kitchen table math, the sequel: Steve on teachers, homework, and Extra Help

Friday, February 15, 2008

Steve on teachers, homework, and Extra Help

"I check to make sure they made the effort and tried the assignment while they check their answers, and we go over every single problem that is asked."

Do you collect the homework? You should. I did. I didn't grade each problem, but I saw what the issues were myself on a daily basis and I gave each homework a check/plus/minus effort grade. If you don't collect the homework and grade it somehow, then students don't have any incentive to do it in the first place. When I went over problems in class, I didn't have to rely on students to ask questions. Few do.


"How can you assume that it's a "teacher problem" when something isn't understood in class?"

How can you, the professional, assume that it isn't when you rely on the kids to tell you if there is a problem. You see and grade the tests. What do you do if students have major issues? By the time you get to a test, it's really difficult to go back and fix things. Perhaps eliminating homework and giving weekly quizzes would work better. Something other than monthly tests needs to push the students and inform the teacher about what is going on.

High school kids should take more responsibility, but you can't use that as a prerequisite for a good education. You have to try to structure things to prevent failure, not just leave it up to the kids.

Many students would NEVER come to my office hours. I never threw that back at them. I tried to think of ways to make it unnecessary for them to need extra help. Students hate going for extra help. It's a last resort. By then, the problem is really bad. A large use of extra help by many students implies that there is something fundamental going wrong, and it can't be blamed on the students.


Steve is on a roll today.

Having just finished Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot the Dog - a life-altering book - I've been thinking about this issue here at home.

We were reaching - had reached - the point at which I was using "aversives" to compel C. to get things done.

Of course I learned years ago, from behaviorists who taught us techniques for raising autistic kids, that aversives aren't very effective. Pryor goes further. Pryor argues, rightly I believe, that negatives have negative side effects.

A "negative reinforcer," by the way, increases the likelihood that a particular behavior will be repeated in the future. That's why it's called a "reinforcer," and that's what makes it different from a punishment. A punishment doesn't increase the likelihood of the punished behavior occurring in the future.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), punishers also don't particularly decrease the likelihood of the behavior occurring again. Behaviorists universally seem to think that punishing bad behavior just is not an effective means of getting people to straighten up and fly right.

In theory, a negative reinforcer should be no different from a positive reinforcer; in both cases the behavior being reinforced is likely to be repeated. Thus doing your math homework to get a good grade should be no different from doing your math homework to avoid getting a bad grade.

But in reality, negative reinforcement has side effects. This is Pryor's view; I don't think this is a consensus view in the field. Pryor is a researcher and a trainer. Her many years of animal training have made her an advocate of the exclusive use of positive reinforcement.

More on side effects later.

Everything Steve has said in his comments thus far could have been written by Pryor. I think.

Here at home, I've been working on increasing positive reinforcement while reducing negative reinforcement and punishment.

Pryor is right: positives work far better than negatives.

Why is it so much more difficult to use them, I wonder?

44 comments:

SteveH said...

I remember reading an almost counter-culture book ages ago that had a chapter on the proper use of sloth, indolence, and apathy. The idea was to design systems that used these basic human traits for positive purposes. The only example I remember was the use of "sunset laws". It was the idea that all laws should have a time limit. Once they expired, people would have to expend a lot of effort to reenact them. This would happen only for things people really cared about.

Instructivist said...

Blogger has a feature to keep the spammers out. It's annoying to posters but may be necessary.

Catherine Johnson said...

I closed down comments on the thread with the many Jasons.

If we keep getting spam I'll activate the wavy-letters feature.

I'd rather not.

It's a time-waster.

Catherine Johnson said...

What was the book????

I'm dying to read it.

I had already reached the sunset clause idea myself.

John (Ratey) made this point constantly. Work with human nature, not against it.

He was the neuropsychiatric version of Karen Pryor; he was very focused on the environment.

It's critical to set up the environment to promote the behaviors you want to promote.

