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I’ve done a better job of launching our inquiry into electricity than I did last year.  The key was talking about atoms (which leads to thoughts of electrons), not electricity (which leads to thoughts of how to give someone else an electric shock from an electric fence, lightning, and stories students have heard about death by electrocution).

The task was simple: “Go learn something about electrons, about atoms, and about electrical charge.  For each topic, use at least one quote from the textbook, one online source, and one of your choice.  Record them on our standard evidence sheets — you’ll need 9 in total.  You have two hours.  Go.”

I’ve used the results of that 2-hour period to generate all kinds of activities, including

  • group discussions
  • whiteboarding sessions
  • skills for note-taking
  • what to do when your evidence conflicts
  • how to decide whether to accept a new idea

We practiced all the basic critical thinking skills I hope to use throughout the semester:

  • summarizing
  • asking questions about something even before you fully understand it
  • identifying cause and effect
  • getting used to saying “I don’t know”
  • connecting in-school-knowledge to outside-school experiences
  • distinguishing one’s own ideas from a teacher’s or an author’s

I’m really excited about the things the students have gotten curious about so far.

“When an electron jumps from one atom to the next, why does that cause an electric current instead of a chemical reaction?”

“When an electron becomes a free electron, where does it go?  Does it always attach to another atom?  Does it hang out in space?  Can it just stay free forever?”

“What makes electrons negative?  Could we change them to positive?”

“Are protons the same in iron as they are in oxygen?  How is it possible that protons, if they are all the same, just by having more or fewer of them, make the difference between iron and oxygen?”

“If we run out of an element, say lithium, is there a way to make more?”

“Why does the light come on right away if it takes so long for electrons to move down the wire?”

“What’s happening when you turn off the lights?  Where do the electrons go?  Why do they stop moving?”

“What’s happening when you turn on the light?  Something has to happen to push that electron.  Is there a new electron in the system?”

“With protons repelling each other and being attracted to electrons, what keeps the nucleus from falling apart?”

“What happens if you somehow hold protons and electrons apart?”

“Would there be no gravity in that empty space in the atom?  I like how physics are the same when comparing a tiny atom and a giant universe.”

I’m experimenting with ideas from Nancy Kline’s Time To Think.  She discusses the importance of listening with undivided attention and respect, as a condition for helping people think well.  She asks people to keep their eyes on the speaker, using your face and body to show respect for their thinking.

In class today, I discussed the difference between critiquing the ideas and critiquing the person — that we aren’t here to agree thoughtlessly with everything anyone says, but to discuss (and possibly disagree with) ideas while respecting people as thinkers.

I asked students to show me, with their body and face, what it looks like if you do and do not respect someone.  Here’s what they did.

How to Show Disrespect and Inattention

  • Chat to each other
  • Take out your phone
  • Put your head down on desk
  • Face palm (or worse… DOUBLE face palm!)
  • Hide your eyes or look away

How to Show Respect and Full Attention

  • Eyes on speaker
  • Take notes
  • Smile
  • Ask questions
  • Add comments
  • Back and forth conversation, and (perhaps surprisingly)
  • Use friendly humour

I challenged us to use these techniques to convey our attention and respect as students presented their research.  So far conversations are lively: lots of questions, people are chiming in with supporting evidence, and wondering aloud.  They also joked and let their imagination run a bit with metaphors and analogies.  Sometimes the students asked me to summarize or synthesize if their lines of thought appeared to conflict, but mostly my role was to draw attention to positive moves like using diagrams or physically acting out electrical phenomena with their bodies, and to close the questions so that all groups would have time to present.

Improve Next Time

When someone asks a question that goes beyond the source, presenters often start presenting a new idea that seems plausible as if it’s supported by their research.  How do I help the presenter and the listeners distinguish between their wondering/remembering vs. the source’s information?

Here are the resources I’ll be using for the Peer Assessment Workshop.

Participant Handout

Participants will work through this handout during the workshop.  Includes two practice exercises: one for peer assessment of a hands-on task, and one for peer assessment of something students have written.  Click through to see the buttons to download or zoom.

 

Feel free to download the Word version if you like.

Workshop Evaluation

This is the evaluation form participants will complete at the end of the workshop.   I really like this style of evaluation; instead of asking participants to rank on a scale of 1-5 how much they “liked” something, it asks whether it’s useful in their work, and whether they knew it already.   This gives me a lot more data about what to include/exclude next time.  The whole layout is cribbed wholesale, with permission, from Will At Work Learning.  He gives a thorough explanation of the decisions behind the design; he calls it a “smile sheet”, because it’s an assessment that “shows its teeth.”

