Hi there, I've been working on the logistics of the blog. I'm trying to get it cleaned up and ready to be put up for people to actually comment and give input.

Last Wednesday I went to two of my schools and worked with small groups again. I got a first hand experience of frustration and another experience of groups not working well together.

At my first school, small groups were reviewing for a quiz by doing Jeopardy-style team work problems on regular polygons. At first it was hard to insert myself into a group and assume that the kids knew what they were doing, but I found myself giving small hints that would prompt them along. Some of the groups responded well to my hints and I even challenged a group's answer. Asking them to clarify the question helped them see if their answer was right or wrong. The question was similar to: "Draw a quadrilateral that has four right angles." Asking the group "What's a right angle?" and "What has to happen with the lines for an angle to be a right angle?" are leading questions I asked them.

One group didn't work as well together as a group because none of the students were listening to each other. I tried to get them to listen to each other, but as the game progressed this group got more and more frustrated they weren't getting the right answers. It was certainly tough to convince them they just needed to keep trying and to work more as a team to get points. I tried positive reinforcement "You guys got this, you were close last time, just keep trying" but when it was time for me to leave, the group was still struggling.

Like I've said before, some competition is healthy for students to have something to work towards, but often, I wonder if competition is detrimental to learning.

At my second school, I was working with my small group of kids. We started off well, I asked them how things were going or if they had a good story to share. We jumped into unit reviews of multiplication and division. Some of the questions asked to show work for two approaches to the same problem. For example: "Solve two ways: 35 x 27"

Not being raised on different approaches to multiplication or division (long form was all I was taught) I had to rely on the students to help each other. Some of the students started with a box method that I suggested to the others, and I walked through long form multiplication and division for the kids. I would also like to argue that estimation is a valid solution for division.

One of my kids got really frustrated with a second solution for a division problem and shut down. I felt really bad that I couldn't get him to refocus on his work. I suggested he skip the problem and continue on to the next problem, but it took a quick word from his teacher to snap him out of it.

If anyone's reading this later on: suggestions?

## Tuesday, November 10, 2009

### Catching up

Labels:
different approaches,
division,
elementary,
group work,
math,
multiplication,
polygons

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