While working on my first blog post today I stumbled on a twitter post from Kate Nowak regarding this blog post from Math Stories. Obviously if you read my first post it is obvious that I don’t just always lead with the “punchline” I lead the unit with the whole plot line. And this blog post and resulting twitter conversation made me really think about that practice. I am not saying I’m right and I’m not saying I’m wrong I think this conversation is a great one to have as professionals.
So why do I lead with the standard? I guess I just feel that if I am holding students responsible for learning “it” then they might as well know what “it” is. We begin every unit with the data collection sheet and study guide I posted early. We have an entire class period where we just talk about what they see. We take the mystery and the scary out of it. They tell me what seems familiar and what seems like rocket science. We look for themes we brainstorm where they have seen these things before and then we do something crazy…they tell me how they think they should learn “it”. Sometimes they have good ideas and sometimes they are terribly off base but in reality the same can be said about my ideas so I don’t judge.
It is incredibly gratifying to have kids bring in a picture they took at Sonic because they know we are getting ready to do probability and they want the class to discuss the slushy combinations possible at Sonic. The way I see it if leading with the standard is giving away the punchline then my kids routinely come up with their own punchline instead and who am I to take that away from them?
The beautiful part of this is that the students are able to move on without me when they are ready to. As a class we still may be stuck on the first standard but because the kids already know the “punchline” they move on to the next standard without me and catch the rest of us up when we get there. I never review for a test or give out old school study guides instead the students work together with people struggling with the same things they are and work together to improve.
I am interested in hearing other thoughts about this practice. I am always looking to improve and if I am screwing up 120 kids a year by revealing the punchline first I better quit doing it pretty fast because there are too many other ways that are much more fun to screw them up!