What's the Value Added?

3/30/2009 05:56:00 pm

Cross posted from a ning community I'm in.

Watch this first:

OK, so this is going to sound weird coming from a math teacher — I'm liable to be run out of the club for saying it — but, in most subjects, does every kid have to learn exactly the same stuff?

Here's what I'm thinking (and I don't think it's an original thought):

Don't send them home to read and listen to the lecture, send them home to take in a short (10-15 min video) or even a micro lecture. Then change the classroom into more of a lab or studio environment. Each kid produces a paper or other artifact of what they've learned and shares it with the rest of the class either face-to-face or online; they become expert in the area they've chosen to explore and at the same time develop the research skills to learn related content when needed.

The question I try to ask myself is: What is the value added for my students by being in the same room with me? If I recorded my lecture (video or audio) and they watched it at home, did the assignments and handed them in, would they be missing something by not being here physically?

I do think my students gain value by being in the same room with me, but most often when I speak very little. I let them work through the problem(s), debate and defend their work with each other, and only towards the end, when they've collectively sucked the marrow from the bones of the problem do I either ask another question that fires them all up again or draw their attention to the finer points of how best to share their thinking on paper.

This is what the video I embedded above suggests to me. I know I'm not there yet, but man! I'd like to be.

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