Last week as I was drafting the Teacher Packet for “I Get a Kick Out of Soccer” I was looking through all of the student submissions that we received in 1999 and I suddenly started seeing solution threads from my former students at Frisbie Middle School: Mark, Jessica, Shambria, Ciara, Alicia, Erica, Sharlene, Marvin, Leah, Octavius, Reina, Chanelle, Conseulo, Akira, Regnica, Norma, Bryant, Kathy, Robert, Keturah, Laura, Luis, Faviola, Rickisha, Xuyen, and Shirley. There were 26 of the 31 students I remember having in that math class, the last year I was at Frisbie. Their ages at that time were 12 or 13 and so I realized that now they are 23 or 24 years old. Wow!

The two students on the left are Jessica and Mark. That’s me in the middle photo and on the right Norma and Regnica are sitting together at one of the computers. In the photo below Consuelo is looking toward me. My classroom at Frisbie was a computer lab. We had twenty LC575s each connected to the Internet via ethernet. With 31 students some of them worked in pairs when we used the computers. It was always a challenge to find space for groups to work but moving keyboards out of the way or finding a spot on the carpeted floor became normal for my math students!

Another thing that happened last week was a conversation where we were talking about the order that you have students work on problem solving. We identified the possibilities of having students:

* work individually
* turn and talk
* turn and work

I really like the distinction between “turn and talk” and “turn and work.” And I can see that with some tasks, students would benefit from doing these three in a different order.

What are some tasks you have students work on when they “talk” before they “work” or vice versa? When do you have students work individually before working in pairs or in a group? Do you have students work individually after starting to work in pairs or in a group? Are there other possibilities to add to the list of three I’ve noted here?