That's the issue with homework - the environment makes it easy to do what kids want to do anyway, which is play videogames instead of doing homework.

Catherine Johnson said...

Everyone should read Pryor. She's amazing. It's not obvious how to apply the book to one's own situation, but I'm discovering that even a none-too-adroit "application" works wonders.

We have major cooperation with extra work going on around here now.

The concept that was most helpful to me was "shaping." I really hadn't grasped this before, even though we've all talked about breaking subject matter down into small steps, which amounts to the same thing.

The "quit while you're ahead" principle is also incredibly important. Of course I "know" this principle, in the abstract, but I wasn't applying it.

Pryor's book is also extremely effective at motivating you to change what you're doing.

The shaping principle needs to be front and center at all times.

Shaping when it comes to persuading a teen to do extra school work means starting unbelievably small and reinforcing your teen for doing one little thing even though you think he ought to be doing a lot more.

Catherine Johnson said...

Everyone should read Pryor. She's amazing. It's not obvious how to apply the book to one's own situation, but I'm discovering that even a none-too-adroit "application" works wonders.

We have major cooperation with extra work going on around here now.

The concept that was most helpful to me was "shaping." I really hadn't grasped this before, even though we've all talked about breaking subject matter down into small steps, which amounts to the same thing.

The "quit while you're ahead" principle is also incredibly important. Of course I "know" this principle, in the abstract, but I wasn't applying it.

Pryor's book is also extremely effective at motivating you to change what you're doing.

The shaping principle needs to be front and center at all times.

Shaping when it comes to persuading a teen to do extra school work means starting unbelievably small and reinforcing your teen for doing one little thing even though you think he ought to be doing a lot more.

ElizabethB said...

When the children were still learning their letters, after a certain amount of DVD watching, the only thing I would let them watch was "the talking letter factory." When faced with the choice of no DVD or educational DVD, guess what gets picked?

I also have the same plan going with the computer and things like starfall.com and a phonetic spelling and reading program that is called "Read, Write, and Type."

Now if I could only find a fun game or DVD to help teach addition! (And eventually, subtraction, multiplication, and division.)

That's why capitalism works, it harnesses greed in a positive manner.

Anonymous said...

"Now if I could only find a fun game or DVD to help teach addition! (And eventually, subtraction, multiplication, and division.)"

I like TimezAttack for multiplication. But my 7-year old doesn't. We'll probably do multiplication the old fashioned way (flashcards and a *lot* of drill).

-Mark R.

Catherine Johnson said...

I read a funny line on communism once: Good idea, wrong species.

Though I'm not sure I know a species that would make a good candidate for communist social arrangement.

Actually, Pryor has a very nice passage on this idea, too.

She says that all social species have status hierarchies (true) and that social species have status hierarchies in order to decrease conflict. (I have no idea whether that's true, but it is a consensus view.)

Pryor believes there is no way to make a utopian society based in equality work no matter how much positive reinforcing you do.

Mass equality is contrary to social nature.

I'm probably going to have to read Murray Sidman, who seems to be one of the mentors for people like Pryor.

Sounds like he's fairly hostile to capitalism.

Obviously these folks are well outside their range of expertise, but I'm curious to see what he has to say.

Catherine Johnson said...

Mark - flash cards didn't work for a bunch of us - don't know why

Worksheets were great and fast

(Rafe Asquith says the same thing - doesn't have his students use flash cards.)

I have no idea whether this is generally true; it's just something to keep in mind.

Anonymous said...

"Mark - flash cards didn't work for a bunch of us - don't know why

Worksheets were great and fast

(Rafe Asquith says the same thing - doesn't have his students use flash cards.)

I have no idea whether this is generally true; it's just something to keep in mind.
"

And worksheets usually don't work well for my son :-) I think it is two things:
1) He is intimidated and/or overwhelmed by the number of problems, and
2) His penmanship is weak relative to his math skills.

