April 2012 Archives

"Stop the madness for constant group work." said author Susan Cain in her recent TED Talk, The Power of Introverts. "We need to be teaching kids to work together, for sure. But we also need to be teaching them how to work on their own because that is where deep thought comes from." (Check out Cain's talk--it's enlightening and inspiring.) I agree with Cain, which may seem like I'm contradicting myself, since teamwork is the "t" in my "success comes from the H.E.A.R.T." acronym. But the "r" in H.E.A.R.T. is resourcefulness, which ...


"I'm returning your tests, but don't look at them yet. Keep working on today's assignment." I've heard many teachers, including me, make requests like this, and then return students' tests--face down, of course. Yet rather than comply, students compare or complain. Compare scores: "I got an 85. What did you get?" And compare answers, which is when the complaining begins: "Coach G, how come you took points off for me on #7? I had the same thing as Justin and he got credit. That's not fair!" So much for students working on today's assignment--and good luck getting them to refocus ...


Just hearing the F word can cause kids (adults too) to freak out. And if you think about it, there are lots of reasons students feel flummoxed by fractions. For one thing, there's the misleading vocabulary, as when we reduce a fraction to lowest terms even though it doesn't involve a reduction in value. Or when we call a fraction "improper" just because its value is greater than one. Then there are apparent inconsistencies between arithmetic with natural numbers and arithmetic with fractions. Multiplying 10 by 5, for example, increases the value from 10 to 50. But multiply 10 by ...


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