Click through to see the buttons to download or zoom.

 

Feel free to download the Word version if you like.

Other Stuff

In case they might be useful, here are my detailed presentation notes.

This week, I’ve been working on  Jo Boaler’s MOOC “How To Learn Math.”  It’s presented via videos, forum discussions, and peer assessment; registration is still open, for those who might be interested.

They’re having some technical difficulties with the discussion forum, so I thought I would use this space to open up the questions I’m wondering about.  You don’t need to be taking the course to contribute; all ideas welcome.

Student Readiness for College Math

According to Session 1, math is a major stumbling block in pursuing post-secondary education.  I’m assuming the stats are American; if you have more details about the research that generated them, please let me know!

Percentage of post-secondary students who go to 2-year colleges: 50%

Percentage of 2-year college students who take at least one remedial math course: 70%

Percentage of college remedial math students who pass the course: 10%

My Questions

The rest, apparently, leave college.  The first question we were asked was, what might be causing this?  People hazarded a wide variety of guesses.  I wonder who collected these stats, and what conclusions they drew, if any?

Math Trauma

The next topic we discussed was the unusual degree of math trauma.  Boaler says this:

“When [What’s Math Got To Do With It] came out,  I was [interviewed] on about 40 different radio stations across the US and BBC stations across the UK.  And the presenters, almost all of them, shared with me their own stories of math trauma.”

Boaler goes on to quote Kitty Dunne, reporting on Wisconsin Radio: “Why is math such a scarring experience for so many people? … You don’t hear of… too many kids with scarring English class experience.”  She also describes applications she received for a similar course she taught at Stanford, for which the 70 applicants “all wrote pretty much the same thing.  that I used to be great at maths, I used to love maths, until …”.

My Questions

The video describes the connection that is often assumed about math and “smartness,” as though being good at English just means you’re good at English but being good at Math means you’re “smart.”  But that’s just begging the question.  Where does that assumption come from? Is this connected to ideas from the Renaissance about science, intellectualism, or abstraction?

Stereotype Threat

There was a brief discussion of stereotype threat: the idea that students’ performance declines when they are reminded that they belong to a group that is stereotyped as being poor at that task.  For example, when demographic questions appear at the top of a standardized math test, there is a much wider gender gap in scores than when those questions aren’t asked. It can also happen just through the framing of the task.  An interesting example was when two groups of white students were given a sports-related task.  The group that was told it measured “natural athletic ability” performed less well than a group of white students who were not told anything about what it measured.

Boaler mentions, “researchers have found the gender and math stereotype to be established in girls as young as five years old.  So they talk about the fact that young girls are put off from engaging in math before they have even had a chance to engage in maths.”

My Questions:

How are pre-school girls picking this stuff up?  It can’t be the school system. And no, it’s not the math-hating Barbie doll (which was discontinued over 20 years ago).  I’m sure there’s the odd parent out there telling their toddlers that girls can’t do math, but I doubt that those kinds of obvious bloopers can account for the ubiquity of the phenomenon.  There are a lot of us actually trying to prevent these ideas from taking hold in our children (sisters/nieces/etc.) and we’re failing.  What are we missing?

July 22 Update: Part of what’s interesting to me about this conversation is that all the comments I’ve heard so far have been in the third person.  No one has yet identified something that they themselves did, accidentally or unknowingly, that discouraged young women from identifying with math.  I’m doing some soul-searching to try to figure out my own contributions.  I haven’t found them, but it seems like this is the kind of thing that we tend to assume is done by other people.  Help and suggestions appreciated — especially in the first person.

Interventions That Worked

Boaler describes two interventions that had a statistically significant effect.  One was in the context of a first-draft essay for which students got specific, critical feedback on how to improve.  Some students also randomly received this line at the end of the feedback: “I am giving you this feedback because I believe in you.”  Teachers did not know which students got the extra sentence.

The students who found the extra sentence in their feedback made more improvements and performed better in that essay.  They also, check this out, “achieved significantly better a year later.”  And to top it all off, “white students improved, but African-American students, they made significant improvements…”  It’s not completely clear, but she seems to be suggesting that the gap narrowed between the average scores of the two groups.