One advantage to doing this one-on-one is that I can tailor the approach to his preference. This would be harder to do in a class of 20.

-Mark Roulo

SteveH said...

"What was the book????"

It's called "The Conquest of Society" by Snell Putney. I thought it was pretty good at the time, but that was 35 years ago. I still have it on a bookshelf somewhere.

SteveH said...

"... and reinforcing your teen for doing one little thing even though you think he ought to be doing a lot more."

This reminds me of a technique one parent told me about. They visualize themselves as a slowly moving wall, constantly pushing bit by bit.

Then there is the "rule technique", where you agree to a rule or a plan. After that, there is no argument (almost), because "that's the rule".

Anonymous said...

Hey Catherine,

Is there a good way to email you? I can't find a link on the blog itself. Am I missing it?

Either blogger or your spam filter swallowed a few of my posts today. I did post often enough to FEEL like a spammer, but really, it wasn't that. They were long and I didn't keep them, and I can't really recreate it all, and weirder still, there were on teh site because I saw them for a few minutes but now they've disappeared.

maybe I wasn't logged in properly and they came up as anonymous?

One was on this thread, and it was about why you must correct homework and mistakes as early as possible; one was on that earlier gigantic thread about price change problems; one was on the thread just below that in response to a comment "by all means, script" but my response was that scripting proper math for grades 5 - 12 is hard, etc.

any way to know if they can be recovered?

instructivist said...

Allison,

A blog owner can set things up so that posted comments appear in the mailbox (Settings -> Comments -> Comment Notification).

So there is a good chance to recover them if the comments posted. Nevertheless, the scenario you describe is mysterious.

I once lost a lenghthy and important post at another site (not blogger) due to an overeager spam filter. Incredibly, the spam filter was set up to intercept posts containing the words "prescription" and "specialist". The latter because the filter saw the dreaded "cialis" lurking in specialist. To my knowledge, blogger does not have spam filters.

Other than the overeager spam filter, the site in question has a nifty way to keep out automatic spammers. To post you have to perform a mathematical operation and enter the answer. This beats the wavy letters used by blogger. It could become a nice way to teach math facts to pupils.

Tex said...

Shaping when it comes to persuading a teen to do extra school work means starting unbelievably small and reinforcing your teen for doing one little thing even though you think he ought to be doing a lot more.

That is sooo hard to do. Of course, I always think he should be doing more.

I wonder if shaping would work in persuading a teen to do MINIMAL schoolwork, forget the extra!

I am ordering the book right now.

lgm said...

ElizabethB:
Clue Finders and the original Math Blaster Age 6-9 are fun PC games to practice computation skills. Your library may have a copy.

War is a great game too; Denise at Let's Play Math has all the variations written up.

Catherine Johnson said...

Allison - EMAIL ME! (AND CHERYL T!)

PLEASE!

I tried to find yours, too. Wanted to send you an invitation to join.

cijohn @ verizon.net

Catherine Johnson said...

LSQUARED, TOO!

(still must answer hypatia's email ---- GETTING BEHINDER AND BEHINDER)

Catherine Johnson said...

ither blogger or your spam filter swallowed a few of my posts today. I did post often enough to FEEL like a spammer, but really, it wasn't that.

OH NO

We desperately need those comments.

EMAIL ME NOW - I'll send you an invitation to join - I don't know if that gives you a better means of searching, but it might.

I'm going to get all your price change comments pulled together to put inside one big post.

Catherine Johnson said...

Tex - Lynn is interested in having some kind of online book club about Don't Shoot the Dog (and I'm thinking we might be able to rope in palisadesk seeing as how she has a lot of free time...)

We need to study this book. It is gold.

Just my few little amateur uses of it thus far have been VERY productive.

C. has a cheerful attitude - he'd gotten pretty sullen and resistant - and he's focused on his future; he's interested in doing well in high school and getting into a good college; he's working with us.

