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  • Writer's pictureDeb Stetson

Math is a Social Activity

Do you believe it? Dig deep and be honest with yourself. What if I had said, "Learning is a social activity." Would you believe that? Think of an occasion when you learned something new. Did you tell someone? Did you learn it with someone, talking as you went? In the digital space, how are we creating moments for our students to talk, or to share ideas, or to consider someone else's idea, without talking? Where is the back and forth of student interaction. Let's face it, we were working hard to make that happen in the brick and mortar all together classroom too. In the last 4 professional learning session I have lead, I have heard 2 things.

  1. Gratitude for time in breakout rooms, because folks had time to discuss and clarify with each other. Breakout room time was the most valued part of the sessions.

  2. I heard stories of online instruction where breakout rooms are quiet, or that we fear students will be inappropriate, or the district doesn't let us use them. Or they cannot use them because of district rules.

So, interacting with others is working while WE are learning--we have to FIND A WAY to make it work for our students. Break-out rooms in Zoom can't be the only way. What about posting ideas and creating a structure for feedback for those ideas, so there could be some back and forth? is me brainstorming...

  1. Desmos offers students to see 3 other students responses, which is a start (or 3 more if they edit their response). We could take another step toward interaction by making the next screen prompt them to comment on one of those ideas. That would be a start--not a conversation yet, but a start.

  2. In Google slides each student could author thoughts about a strategy to use and post it. Then everyone shifts to the next slide and inserts a comment about the author's thoughts on that slide. Finally everyone could rotate back to their original slide and reply to the comment they received on their original post. This sounds like the virtual parallel of forming 2 lines at the the back of the room, having the lines turn and face each other, share ideas for 2 minutes, then one line shifts, and you meet someone else to have a conversation. One of you will figure a way to amend my idea to get more than one conversation going!

  3. Ask students to have a conversation with someone about a task, call a friend or a relative, or talk to someone in the household using them as a sounding board. Ask them to share with the person to ask them "How do you know that?"

  4. After a lesson, use the Optimistic Closure as part of an exit ticket- who is the first person you will tell about your learning today? What will you share with them? Then the next day, ask if they contacted that person, and to share how the conversation went, or how it would have gone.

  5. Chat buddies?

Thoughts? What ways have worked for you to get interaction?

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