Saturday, January 8, 2011

Follow Up to "Discipline"

Extra Credit Problem #7 (click on it for a larger version)
Earlier this year I gave my students an extra credit sheet of math problems that they could do in class or on their own time to help their grade. My motive was to give the students something to do when they finished classwork to prevent chit-chat, and also give the students who were doing poorly on homework an opportunity to improve their grade. In the words of one of my 8th graders, this turned out to be an "Epic Fail".

Transparency is important in teaching, and for me that means talking about my failures in addition to my successes. None of the 14 students in my class handed in the extra credit, not even after I told them to hand in what you have and I'll give credit for any correct answers. In other words, more of my friends that read this blog got credit for doing the '9 dots problem' than any of my students...

So to all the future teachers / first year teachers out there, don't be afraid to try something and fail. In fact, many of the things you try probably will fail. It will all be worth it, though, when something you try succeeds. I'm doing a project with the 6th grade science class next week that challenges them to make their own anemometer (wind speed measuring device). We'll see how it goes, cross your fingers...

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