This is at age 13, which isn't an easy or cooperative age as far as I can tell.

There's just no question in my mind that the principles of learning theory are correct and powerful.

The book also allows you to analyze what it is more precisely that's going wrong in public schools.

The chronic focus on "character" and "resonsibility" and "Seeking Extra Help," for instance, is a form of negative reinforcement or punishment, depending on the situation.

Both are counterproductive.

Catherine Johnson said...

And, yes, parents like us always think our kids should do more.

That is our first mistake.

They should do less.

(Or, rather, we should ask less and reinforce what we get.)

Catherine Johnson said...

btw, C's two math teachers this year follow these principles.

They ask less of the kids in their way - the homework sets are highly streamlined - and they are getting the most learning in C. that we've seen.

Both teachers are highly reinforcing. The kids love them.

palisadesk said...

Lynn is interested in having some kind of online book club about Don't Shoot the Dog (and I'm thinking we might be able to rope in palisadesk seeing as how she has a lot of free time...)

We need to study this book. It is gold.



Definitely count me in, but not because I have much free time (last weekend was pretty good, I was snowed in so got lots of surfing and housework done). Lousy weather triples commuting time though so I haven't kept up with all the posts.

I had the good fortune last year to meet Karen Pryor at the precision teaching conference (she gave an address and one of the sessions was on Tag Teach). One evening during the conference another attendee and I were eating dinner in the hotel dining room and KP came in and asked to join us -- woo hoo! What an interesting and delightful person.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh you must tell us more when & if you can!

Catherine Johnson said...

I have now read and studied Don't Shoot the Dog; so has palisadesk -- I wonder if I ought to set up a Yahoo list for discussion?

Or....is there some way to do a shadow blog?

I think there is.

We could set up a "sister blog" devoted to discussions of Pryor's book, reports on how we're trying to use it, etc.

Pryor also has a list devoted to clicker training...but that's a little more than I'm able to do at the moment. I have a very specific need to deal with a teen, along with a very specific need to deal with MYSELF -- and then there are the 2 autistic kids...

...plus the dogs...

About the only person in the house who doesn't need behavior management at the moment is my husband.

That's gotta be some kind of novelty!

Tex said...

Tex - Lynn is interested in having some kind of online book club about Don't Shoot the Dog (and I'm thinking we might be able to rope in palisadesk seeing as how she has a lot of free time...)

I am IN!

TerriW said...

Me, too, me, too, me, too....

I just ordered it from my library.

Tracy said...

I'm in - I've just read it.

Concerned Teacher said...

Catherine, Here's my take:

Homework papers in my 5th grade classes are quickly pregraded by a neighbor, under my direction. Papers are returned to owners for corrections. This is invaluable time for the students. I circle around the room to assist any student who truly doesn't understand or is unable to prove the correct answer. Showing proof is important -- an answer isn't correct until all of the necessary steps are included.

This time is also invaluable to me. If I see a problem that is missed by more that 3-4 students, I know I haven't done my job of teaching, of anticipating problem areas, or haven't reviewed enough. I bring those students up to the board in a group and I reteach the concept, trying to get students to see where their reasoning or procedures were incorrect. And if any still don't get it, I find another approach until they get it. I can't imagine leaving a student to "wonder" why they missed or got off track. And sometimes it may mean reteaching the entire class!

If it is left to 5th graders or middle schoolers, even many high schoolers, to tackle and learn it all on their own, there is enough immaturity in their own reasoning to keep them from seeing the consequences down the road that come from "hoping" or "guessing" they do it properly, In that immaturity, they are willing to "take the chance". And they are most assuredly willing to take this chance if the papers will never be seen by a teacher!

Either I let them proceed in their foolishness, or I teach and reteach and require them to use proper procedures until they get it. I choose to do the latter. But silly me! I thought that was my job -- to teach!

I've done this for 26 years, in public and Christian schools, and I wouldn't consider doing it any other way. I've never had a student who did not want to learn and to succeed. Success breeds success.

