Every unit that my students study, I print out a note packet for them to follow and fill out. I have found that this helps them with homework and studying for the unit test. Since I decided to spend a week creating a paperless classroom, the notes on paper just wouldn't do. When the students arrived to class, I had them all grab a dry-erase marker and clear everything off their desks. The concept for the day was
Multiplying Polynomials. I started with a brief review over the past couple lessons: Multiply exponents and combining like terms. After we had discussed these concepts for a few minutes, I wrote an example on the board. I had the students put their markers down and just watch and listen. I wanted their complete attention. After I solved the problem, step-by-step, I wrote another example on the board and told them to solve it on their desk. They all looked at me like I was crazy and I actually had a couple students say they always get in trouble when they write on their desk. I told them that after we finished with the lesson, we would wipe down the desks and no one would ever know what we had done. I don't have any other teachers in my department that would have students write on their desks. Most of the students that I am teaching this semester came from different teachers. I only have a handful of students back from last semester due to schedule changes. We continued to work out problems on the desks and I noticed that some students were reaching for their phones and taking pictures. I asked them what they were doing and was told that they needed some way to keep their notes. I thought it was great that they took the initiative to record their work for the day even though I wasn't requiring it.
At the end of class, I asked the students if they enjoyed doing their notes like this and they said that they liked it better then regular pencil and paper. This amazed me so I had to dig a little deeper and find out why. Here were some of their remarks:
- I really liked doing notes on our desk because I felt like I had time to pay attention and then work out the problem.
- I like being able to write on desks. I think I learned more without having to take notes. I wasn't worried about writing everything down and could listen better.
- I want to do this everyday!
- If we did this for notes, how would we be able to get help at home on our homework without a note packet? (comment from one of my ESL students)
I loved that the students gave me so much feedback about taking notes on the desks. I didn't have a single student gripe or complain about what we were doing. I'm not going to lie, I was really surprised. Since when did teenagers not have something negative to say about math? I will be trying to think of how to incorporate this method of note taking again.
Hope you try this with your class!
It's interesting that a student actually was concerned about being able to reference the notes during homework time! It feels good to know that there are still some students who care about their grades and school work.
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