Saturday, August 26, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

Not that I'm feeling like a cowboy, you understand. But 3 weeks of teaching is enough to get me back into the rhythm again. Monday and Wednesday, meetings. Tuesday and Thursday, tutoring after school. Friday, pack up all papers for grading on the weekend. Saturday, catch up on household chores and grade. Sunday, grade, and make out the week's lesson plans. Monday...

Actually, I kind of enjoy the routine. I'm not someone that needs to have every day exciting and different.

Lately, I've been thinking about Direct Instruction. In our district, it's expected that we will be using that model of teaching. Not necessarily every day, or in every class, but often. And, as I incorporate more of DI in my lessons, I've noticed a few things:

  • Low-performing students improve markedly. Not surprisingly, since they are usually quite deficient in basic skills.
  • Average students achieve mastery more quickly.
  • High-end students are not bored by the repetition. They seem to be OK with it.

I've been focusing on using DI with the many math skills and concepts that are such torture to teach - fractions, decimals, metric measurement, graphing. I've been including a LOT more review each day, not just the previous day's work, but weaving back several weeks. I plan to continue hammering down on these topics, using motion and force as the science topics. I'll post in a few weeks on our progress.

Does this mean that using Modeling is out?

No. But I think that when students clearly indicate that they can't calculate a simple velocity problem, even after leading them through the process, more DI is a reasonable option. I've been calling parents, suggesting tutoring for those still struggling (or, more often, those who just sit there, waiting for other students or the teacher to give them the answers. Lord, are they a passive bunch!)