I know I've been away a long time. But I just couldn't resist this opportunity to add to this strand.

Kristen said...

"Either I let them proceed in their foolishness, or I teach and reteach and require them to use proper procedures until they get it. I choose to do the latter. But silly me! I thought that was my job -- to teach!"

I hope that wasn't directed at me. I teach, and I think I'm pretty good at it (at least from what the kids tell me). Just because I choose not to collect every assignment from every student doesn't mean that I don't know what they're doing. Walking around doing spot-checks is a great time for me to see what the kids are doing (because I can look and know if they've got the idea or not) and if I see several kids make the same mistake or skip the same problem, then I know what I need to go back and cover. It's also a great time for the quieter ones to ask me questions - that way they don't have to speak up.

I enjoy your take on things, but please don't tell me that your way is the only way.

Concerned Teacher said...

I'm addressing the immature students, at whatever grade level, who know the teacher will not see the work they do.

My husband came home the other day, with a story of the high school daughter of an associate. She didn't care whether she did the work correctly or not -- the teacher gave everyone a completion grade if they just tried and put something down!!!! The father was at a loss.

I know a teacher who tells me she spot checks but she can't really check their work and if they don't take the time to do it properly, "they are only hurting themselves." Many 5th and 6th graders do not have the maturity to see how they are hurting themselves and are willing to run the risk.

I won't tell you this way is the only way. But I will tell you this way is the best way for young and/or immature students who, in their lack of wisdom, will choose every shortcut they think they can get away with.

If they think I'm not going to see the work or will not take up a paper, they become lazy.

I will tell you that seeing every division of fraction problem the student does the first week after I've introduced the concept is critical. It prevents students, even smart ones, from forming bad habits, using improper procedures and allows me to discern where they got offtrack.

I agree with you so much, walking around, spot-checking is a great time. It does give the quieter ones a time for questions they might not ordinarily ask. But I find that method really helps the quick workers who do most of the work in class, not the slower ones who have much to finish at home. I only know what gives them trouble by seeing what they missed the next day and being available, walking around, as they do their corrections. That time of corrections is critical, especially if the teacher is right there to help. Even then, I still take up papers to look over their corrections. It enables me to pick up tendencies and trends a specific student might have and to reteach.

Thanks for the feedback, Kristen. I'm sorry if I've misunderstood your methods or your time in helping your students.

palisadesk said...

Many of the recent comments have left me scratching my head in wonder. Wonder, because it appears that many can and do teach math lessons to the whole class (or nearly the whole class).

It has been years since I saw a classroom (especially a 4-8 classroom) where the teacher could regularly do this. The range of skills and abilities is just much too broad.

What I'm seeing is something described by Don Crawford (long-time DI person and developer of several Otter Creek math programs)here: Inclusion

The problem, as he sums it up, is this:
The experiments prove that achievement is not helped if multi-age grouping is used to allow students to pursue their own ends or to let everyone work individually. Full inclusion advocates want precisely this kind of enviroment and wish to eliminate direct instruction of homogeneous groups of students, which they consider "lockstep" instruction. By supporting full inclusion all the time, advocates hope to make it impossible to do direct instruction anymore. This will have a negative effect on achievement of all students.

There are several reasons for opposing a policy of full inclusion even though that policy sounds like the "right thing to do" on first hearing. As has been stated earlier, one reason is because full inclusion of an extremely wide range of abilities into general education classrooms makes direct, systematic instruction nearly impossible. In addition, once full inclusion is implemented, teachers are forced to change their teaching methods to more child-directed, discovery-oriented, project-based learning activities in which every student works at his or her own pace. This has never produced high levels of achievement anywhere it has been tried


This is the case in my district (and in many others, as I know from teachers on my other groups). All work must be individualized, small-groop, project-based or whatever. This effectively prevents using ANY effective curricula, whether it be DI, Singapore Math, Saxon or something else. The same holds true for reading and language istruction. It's "every child working at his own level" with very little INSTRUCTION because the instructional levels of the students are so disparate.

