Bumps on a Log

Today is our fourth day back to school since winter break and the students are acting like ‘bumps on a log’. Only a few will answer questions/volunteer answers and the rest seem like they are out in space somewhere.

I have read many articles about motivating students over break. I thought the topic we were working on this week would connect with students but it doesn’t seem to be. We are working on scale factor. I have tried connecting it to the real world by talking about creating video games, designing clothes, being an architect or interior designer.

I don’t know if it’s just me, if the students just don’t care, if the students just don’t get it, or if they do get it as I am not seeing any response (positive or negative) from students. I have voiced this to students but it does not seem to matter.

I have informed students that we need to pick up the pace in math since it is second semester and we still have A LOT to cover in regards to seventh grade material before the end of the year.

Then I start thinking is it how it is being taught – problem based – with less direct instruction. I just feel like there is a lot of pressure to get through the entire seventh grade common core that I start second guessing myself and what I believe in. I know deep down that problem based instruction is the best form of instruction but it takes time! I have read the research on this (gone through a master’s program on this) and read many tweets and blogs about going away from direct instruction and moving towards problem based (student centered) instruction that I know what I am doing is moving in the right direction. It’s just that some days and weeks you just begin to wonder.

Well, enough venting it is time to move on and get ready for a new day, that will hopefully be better than the last three.

If you read this blog thanks for listening!



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About martinsarah

7th grade math teacher in Iowa

2 responses to “Bumps on a Log”

  1. @JustinAion says :

    This is very similar to what I’ve been experiencing to various degrees over the past few months. I started this year with amazing momentum and student interest and, while I don’t think my teaching style has changed, the level of indifference has increased drastically.

    I also have been stressing myself out about covering the proper amount of content, which I know will not happen with my new style. I have to keep reminding myself that my goal this year is problem solving, with content as a secondary focus.

    I don’t know how much help it is, but my advice is to figure out what you want your students to be able to do/know by the time they leave your class. Set your expectations by that and cover whatever you can.

    In my opinion, an inch deep and a mile wide is going to kill us in the long run.

  2. Mary Dooms says :

    I’m experiencing the same thing and there isn’t a magic bullet to treat the doldrums. Justin mentions problem solving over content. I would clarify that to include the math practices and process standards .

    I’m also beginning to ask myself, “Does it always need to be real world in order for it to be engaging?” When kids pick up a book to read it’s more likely to be fiction. Why can’t math have the same appeal?

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