The MEGnitude of Change

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 30 2012


My kids need to learn how to think.

Yesterday, my kids took their quarter one benchmark tests. Yes, it was the day after a two-week fall break, and yes, they were tired & frustrated to have to take the test. I was, too. But I refuse to accept those excuses as to why they did not do well. The truth? They were being asked to combine ideas in ways that we hadn’t explored in class. They struggled with how to read a problem to decipher its meaning, or to access problems that require multiple steps.

A few kids stayed past their class period, determined to give each question a fair shot & not give up. While I admire their grit & dedication, I was also heartbroken by their actions. The fact of the matter was this: they didn’t know how to access the questions. No matter how long they stared at the screen, they didn’t know how to begin to answer the problems.

I don’t feel like I prepared them adequately to succeed on that benchmark. Why? Because I had been focusing on content, rather than the thought patterns that lead them to interpret & apply the content.

To be frank, I’m feeling incredibly uncertain. How do I move forward? What do my students really need to succeed — what types of thinking skills, and how do I give them the right problems & ask them the right questions to get them there?

We — my students and I — need to work smarter, not just work harder. We all need to take a minute to think.

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My journey in mathematics and beyond

High School

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