The other intervention was to ask seventh grade students at the beginning of the year to write down their values, including what they mean to that student and why they’re important.  A control group was asked to write about values that other people had and why they thought others might have those values.

Apparently, the students who wrote about their own values had, by the end of the year, a 40% smaller racial achievement gap than the control group.

My Questions:

Holy smoke.  This just strikes me as implausible.  A single intervention at the beginning of the year having that kind of effect months later?  I’m not doubting the researchers (nor am I vouching for them; I haven’t read the studies).  But assuming it’s true, what exactly is happening here?

Since I’m known to experiment compulsively with Web 2.0 and ed-tech tools, I’ve been asked to present a workshop for the campus PD week on blended learning.  This is an interesting tension for me for a few reasons.

Return on Investment Often Too Low

On one hand, I try to give a fair shake to any promising tool or technique.  On the other hand, most of the software, Web 2.0, or gadgets I’ve tried didn’t make it into my ongoing practice.  Reasons include

Bigger Gains from Assessment, Critical Thinking, and Quality Feedback

Although screencasting, “flipped classroom” experiments, and peer instruction have been helpful to me, they have not caused the massive gains in effectiveness that I got from skills-based grading, self and peer assessment, incorporating critical thinking throughout my curriculum, or shifting to inquiry-based modelling.  But, I wasn’t asked to present on those topics; I was asked to help people think about blended learning.  Planning for the workshop has been an interesting exercise in clarifying my thinking.

Blended Learning Is…

People seem to mean different things when they say “blended learning.” Some possible meanings:

Face-to-face meetings, in a group where everyone’s doing the same thing, during school hours, in classrooms, blended with

  • Learning at your own pace
  • Learning in another location
  • Learning at other times
  • Learning that does not have to be done in a specific order
  • Using a computer to learn (maybe online, maybe not)
  • Using an internet-based technology to learn
  • Learning that is customized for the student’s level
  • Learning whose pace, location, time, or order is controlled by the student

It’s hard to have a short conversation about this, because there are several independent variables.  Here are the ones I can name:

  • increasing the level of computerization
  • automating the process of providing students with work at their demonstrated level of achievement
  • increasing the data collected about student skills (naturally, computerized assessments offer different data than teacher observation…)
  • increasing the level of student control, but only in some areas (format and speed, not content)

Are We Doomed to Talk Past Each Other?

The thing I’m finding hardest to articulate is the need to disaggregate these variables.  Some advocates seem to assume that computers are the best (or only) way of adapting to student achievement, collecting data, or empowering students.  The conversation also runs afoul of the assumption that more computerization is good, because young people like computers.

Here’s my attempt at an outline for a conversation that can at least put these questions on the table.  I will provide a list of resources for participants to take away — so far, I’m thinking of including some resources on visual design (probably from dy/dan, as well as The Non-Designer’s Design Book and maybe Presentation Zen), as well as some of the posts linked above.  I’ll probably include at least one piece debunking the assumptions about “digital natives”.  Other suggestions?  If you were just starting to think about blended learning, what would you want to know more about?

The workshop is on Thursday — all feedback welcome.

Before the Workshop

  1. Watch this video about blended learning
  2. Read this blog post assessing the effectiveness of blended learning
  3. Use a feedback sheet to write a summary and keep track of questions that arise, and bring a copy with you to the workshop
  4. Use a GoogleDoc to vote on techniques you would like to know more about

Intros

  • Brainstorm in groups: What blended learning techniques have you used, if any?  What questions do you have so far?
  • Gather questions on front board

What is Blended Learning?

  • Explain common definitions
  • Ask group for other definitions
  • Explain common reasons for trying it
  • Ask group for other reasons why someone might try it
  • Each participant identifies advantages/goals they are most interested in working toward, and enters them into a worksheet
  • Discuss in small groups and modify/add to list if desired.

Examples of Blended Learning Techniques

Each presenter discusses the techniques they have used.

Participants take a moment at the end of each technique to evaluate whether it would contribute to their identified goals

How Can We Assess the Effectiveness of Blended Learning?

Results

Each presenter discusses the results they noticed

Your Plans

  • Invite participants to think of something in their teaching that they would like to improve, and consider if any of the tools we’ve discussed can help.
  • Participants explain their plans in small groups, and keep track of questions that come up.
  • Questions added to the class list

Q&A

Return to any questions that haven’t been answered.

