculously short time interval their middle school used.
Now part of this is certainly novelty. But the other part is the fact that I am being a complete task master this week. Yes, you have 80 minutes of math; but that doesn’t mean you have an extra 2 minutes to goof around with your buddies. Oh no.
Yesterday was a prime example of that. I had a task that students had begun the previous day, working in parallel. Each kid had their own pile pattern and had to extend the pattern (in both directions), find the area of each pile and represent it in a table and graph, and to sketch pile 100 and pile x. Today’s task was to compare and contrast their individual patterns and see how they were all representative of the same general type of pattern (in this case they all happened to be quadratic). But I broke it down for them:
Okay class, right now you have 5 minutes to look at each other’s patterns and write a list of all the ways in which they are similar.
Five minutes is up! Next task. Each of you needs to write a sentence (yes, using words) that describes how your individual pattern is growing.
Okay, time’s up! Now…
(You get the idea.)
Having a short amount of time to complete a task (but not too short) creates a sense of urgency, which leads to active engagement, which leads to productivity, which makes time seem to move more quickly than normal. It’s kind of funny how that happens.
Yesterday the classroom was buzzing, students were getting a ton done and they were forced to interact with one another–a good thing for freshmen in their first week of school! This is one of the things I really enjoy about starting a new class.
Sometimes as the year progresses I get more comfortable with students and then I forget to use these kinds of tricks. Hopefully writing them down will help me to get them all stuck in my brain for future use this year.