Thursday, December 08, 2005


I had 8 juniors in my Trig class on Wednesday because all the seniors were gone. One of the juniors came to the board and was doing problems for the rest of them. They were very active in the discussion and stopped many times to ask questions. I asked why they do not participate like that in class normally. The response was that the class size is to big and they do not feel comfortable asking as many questions in the small group. I asked if it would help if they were in small groups and they responded that they like having me explain things to them. I saw in that class that they were willing to ask questions and participate but I was not able to figure out from the students what would allow they to react like that every day.


Blogger Karl Fisch said...

Maybe there's a way you can still present some information to the entire class, but then break into small groups more often? Elementary teachers have been doing that for years, maybe there's a way to adapt it for a Trig class.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Barbara S. said...

James, did you notice how many more teachers participated in our discussion on Tuesday when we broke into smaller groups? But then I liked it when we came back together and shared our thoughts. Sometimes in calculus I will give my class a worksheet to do in small groups and then, at the end of class, we all get together to share what they have discovered.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Crosby said...

I think that using groups sometimes is great, particularly because it allows the students to bounce ideas off of each other.

I often think about ideal class sizes. I have been lucky the past couple of years to teach freshman honors classes first semester, which are usually somewhere between 17 and 25 students in size. I think that the ideal size is approximately 20. I like this size for two reasons. Number one, most days we circle up and all face each other. This has really helped with the flow of class discussions and no one can hide because we're all looking at each other. If I have any more than 25 students in a room, it really is not possible to create one circle.

The other reason that I think that 20 is about the ideal class size is that each student has the opportunity to contribute at least twice during each class period. Also, if some students are absent, we are at 17 which still meets a critical mass.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if class sizes were small enough that we could actually give individual attention to each student? In classes of 36 that just does not seem possible.

9:59 PM  
Blogger annes said...

What a powerful observation and I bet you are glad that they were honest with you regarding their participation. I agree with Karl (scary) and think you should do a bog class thing at first but then split into smaller groups once the information has been presented. It could even be a competition!

7:42 PM  

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