Recommendations

  • Each presenter passes on any recommendations they have for teachers starting to explore blended learning.  Mine:
  • Learn about visual design
  • Practice learning new software — it’s a skill and you can get better
  • Learn to program — it helps you look at computer programs with a more critical eye
  • Check out the resources included with the day’s worksheet
  • Stick around and experiment with these tools if you would like

This just in from dy/dan: Jo Boaler (Stanford prof, author of What’s Math Got to Do With It and inspiration for Dan Meyer’s “pseudocontext” series) is offering a free online course for “teachers and other helpers of math learners.”  The course is called “How To Learn Math.”

“The course is a short intervention designed to change students’ relationships with math. I have taught this intervention successfully in the past (in classrooms); it caused students to re-engage successfully with math, taking a new approach to the subject and their learning. In the 2013-2014 school year the course will be offered to learners of math but in July of 2013 I will release a version of the course designed for teachers and other helpers of math learners, such as parents…” [emphasis is original]

I’ve been disheartened this year to realize how limited my toolset is for convincing students to broaden their thinking about the meaning of math.  Every year, I tangle with students’ ingrained humiliation in the face of their mistakes and sense of worthlessness with respect to mathematical reasoning. I model, give carefully crafted feedback, and try to create low-stakes ways for them to practice analyzing mistakes, understanding why math in physics gives us only “evidence in support of a model” — not “the right answer”, and noticing the necessity for switching representations.  This is not working nearly as well as it needs to for students to make the progress they need and that I believe they are capable of.

I hope this course will give me some new ideas to think about and try, so I’ve signed up.  I’m especially interested in the ways Boaler is linking these ideas to Carol Dweck’s ideas about “mindset,” and proposing concrete ideas for helping students develop a growth mindset.

Anyone else interested?

On Exploring RC Circuits and trying to figure out why the capacitor charges faster than it discharges

Student 1: “Is the charge time always the same as the discharge time?”

Me: “According to this model, it is, if the resistance and capacitance haven’t changed.”

Student 2: “I’ve got data where the charge time was short and the discharge time was long.”

Me: “Why would a reasonable teacher say something that contradicts your data?”

Student 3, excitedly: “What circuit was it?  Was there anything else in the circuit?”

Student 1: “I can’t remember what it was called — it had a resistor, a capacitor, and a diode.”

Student 2: “That’s it then!  The diode — it’s changing its resistance!”

Student 1: “Yes — it goes from acting like a short to acting like an open.  Thanks for bringing that up [Classmate’s Name] — I just answered a HUGE question from that lab!”

Student services counsellor who sat in for a day

“You’re challenging my whole idea about science.”

While exploring why capacitors act like more and more resistance as they charge

“Maybe the negative side of the cap is filling up with electrons, which means less capacitance.  According to the ‘tau model’, charge time = 5 * R * C.  So if the charge time never changes, and the capacitance is going down, then the resistance must be going up.”

[I’m excited about this because, although it shows a misunderstanding of the definition of capacitance, the student is tying together a lot of new ideas.  They are also using proportional reasoning and making sense of the story behind a formula. I need a better way to help students feel proud of things like this…]

Student critique of a Wikipedia page

“There’s some great begging the question, right there!”

Student analyzing the mistake in their thinking about a resistor-diode circuit

“I didn’t think of current not flowing at all during the negative alternation of the source.  This would mean that the direction of current through the resistor does not technically change.  I thought that if current was flowing through the resistor, it would change direction even if there is a very small amount of current flowing.  I did do a good job about thinking of the electrons already in the wires.”

One student’s feedback on another student’s paper

“I understand fully what you are trying to explain!”

On figuring out why a diode works

“If you make the connection to a wire, it’s like how copper atoms…”

“If it wasn’t doped, wouldn’t current flow in both directions?”

Students discussing a shake-to-charge flashlight they are designing

“In our rechargeable flashlight, if you put the switch in parallel with the diode, when it’s closed it will just short it out…”

Student who gave a recruiting presentation at a high school

“The day was a great step up for me that I never ever thought possible.  To be able to go back to the high school where I am pretty sure most had given up hope on me and see and hear them tell me how proud they are of me for where I am today is a feeling I will never forget.”

Here’s what the first-year students have to say about the two circuits courses they take with me, now that we’re nearing the end.

My Interpretation

They’re more confident in their time management, their organization, and their control over their learning.  I’m doing a better job of anticipating their thinking, and when I fail, a better job of not being visibly dismayed! They’ve made major improvements in their ability to articulate their ideas, especially their disagreements, clearly and respectfully.

