I was teaching the same lesson 4 period in a row with a colleague in her classroom. The point was supposed to be to demonstrate how to run a lesson on Desmos, and I had wrongly assumed that because the students had been taught something 2 days prior, they actually fully understood and could use those skills. Immediately I could tell that was not the case, and they were going to get stuck right away if they didn’t know that previous learning.
In the first period i decided to direct instruct the material, because that seemed fastest and I wanted to get to the fun stuff. After 20 minutes I had said all the stuff i needed to say, but the glazed eyes i was looking at made me wonder if I had accomplished anything.
The next period, I decided to handle the pre-teach with a Stand and Talk. Since we were on the fly, we did not orchestrate who they paired with. (Topic doesn’t matter. For this class it was high school trig and using the unit circle. Look past that and think how it could apply in your room.) We quickly wrote 3 pairs of short questions.
“Everyone grab your unit circle and stand up. Find a partner not from your group.Person with birthday closer to start of year is partner A, other partner B.”(1 minute)
“Partner A, show your partner how the unit circle helps you find the sine of pi/3.”
One student told me he had been absent. I told them to switch so he could go second. He didn’t have a unit circle. I gave him my copy that was filled out.
In this first round, we told them the correct answer and then had them talk again about how to adjust their thinking if they had missed it. (2-3 min this first round for partner A).
“Partner B, tell your partner how to use the unit circle to find the cosine of pi/4.” Students had never been trained in this routine and were pretty cool/apathetic juniors and seniors. But by this time the class was acting pretty collaborative. Groups where neither student understood were being helped by other groups. We also had the luxury of two teachers circulating and listening to conversations. When we told them this second answer there was a small cheer.(1.5 minutes)
We did two more rounds of partners, upping the difficulty or bringing up something slightly different with each round.
“Person with longest hair is partner A”
“Person whose first name is first alphabetically is Partner A”
Round 2 and 3 took about 2 minutes each in total. By round 3 the student who had been absent was explaining to one of the RSP students how to do it, and by the end they both understood.
I looked at the clock. Just under 10 minutes. Everyone was alert and back to their seats. Everyone was awake. There was energy in the room. And EVERY SINGLE STUDENT was ready to apply the prerequisite skill.
Sometimes I just need to be quiet and let the kids talk.
Here is a link to Sara Vanderwerf’s original post on Stand and Talks. Enjoy the read!
And here is one of my favorite ignites by Graham Fletcher, The Less I Talk, The More I’m Listened To.