Monday, May 4, 2015

#flipclass Flash Blog: The Role of Struggle

Math students struggle. I tell my students that every single one of them will eventually encounter that math class that makes them take a step back and learn how to study and persevere. For me, it was high school Geometry.

For a large percentage of my 8th graders, it's Algebra 1. My flipped class.

Struggle is important. It's how you learn and grow as a student, as a mathematician. It's character-building.

But students don't care for it.

In my traditional Algebra 1 class, most of the struggle happened at home. After the lesson was taught in class. I heard from numerous students and parents about tears at the dinner table over algebra homework. I heard laments of how long an assignment took. I heard students say how confused they were and how much they didn't understand about the previous night's assignment when they came to class. But there was no time to process that struggle. Maybe 15 minutes to answer questions, and then it was time to move on to the next topic.

Flipping my classroom didn't take the struggle away. It just moved it to my classroom.

Where I am.

I get to be there as students struggle with the material. Answer questions. Ask more questions. Lead. Guide. Encourage. Quote growth mindset sayings. Assure students they are capable of learning difficult material.

And I get to be there when the breakthroughs happen. I get to listen as students notice patterns and learn how to explain their thinking. I get to hear them help and explain to each other. I get to cheer when they make connections and see what they can do.

All of this without tears.

I would like to get even better at teaching students to embrace the struggle. I have a couple of students who have resisted the struggle; they get angry when I don't just give answers. And sometimes I give answers too quickly. I need to get better at guiding then leaving students to struggle and figure even more out on their own.

Struggle is inevitable. But one of my favorite aspects of my flipped classroom is I now get to play a much larger role in helping students navigate the struggle and come out stronger math students on the other side.

What I want my students to realize

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