It seems like I have been struggling to connect students to their math lessons lately.
We are working on percents/decimals/fractions. Specifically the past three days we have been working on percent of change. To say it has been frustrating is an understatement.
There are days which one would think that you were speaking in another language.
But not today! Today (day 3 of the same topic) English became the common language in math.
Today I used a cooperative learning strategy in which shoulder partners worked together to solve math problems. One partner "coached" the other partner to do the work. For example: If I were the coach I would say something like "the formula is original # - new #, divided by original # so write down 4.50 - 1 and put over 4.50. What is neat about this is that the student coaching is verbalizing how to solve the problem and the other partner has the ability to make corrections as needed. The kids were so engaged. Using this strategy increases engagement because of the interactivity between partners.
I think it also helped that I used ads for Velveeta and Diced tomatoes and connected it to preparing for a Super Bowl party!
After a couple problems the students seemed to get the concept. When we were done with this reteach it was time for the homework assignment. Since we were running a bit late and it was the beginning of a 3-day weekend the assignment was shortened. Yeah right? But what knocked my socks off was when one of the students without prompt figured out the percent of decrease in the math assignment! Hallelujah!
You never know when you are going to find a lesson or trick to make a connection with student. I hope to use cooperative learning in many forms throughout the semester. This day has proven that the effect can be worthwhile!