Their Words

Letting myself make mistakes is how I learn the most.  Being able to reassess is allowing me to do this.

It seems there is more  material to cover compared to semester 1 — not sure if something could be moved to level out the material.

Fast-paced but able to keep up

Extensions help

Material is interesting — never boring or stale.

Students are contributing more in conversation — I see a noticeable improvement

Real-life situations — big improvement!

Hard to soak all the information in

Quit job or at least ask for time off

We are helping each other out more now than before.  It helps when others are stuck and have classmates to give a hand.

You do a great job being supportive

Teaching is great.  Having [conversations] at the end of labs really helps dig up the “funny,” also makes it easier to grasp important details that might get missed otherwise.

Things sometimes seem overwhelming but always manageable.

More people are showing up on time, prepared.

I think you have improved a lot with the understanding and being patient.

Horseplay in the lab is distracting — students should manage their time better instead of complaining about workload

Being able to book a meeting makes skills easy to get signed off, get to have 1:1 time with teach and ask questions, figure out problems.

On network analysis

“At first I didn’t understand why we had to learn these complicated methods when we could just do it the simple way you showed us last semester.  But when you get to these complicated circuits, it makes it so much easier.  I do math every night now, even if I don’t have any for homework, because you have to exercise all the time or you lose it.”

On graphical waveform addition

“I got off to a bad start with this, I had the wrong answers for everything, and I really didn’t know how to do it.  I won’t lie.  But now after taking all these measurements, I’m starting to understand.  And I did really bad on that first quiz — I didn’t even know what DC offset was. But I made up some practice problems that are a little bit different from the quiz, and I can do them now.”

On AC voltage, sinusoidal signals, and what the time domain really means

“I just realized that the word ‘electronics’ has the word ‘electron’ in it. ” (x2) (After a conversation about how a sinusoidal signal represents a voltage or current that changes over time)

“Is this why we need DC voltage for electronics — so it doesn’t turn off all the time?”

“In an AC circuit, how to the electrons get their energy back after they’ve lost it?” (I love the insight in this question — the synthesis of ideas, the demand for a coherent cause)

While presenting some routine lab measurements

“How does an electron know how much voltage to drop in each component?” (7 months later, students are suddenly gobsmacked by the totally weird implications of Kirchoff’s Voltage Law)

During a one-on-one discussion of the group’s interpersonal dynamics

“I find no one in this program is looking for someone to give them the answers.  We might text all night long about homework but it’s never ‘Can you send me X,’ it’s always ‘How can I figure out X?’ “

While whiteboarding some AC circuit data

“I don’t like saying that KVL applies to instantaneous voltages, because it applies everywhere.”

“But if you say instantaneous, it applies in a general sense. Have you ever seen an AC circuit where the component voltages didn’t add up to the supply?”

Another whiteboarding session

“Make sure you’re talking about electrons, otherwise it’s not a cause!”

“And that’s supported by the model, because…”

While designing an experiment

“Do you have a 1uF capacitor?” “No, I guess we can use 100uF and scale it…”  (Students making big gains in proportional reasoning)

After discussing how a capacitor’s voltage approaches an asymptote

“I never noticed before how much math relates to life — like the idea that sometimes the closer you get to something, the harder it is to get there.  I guess it’s not surprising — because math comes from life.  Math is everything.”

This year I’ve really struggled to get conversation going in class.  I needed some new ways to kick-start the questioning, counter-example-ing, restating, and exploring implications that fuel inquiry-based science.  I suspected students were silent because they were afraid that their peers and/or I would find out what they didn’t know.  I needed a more anonymous way for them to ask questions and offer up ideas.

About that time, I read Mark Guzdial’s post about Peer Instruction in Computer Science.  While exploring the resources he recommends, I found this compelling and very short PI teacher cheat sheet. I was already curious because Andy Rundquist and Joss Ives were blogging about interesting ways to use PI, even with small groups.  I hadn’t looked into it because, until this year, I’ve never been so unsuccessful in fostering discussion.

The cheat-sheet’s clarity and my desperation to increase in-class participation made me think about it differently.  I realized I could adapt some of the techniques, and it worked — I’ve had a several-hundred-percent increase in students asking questions, proposing ideas, and taking part in scientific discourse among themselves.    Caveat: what I’m doing does not follow the research model proposed by PI’s proponents.  It just steals some of their most-easily adopted ideas.

What is Peer Instruction (PI)?

