My school isn’t 1-1 with technology yet, though there are rumblings we will get there next year….or the year after….or 2031…anyway, it’s time to get techy! My new classroom features 4 computer stations in the back – nice to have, but not super-helpful with classes of about 24 each. Station-model classroom structure has been super-helpful in my pre-calculus class in the first month. Besides the chance for all students to participate in rich technology-based activities, I’ve had the opportunity to carve out valuable small-group time with students. Here’s an example:
In our first pre-calc unit, we review functions and their shirts, folding in new ideas like the step function, piecewise and even/odd functions. My objective for the class was for students to consider functions in varied forms. As students entered class, playing cards were drawn to establish their groupings, so there were 3 groups of 7 or 8. With 15 minutes on the classroom clock, students started on their first station:
- Group 1 gathered in a small group with me in a circle of desks, where we worked through proving functions even or odd, and sketching their graphs.
- Group 2 worked at the computer stations on a Desmos Marbleslides featuring quadratic functions, with many students pairing up to work together. If you have never tried a Marbleslides, run and play now – we’ll wait for you to come back…
- Group 3 worked out in the courtyard (hey, my new classroom leads outside – which is nice) on a group task involving a piecewise function.
After groups had rotated through all 3 activities, we had time to recap / share and assess our learning over the hour. Here’s why I need to do this more:
- The small group station let me touch base with every student, assess strengths, find out what we need to work on, and provide feedback to everyone.
- Marbleslides is sneaky awesome! When students begin to obsess over function shifts and how to restrict domains and don’t want to peel away from their computer, you know something is going right.
- Class went fast! It felt like the mixed practice from Let It Stick was now becoming part of my classroom culture.
- My pre-calc is mostly 11th and 12th graders, who have had a pretty traditional classroom experience in their math lives. I can sense they appreciate that something difference is happening.
- All students are responsible for their learning. Even the least-active task, the piecewise function, was used the next class for sharing out and a jumping-off point.