Multiple choice. A student looks at the graph on his calculator and concludes the minimum is at x= “a little past negative 8”, so he chooses (C) -8 because “it’s the closest one so it’s the best answer.” General consensus among the vocal. They wait for me to move us on to the next thing, I wait for them to tell me they’re done.
Some whispering. One or two students have noticed choice (D) -25/3. Three students turn to me separately and mouth, “Isn’t it D?” I deadpan. A minute goes by. Three minutes go by. Finally, my quietest student makes a noise I can’t make out. The student at the board hears her and repeats out loud, “Is it D?” Now they all know they’re done.
- What am I going to do next year to build number sense?
- What am I going to do with my underclassmen this year to build number sense?
- Most importantly, all year I’ve been deliberately emphasizing the importance of putting ideas and objections out for the group, but somehow I must be unknowingly communicating something different, because they are still afraid to do that.
That last may be too harsh. I think they feel safer questioning each other on the calculus than on fractions – if you reveal yourself as confused on calculus, hey join the club, but if you’re confused on fractions, that’s embarrassing. Hmm.
One more note – as I moved us on to the next thing, I definitely articulated my impatience, not with their not recognizing -25/3, but that three people had a different idea and didn’t put it out there. I wonder if showing my frustration when they don’t take a risk is the best way to encourage them to take a risk. I suspect not.