Dear Colleagues, I have spent the last week teaching an in-service to teachers in our state that are involved in our state systemic reform program VQUEST. Therefore, I have been reading all the posts on cooperative learning and the lecture, but too busy to write my ideas. As I read the postings about the lecture, all I could think about was sermons in my church. I am fairly religious and I always sit politely and try to concentrate during the sermon. Invariably, after about 8-10 minutes my mind starts to wander and I lose track of what is being said. I try very hard to stay attentive but I have great difficulty with concentrating on the oral word. I have a little better success if the pastor punctuates his/her message with jokes or little interesting stories. After the sermon I always feel so bad because I didn't stay attentive. My comments in the paragraph above were not to emphasize that I go to church, but rather to indicate how hard it is for me, an adult, to concentrate when someone is speaking for some time. I have found that I learn much better when I learn through the visual mode and actually experience the knowledge. Rather than hearing my pastor's sermon, I would do much better reading it by myself in quite. This is my learning style. How many of us design our lectures to meet the learning styles of our students? In regards to cooperative groups, the students that I teach come to me having experience in working in groups. As a result, I have no difficulty placing them in groups. In fact, everyone of my math classes (all five sections) are seated in groups, in many cases self-selected. Perhaps, though, my groups are collaborative groups rather than formal cooperative groups. Of course, many of my activities require individual hands-on activities. Yet, the students are always sitting in groups, with a "kindred spirit", to verify what they have done or to seek help. If I recall, two or three years ago, the NCTM Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, contained an article about the many models of cooperative learning. Again, if I remember correctly, the article said that there was no one particular model of choice used in the mathematics ed community. So, cooperative groups were not ruled by Slavin, etc. How many of us are familiar with the many models of cooperative learning? How many of us think that cooperative learing is just placing students into groups? I know I've said this before; it is one of my philosophies of life. We must be eclectic in our pedagogy. There is a time and place for all different types of instruction. The instruction and content must be looked at in light of the students with which we work and their special needs. A good teacher is re-evaluating methods every moment, and if necessary making changes everytime the need arises. A good teacher is not only assessing his/her students continually, but also, assessing her/his performance continually.
Math History Lives!
Karen Dee Michalowicz VQUEST Math Lead Teacher/Trainer Upper School Mathematics Chair Virginia Quality Education The Langley School in Sciences and Technology 1411 Balls Hill Rd, McLean, VA 22012 USA 703-356-1920(w) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (703) 790-9712 --or-- KarenDM@aol.com