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Topic: Changing the Teacher's Role
Replies: 13   Last Post: May 21, 2008 5:56 PM

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Missy Taft

Posts: 6
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: the teacher as facilitator
Posted: Mar 28, 1999 4:47 PM
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I agree with Janice that the primary role of the teacher in using
Investigations is to be a facilitator or moderator. There are
secondary roles, though. When I introduce a brand new concept, we
have we call "yellow paper days," where I lead the whole class in
considering a new problem solving approach or concept. Students
grapple with the new concept and make notes on yellow paper, which
they throw away at the end of the period. (In our class, yellow paper
is used strictly for draft versions of work and is never graded.)
They love this "risk free" approach to trying something new. When I
do this, initially, there is considerable direct instruction and a lot
of quiet thinking time as students ponder the new concept. I control
the flow of the discussion be making sure students have at least 5
minutes of silent thinking time to ponder the problem (that's a
loooong time to be quiet in a classroom!). Students raise their hands
when they "get it", but cannot speak until everyone raises their hand
or officially declares that they can't "get it." In the early stages
of introducing a concept, I am more in the traditional instructor
mode. It doesn't last long, fortunately.

Once students are working with a familiar concept, which is really
most of the time, my role is to be a facilitator and let them explore
their own solutions or strategies. When students are working in pairs
or groups, I visit each cluster of students and discuss their thinking
with them, answering questions or re-directing individuals as needed.
When the class is called back together at the end of the period, my
role is to moderate the discussion and let different students come to
the board or overhead and share their solutions. Students do the
actual presenting and discussion, I just keep order and call students
to come up.

In these whole-class summary discussions, I stress diversity of
thinking and problem-solving strategies. I have emphasized repeatedly
that we all have different perspectives and ways of solving problems,
and that we can learn from each other's successes and failures. I
love it when a student comes up and shares a mistake and tells how
s/he corrected it. I also love it when a student thinks of a solution
to a problem that never occurred to me before. I always let students
know when they come up with something I have never thought of, as we
are all exploring mathematics together. I let them know that I am not
the ultimate authority. They can solve the problem however they want,
not just "how the teacher does it."

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