I have found NO way around this. If others have I would like to hear about it.

Catherine Johnson said...

Our 4-5 principal has written a letter from the principal saying that differentiated instruction means that each student will be taught individually. (I'm working from memory here, btw. If I can find the newsletter I'll fact-check.)

I was floored when I read this.

The idea wasn't even that you have 3 different levels of kids in a classroom.

If you have 20 different levels you have 20 different levels.

Catherine Johnson said...

At the same time that we are all hearing about differentiated instruction - and that differentiated instruction is part of the Strategic Plan, I believe - the two accelerated classes in the middle school are "taught to the top." The material and lectures are such that only the gifted (or the very smart and highly tutored) manage to absorb the material easily. Everyone else struggles, but no effort to "differentiate" so they won't struggle is made.

Instead parents are told that their child doesn't think inferentially or is immature and should Seek Extra Help.

Sink or swim.

Catherine Johnson said...

I know a teacher who tells me she spot checks but she can't really check their work and if they don't take the time to do it properly, "they are only hurting themselves." Many 5th and 6th graders do not have the maturity to see how they are hurting themselves and are willing to run the risk.

Right.

That's the attitude here.

We had an unpleasant meeting with the science teacher and the science chair recently.

After they tried in 3 different ways to tell us that C's problem in the course is that he is weak in "inferential thinking," and then told us the problem is that I don't sign and return Interim Reports (true), they settled on the explanation that C. hasn't been studying every night for pop quizzes. (also true)

The kids are supposed to come in every day prepared for a pop quiz -- but the teacher only gives a pop quiz once in a blue moon.

By that time most kids have concluded "it's not going to be tomorrow" - which is mostly correct.

When we asked the Director of Admissions at Fordham Prep about this he said he would never rely on pop quizzes because "Teenagers are natural Russian roulette players."

Catherine Johnson said...

Of course, a kid playing Russian roulette with his education is only hurting himself!

Catherine Johnson said...

echnique one parent told me about. They visualize themselves as a slowly moving wall, constantly pushing bit by bit.

You know, that analogy doesn't work in terms of the nitty gritty of what a person is actually doing when he or she is "shaping behavior" - partly because when you do it right you can shape behavior VERY quickly.

It does work as a means of helping a parent lower expectations to the point at which expectations are working for you (and your kids) instead of against you.

Here's an example of positive reinforcement and shaping working quickly.

I started reading Pryor's book....over Christmas??

I think I started using her ideas over Christmas break or not too long after.

Within a couple of weeks things were much better around here.

Yesterday's mini blowup is a good example. C's great friend E. was here. Got into a huge blowup with his dad on the telephone towards the end of his visit. Screaming, swearing, etc.

C. thought this was great.

An hour later, when I mentioned that I wanted C. to study for the upcoming state math test, C. decided to blow up, too.

"You're crazy."

"What's the matter with you?"

"I'm not studying for the state test."

"The SATs are 3 years from now."

etc.

This is all being shouted at me.

We hadn't had a scene like this in quite some time and I managed to stick to my Karen-Pryor guns and ignore the outburst.

When I say "ignore" I mean no eye contact, no conversation, etc. (I didn't pull this off 100% but I did pretty well.)

Meanwhile Ed got back from shopping and C. instantly assaulted him. Normally Ed would have been tempted to mediate.

That's always bad because while he doesn't allow C. to triangulate him against me, he is tempted to do so and C. picks up on the fact that he has a sympathizer in his dad.

Which makes things worse.

This time, because I've been using Pryor's book and because it's been working, Ed had about five seconds of thinking, "Gee, why should he study for the state test?" before simply withdrawing from the debate.

That's what has to be done: no reinforcement for "teen lawyering."

