Today in class, I observed something that could do nothing but bring a smile to my face. Currently in grade 8 math we are studying surface area of prisms and cylinders. I have taught this unit through inquiry, allowing students to engage in a lot of exploration while I facilitate their learning experience. Each student received 2D shapes on grid paper and were asked to determine a formula to calculate the area (using the known area from counting squares to compare to their calculated area using their formula). Once they were proficient in 2D shapes we moved on to rectangular and triangular prisms and cylinders. Again, I used the same strategy and gave them nets on grid paper and asked them to devise a formula that would work to calculate the area of these 3D objects.
Throughout the unit there has been a huge amount of collaboration between students and it’s been awesome to witness as a teacher. That said, there are of course students who struggle with the concept and I meet with them at our back table and work with them individually. The class has a diverse set of learners, and each is extremely willing to support one another to ensure that as a whole they understand the concepts. Often times there are stronger students working with those that are struggling, coaching them and not giving them the answers.
Today, one of the stronger students was struggling with calculating the surface area of a triangular prism and a girl who usually struggles, and coincidently is usually mentored by this struggling boy, was whizzing through the content. Today the mentee became the mentor, and vice versa. It was amazing to see how seamlessly the roles reversed and to listen to the dialogue between the two students. This was an extremely proud moment for me as a teacher, not because I had anything to do with it, but to see one of my struggling ELL learners take ownership of not only her own learning, but one of her peers. It really speaks to the environment in the classroom, where all learners feel safe to celebrate their success, admit when they are lost and help pick one another up when they are down.
Until next time,