Collaboration Struggles

I really really really want my students to collaborate this trimester. Nearly every year, I start with my students in pods of four. And at the end of nearly every year, my desks are separated from these pods. In recent years, the desks have ended up in pairs – so that’s OK I guess… Regardless, improved student (and teacher) collaboration is one of my goals this year.

Seventy-ish percent (just a guess) of my students enjoy working and collaborating together and actually get something out of it. When this happens, and I get to watch it, it’s AMAZEBALLS. I love it. It makes me happy.

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However, 70-ish percent is just not good enough for me. I’ve already had complaints of “my group never talks.” And I’ve seen it. I need to take more stock into actually  getting students to collaborate positively with each other. Especially in my Algebra 2 Concepts class – I think that will be my challenge this trimester. I want them to be POSITIVE collaborators.

So I’m trying to do the whole assign roles for each person in the group. And actually hold them accountable – I just don’t really know how this is going to happen. The plan is to introduce and assign these roles tomorrow. I was also inspired by @JustinAion to get kids to say positive things about each other’s work – I need to give this a “go.”

Any advice?

Week three begins tomorrow 🙂

Best Week EVER!

Literally. Best. Week. Ever.

Last Tuesday was the first day of my thirteenth year of teaching. I know what you’re thinking – I look so young. But seriously, thirteen years. This has been the best first week of school I’ve experienced so far. I took so many pictures to illustrate the wonderment of this week. But of course, they’re on the iPad in my desk drawer. So, I’ll have to save those for a later post. The one picture that I do have is perhaps the most important one…

 

Every first day of school since I started teaching, she’s sent me flowers. I love her so much!

First Day Activity

Along with others in my department, we tried the blanket challenge with our classes. It was great to see students working together on the first day, without instruction. Just seeing them work out their ideas. Most worked really well. There were one or two that got frustrated by their lack of teamwork skills. Definietly going to focus on teamwork within my classes this year.

After the blanket challenge, it was the Mrs. Hazelton show. I put together a slideshow on things that make me happy. Then each student decorated a notecard with one thing that makes them happy. Each of these notecards got posted on my new HAPPY WALL. (Pictures to come.)

Ok moving on.

I teach Algebra 2 Concepts & Skills and Honors Probability & Statistics. I’ve taught Algebra 2 Concepts & Skills for the past 6 years. It’s a class I have dreaded in the past. This year though, I feel very optimistic. The class size going from 35 to 24-ish probably has something to do with this 🙂 I know that the motivation may still be an issue, but I know I can get to know these kids SO MUCH BETTER now. I will DEFINITELY have more to post about this bunch!

My Honors Probability & Statistics classes are off to a great start! I started with an informal survey project to see how they would collect and present data. We were on the verge of Sampling Methods. Nothing formal was introduced at all last week. We JellyBlubbered one day and did a card sort the next day. Such great discussion within these groups. In the Jelly Blubber Activity, the student groups (ALL of them) decided to select their samples based on size – choosing 1-2 to represent each size group. I thought that was really interesting! The card sort was amazing. The students sorted the cards by the sampling method. Tomorrow we will introduce the formal vocabulary and see what we can do with these activities.

I love my job. I hope I can keep up this energy and enthusiasm all year. Wish me luck 🙂