About 10 minutes into the whole thing C. was still quite worked up when I asked him if he wanted to listen to my reasoning or carry on yelling.

I had asked this question a couple of times already (which I shouldn't have).

This time he was getting frustrated by having both of his parents pointedly ignore him and he decided he would (grudgingly) listen to my explanation.

I cheerfully explained to him that his Verbal score on the ISEE is fantastic and said that we want his math score on the SAT to crack 700 - and that we think that is well within his powers if he gets going now.

Then I said that the school had us buy the state test prep book, that the book is pretty good, and that all of the material on the state math test is going to be on the SAT and that even if it's not it is basic material he needs to know cold.

I said one more thing that I think helped.

I said that last year I had made a mistake in the way I'd had him use the book. (He did every single lesson and every single problem in the test prep book and STILL got a "3" - missed a "4" by 1 point.)

I said that I was going to have him use the test prep book the way his teacher uses the algebra book: I was going to "shuffle" the problems instead of doing one lesson & then moving on.

This was probably the "psychological" part: I was transferring authority and "power" from me to his teacher. "Your teacher does it this way; that's the way to do it." (which is true - I was being honest, not manipulative)

And that was that.

He calmed down immediately, cheered up, and agreed to study for the state test.

Just a few weeks ago this would have been a whole big THING.

Catherine Johnson said...

Another example.

Today I was pointing out to Ed that C. is developing goals, is focused on the future, is thinking about what he needs to get on the SAT, etc.

Ed said, "Well, I think he's getting more mature. He's assimilating these goals and making them his own."

(MATURE! AGAIN WITH THE MATURE!)

I said, "He's not more mature than he was 6 weeks ago. The difference is that I've been using positive reinforcement and shaping. Those approaches make a student want to assimilate goals as his own."

It's true.

Six weeks ago C. was somewhat burned out and disengaged. Because he's a good kid he was doing his assignments. But that was it. If he missed an assignment due to absence he didn't care; "that was then."

He has some real energy and engagement now.

He's far more engaged with the work we ask him to do here at home, but I would say he's more engaged with his school work, too.

He acts as if he sees a future for himself in school and in college to follow.

This is entirely due to Karen Pryor.

(KNOCK ON WOOD)

Tracy said...

My husband and I are going to try clicker-training on me washing the dishes next time it's my turn.

I keep forgetting to check that everything's clean. I know I should, but I forget. And noticing it fifteen minutes later once I've wiped down all the surfaces and let the hot water out isn't affecting my behaviour while I'm washing the dishes.

So time to try something else.

Catherine Johnson said...

Wait- what happens?

I don't understand.

I need someone to start clicking me.

Anonymous said...

I'm just about finished with Hirsh's "The Schools We Need And Why We Don't Have Them," which riffs quite a bit on the "differentiated curriculum" topic. His basic point is that if you have individualized education, then you're neglecting the rest of the class at the same time. Having say 1/25th of the teacher's time at full strength and the other 24/25 at full neglect is no good, with which I concur.

He's a little too cavalier about faster kids tutoring the slower ones for my taste, though. If they're either doing that or "doing more challenging work," what happens when the rest of the class is ready for this more challenging work that the first kids did already?

We're in the private (elementary) school market ourselves; it's honestly stunning how many "progressive" buzzwords are in each school's brochure.

-m

concernedCTparent said...

It is stunning. I just visited a local Catholic school expecting that things hadn't changed extremely since I attended parochial school. The math is still, for the most part, traditional. Language arts, on the other hand, is haunted by "writer's workshop". Sadly, they've recently moved to incorporate state standards instead of keeping their own. This can only lead to decline over time considering the miserable state of our state standards.

Lsquared said...

I teach college, so I feel a little as though I shouldn't have to collect homework...but, of course, I do. If you don't collect it, they don't do it. Collecting the homework may be the single most effective thing I do to improve student learning. I don't check all the problems, just 2-4 representative ones, but it still makes a big difference.