My students in my geometry concepts classes are struggling with doing anything more than note taking. So I am now on a mission to get these learners to get involved in some of the teaching by introducing more student centered activities and getting the students to think and speak rather than the same old listen listen listen.
After using twitter to find an awesome way to introduce inductive/deductive reasoning to my class (which my CT says is one of the hardest units for geometry concepts) I began putting it into action. I found a comic strip and cut up a bunch of copies to make a sort of jigsaw puzzle. I then spent (a little too much time probably) writing down possible student responses and how I would answer them or lead the class to discuss a way to finding the answer.
My debate-ably over the top planning paid off though! Because today I let the students piece together the comic strip and then show their work at the front of the class. Each group of two students participated in the discussion (which is rare in itself) but also a few students who I thought would avoid going to the front and sharing were more than happy to take the spot light for awhile.
These two examples were probably the most common arrangements for the comic. After emphasizing that saying a panel goes at the end “because it makes sense” was not explaining your reasoning, the discuss got a lot better. There were even reasons like the cat looked angry or he howled in pain which were much stronger reasons. In my first period, the students were even challenging each other, like saying the example above were wrong because the dictionary would knock Garfield off the fence meaning that panel must be the last one. This type of reasoning, and critiquing of others, is exactly what I was hoping for.
This last example is unique since it was one of the few that had the dictionary coming in and hitting Garfield early rather than late. When asked their reasoning they were unable to make a clear statement, but after others said the punchline in a comic is usually at the end, they defended by saying it was funny to keep making the noise after getting hit by the dictionary. Could be true, but bottom line is the students discussed and challenged each other very well in my first period which got us on a great foot to talk about inductive and deductive reasoning.
Unfortunately, in my fourth period the students enjoyed putting the comic together but struggled to vocalize their reasoning as to why panels were in a certain order. Similarly, other students in the class failed to really challenge the presenting groups panel arrangement. One student even said everyone is right because the joke is funny no matter what the order. While this is true, I mentioned that certain arrangements set up the punchline better and make it more funny but that did not seem to satisfy him.
Anyways, I do think this activity was a success in both hours, although much more successful in first period where we discussed it for over 20 minutes whereas in 4th period we discussed the comic strip for barely 15. I believe the students are more comfortable with each other in first period where they can find it fun to challenge each other, although it is very possible my energy level is drained by 4th period in which case I might need to start drinking coffee more often!!