A Good Problem to Have

By: Mary Kienstra on: September 11, 2014  in: Collaboration, Engagement, enthusiasm, Kakooma, Math

The biggest problem I have this year with my math students is that they are over-enthusiastic about math.  I prefer to call it that instead of “talkative”.  I joke that their enthusiasm is a good problem to have.

This group of students LOVES math. They truly are excited and enthusiastic about everything we are doing.  Who gets excited about long division?  These kids really do!

With the personality of these groups in mind, I know I have to nurture this excitement and provide opportunities for them to maintain that enthusiasm. Asking them to sit quietly while I lecture is not my style anyway, but it would never be an effective teaching method with this group.  They are active learners, needing to collaborate and discuss their learning.

My plans this year include group work and lots of it.  I know they thrive on the social aspects of math – working together to solve problems, helping each other with challenges, and generally discussing math.  Collaboration gives them the opportunity to talk about the math they learning.  Collaboration and discussion lead to fantastic student engagement.

I also want to add a bit of competition – in a good way, of course.  They love to “win” and will work very hard for bragging rights.  (There are few “real” prizes for winning anything in my class.)  With that in mind, today they worked in groups to complete a set of division problems.  Although I never mentioned a prize for finishing first, each group was intent on “winning” and worked so well together, supporting their teammates, and checking each other’s work.  Isn’t that the definition of student engagement?  

Kakooma Challenge will continue to be part of our Friday routine.  See my post about that bit of math craziness from the www.gregtangmath.com site.  This lesson defines student engagement in my class.  

While some might see this group as being too talkative and active, I notice their enthusiasm for learning.  I hope they can maintain this level of excitement and engagement all year as they work together and learn math.  After all, it’s a good problem to have!


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