Learning from Peter – Part 2 of 5

Peter Liljedahl recommends several actions teachers can take in order to develop a classroom atmosphere that fosters conceptual understanding. I would like to highlight three things that will keep students thinking and will have a positive impact on student learning right away. When teachers try these three strategies he says they won’t go back:

1. RANDOM GROUPS

Use random groups every day, sometimes several times in a long class period. Every learner is taken out of his/her comfort zone and levels the ‘learning’ playing field. This allows for more authentic group collaboration, especially when students know that they will constantly be changing groups. Here are some of his suggestions:

a) Use random groups. Don’t try to create homogeneous or heterogenous groups. Don’t put students together according to ability, student interest or student choice. He uses playing cards and hands them out as students come into class. They create groups according to the number on the playing card.

b) Consider optimal group size. Five students is too many & two is too few. Three or four students per group is ideal.

c) Don’t assign specific roles. He doesn’t give students roles such as time keeper, summarizer, note taker, and encourager. Teachers should focus on creating authentic group work and  let the roles become self-defined. You can discuss the roles afterwards.

d) Allow students to talk to each other and share information across groups. He encourages students to ‘borrow’ ideas from other groups. This allows for the knowledge to be shared around the classroom and creates a community of learners.

2. NON-PERMANENT WORK SURFACES

When students are learning, let them work in ways that are not permanent. Using dry erase markers on small whiteboards, student desks, and even windows will work. It seems that learners will take more risks when there isn’t a trail of mistakes. Non-permanent work is quick to change and allows students to try different strategies easily.

3. VERTICAL LEARNING

Get learners up and working collaboratively with their classmates. When students sit at their desks they can hide and ‘fake’ doing math work. Brain research also indicates that we learn better when we move around.

Working vertically is also beneficial for teachers. It is easy for a teacher to formatively assess students by observing the way they approach problems, persevere, and generally see how everyone is doing. If needed, a teacher can encourage a group to go for a walk and ‘borrow’ ideas from other groups or offer extension questions.

You can read my other posts about ‘Learning from Peter’ here: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Advertisements

About ccampbel14

I am a junior high math teacher at an Edmonton K-9 school. I am always looking for innovative and creative ways to teach mathematics so that I can reach every learner so they can be as successful as they possibly can be.
This entry was posted in Math and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Learning from Peter – Part 2 of 5

  1. Pingback: 1. Funky, Fab and Fantastic. Yeah! That’s Middle School Maths | Mathspig Blog

  2. Nicole says:

    Hi admin do you need unlimited articles for your site ?
    What if you could copy article from other websites, make it unique and publish on your blog – i know the right tool for you, just
    search in google:
    Ziakdra’s article tool

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s