Experience Before Education

Cathy Seely, in a recent Educational Leadership article, wrote about teaching math. She suggests reversing the traditional I-We-You gradual release format. And, instead, use a You-We-I process. Providing the students with a problem to solve without requiring them to use a specific method. She uses the phrase “struggling on purpose”. Having done this myself, I found the exploration process revealed misunderstandings, provided validation that there are often times multiple-paths to a common outcome, and promoted collaboration among students.

After students explore potential solutions, the teacher leads a conversation about the attempts and outcomes. Then, the teacher presents a “standard” method of solving. The wore “standard” is deliberately used in place of “right” or “correct”. Students can then compare and contrast their attempted method to the “standard” way. Doing so can help affirm their own thinking, abilities, and belief in calculated risk-taking.

For your next lesson, consider providing the students with the opportunity to discover solutions, then provide them with a formal one.

Put experience before education.

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