A Wonderful Lesson

Every once in a while, a lesson just comes together beautifully.  I had such a lesson today.  The learning intentions were that we master multiplying and dividing by powers of 10.

The S2 class has only been together for a week, and is quite mixed in ability.  We started the lesson with 10 quick questions, and this showed that about half the class could already do these problems pretty accurately.

At this point, I threw caution to the wind and said "In 10 minutes from now, we'll do another set of 10 - work together however you want until then to see if we can all get at least 7 out of 10.  If anyone doesn't manage, we share responsibility - especially those people who did well the first time!"  I didn't give them any resources, or specify how they should work.  To my delight, they organized themselves into groups around folk who were confident and spent 10 minutes trying to explain to each other the methods.

The next 10 quick questions were answered much more accurately, but we still had a few folk that needed more help.  This presented a challenge for the "experts" as well as those who needed help.  Some "experts" came up to the whiteboard and tried some more explanation, and those needing help gave them some honest feedback about how helpful they had been!  The onus was on the "experts" to explain clearly - those needing help were in the driving seat.

In the end, we got everyone through the last sets of 10 questions with at least 7 out of 10, and one of those needing help got a spontaneous round of applause for a 9 out of 10.

It was a real feelgood lesson that built the sense of community in the class.  I think I'll being using the idea of a shared responsibility for the success of everyone a lot more in future.


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