H-3 Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning. When the classroom and school community are respected as places of learning, student success is promoted and learning is uninhibited by unnecessary restrictions.
In the lesson plan presented below, students are encouraged to work collaboratively within groups of 3-6 students to solve for recursive equations given a sequence. Each group was given a different sequence and asked to solve using dry erase markers directly on their tables before then copying their work into math journals. In this way, students teach each other by discussing and writing their work for each other to see. Having completed their assigned problem, groups were then asked to review the work of at least two other groups and writing the others’ results in their personal math journals. Finally, one group was selected to demonstrate their work and rational in front of the class.
Students were uninhibited by the tables as work spaces since they were able to use as much space as needed. Students were also able to quickly erase mistakes and make corrections. When the groups were satisfied with their own work, they were asked to leave it on the tables for other groups to review. In reviewing the work of others, students were able to look to the entire class of peers as a resource for learning. They could learn from the work of others, ask questions, and then take notes in their personal math journals.
Finally, one group of students was asked to come forward and present their work in front of the class. Though their work was observed by several groups, the specific sequence they were given was at a level of greater difficulty and importance. In this way, all students were able to benefit from a more instructional time of learning (peer to peer instruction). The teacher, instead of directly instructing, led the presenting group through a series of questions about how they had solved their problem and why they were able to perform the operations they did. Not only did the students presenting have the opportunity to grow in communication and further understanding of their own work, but the entire class benefited from their work without having to struggle through it individually.
Through this lesson, I learned the power of peer instruction and collaboration. The teacher need not be the only source of learning. When students are in an environment which promotes peer communication and creativity in displaying their learning, they are able to thrive and grow as learners.
In the future, table tops will be continued to be used as resources for displayed work and examples. Additionally, I plan to continue selecting students to present in front of the class to demonstrate their work. I will especially look to encourage less confident students to do so (in content they display proficiency). I believe this to be one way to promote a healthy learning community where all students are valued.