In the past unit I taught on graphical models, the course focused on regression modelling using the TI-83 Graphing Calculators. Having used them myself during my high school education I was initially excited for the chance to use them in my own classroom. Unfortunately it was short lived when I went to the GAFE Summit and I decided to use the Chromebooks and the app Geogebra.
The first day I brought the Chromebooks into the classroom my students were slightly confused on how a math class could use the same technology they used in English and the Humanities. I introduced the program, created a help guide with Google Docs that they could access, and walked them through the new piece of technology (while assuring them that I was still a beginning user so we were learning together). After the class ended a lot of discussions arose about the unfamiliarity of the program and how some wanted to use the graphing calculators even though they did not fully enjoy those either.
After the third time we used the tech students who “mastered” the steps were able to help their classmates who did not fully understand how to produce the various regression models. To my delight students were more appreciative of the new tool they were provided and even found that their resilience was paying off. Great discussions in the class began about which model to use based on the situation and the R Squared value. I will admit I was delighted that this was working well and I began to share my new knowledge to my coworkers.
Students wrote their test and instead of the smiling faces or confident submissions I was expecting I found that students were confused and were very upset about their potential mark. I spoke to some students after the class to understand why they were not very happy with the way the assessment went and their responses initially shocked me. “We felt like we could produce the graphs and describe them, but we could not describe a graph that was provided for us”. I thought through the unit and looked at my plans only to realize that I focused a lot of the lesson on being able to use the tech and not as much time as needed on understanding the outcome.
As a first year teacher I realized that I fell into the bad trap of getting lost in the new tech and unfortunately created students who could follow steps instead of thinkers. One thing that I think will help me in my next attempt at using this is writing out a pros and cons list and a next steps list. I also started tracking what points students had difficulty with so I can prepare for these in future classes.
My question to those of you reading it is how do you prepare your students to be clearer thinkers rather than students who follow steps? (and this example above was a college level class that I am looking at helping develop deeper understanding)