If you’re not familiar with it, the basic idea is that students get the “lecture” before class (via readings, screencasts, etc), then spend class time voting on questions, discussing in small groups, and voting again as their understanding changes.  Wikipedia has a reasonably clear and concise entry on PI, explaining the relationship between Peer Instruction, the “flipped classroom”, and Just-In-Time Teaching.

Why It’s Not Exactly PI

My home-made voting flashcards

My home-made voting flashcards

  • I don’t have clickers, and don’t have any desire for them.  If needed, I use home-made voting cards instead.  Andy explains how effective that can be.
  • I prefer to use open-ended problems, sometimes even problems the students can’t solve with their current knowledge, rather than multiple-choice questions.  That’s partly because I don’t have time to craft good-quality MC items, partly because I want to make full use of the freedom I have to follow students’ noses about what questions and potential answers are worth investigating.
  • Update (Feb 19): I almost forgot to mention, my classroom is not flipped.  In other words, I don’t rely on before-class readings, screencasts, etc.

What About It is PI-Like?

  1. I start with a question for students to tackle individually.  Instead of multiple-choice, it could be a circuit to analyze, or I might ask them to propose a possible cause for a phenomenon we’ve observed.
  2. I give a limited amount of time for this (maybe 2-3 minutes), and will cut it even shorter if 80% of students finish before the maximum time.
  3. I monitor the answers students come up with individually.  Sometimes I ask for a vote using the flashcards.  Other times I just circulate and look at their papers.
  4. I don’t discuss the answers at that point.  I give them a consistent prompt: “In a moment, not right now but in a moment, you’re going to discuss in groups of 4.  Come to agreement on whatever you can, and formulate questions about whatever you can’t agree on.  You have X minutes.  Go.”
  5. I circulate and listen to conversations, so I can prepare for the kinds of group discussion, direct instruction, or extension questions that might be helpful.
  6. When we’re 30 seconds from the end, or when the conversation starts to die down, I announce “30 more seconds to agree or come up with questions.”
  7. Then, I ask each group to report back.  Usually I collect all the questions first, so that Group B doesn’t feel silenced if their question is answered by Group A’s consensus. Occasionally I ask for a flashcard vote at this point; more often, collect answers from each group verbally. I write them on the board — roughly fulfilling the function of “showing the graph” of the clicker results.
  8. If the answers are consistent across the group and nothing needs to be clarified, I might move on to an extension question.  If something does need clarification, I might do some direct instruction.  Either way, I encourage students to engage with the whole group at this point.

Then we’re ready to move on — maybe with another round, maybe with an extension question (the cheat-sheet gives some good multi-purpose prompts, like “What question would make Alternate Answer correct?”).  I’m also a fan of “why would a reasonable person give Alternate Answer?”

Why I Like It

It doesn’t require a ton of preparation.  I usually plan the questions I’ll use (sometimes based on their pre-class reading which, in my world, actually in-class reading…).  But, anytime during class that I feel like throwing a question out to the group, I can do this off the cuff if I need to.

During the group discussion phase (Step 4), questions and ideas start flowing and scientific discourse flourishes.  Right in this moment, they’re dying to know what their neighbour got, and enjoy trying to convince each other.  I don’t think I buy the idea that these techniques help because students learn better from each other — frankly, they’re at least as likely to pseudoteach each other as I am.  I suspect that the benefit comes not so much from what they hear from others but from what they formulate for themselves.   I wish students felt comfortable calling that stuff out in a whole group discussion (with 17 of us in the room, it can be done), but they don’t.  So.  I go with what works.

No one outside the small group has to know who asked which questions.  The complete anonymity of clickers isn’t preserved, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem so far.

Notes For Improvement

There are some prompts on the cheat sheet that I could be using a lot more often — especially replacing “What questions do you have” or “What did you agree on” with “What did you group talk about,” or “If your group changed its mind, what did you discuss?”

There’s also a helpful “Things Not To Do (that seemed like a good idea at the time)” page that includes my favourite blooper — continuing to talk about the problem after I’ve posed the question.

If I was to add something to the “What Not To Do” list, it would be “Shifting/pacing while asking the question and immediately afterwards.”  I really need to practice holding still while giving students a task, and then continuing to hold still until they start the task.   My pacing distracts them and slows down how quickly they shift attention to their task; and if I start wandering the room immediately, it creates the impression that they don’t have to start working until I get near enough to see their paper.

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