Sometimes we teachers just get in the way of learning. Unfortunately it is very easy to fall into the trap that we have to grade everything that we give our students to do and this really is not the best way for our kids to learn. If you allow the kids to try and work through the problems on their own and then let them peer tutor themselves, there is a better chance that they will actually learn the concept.
Case in point…
Earlier this week I gave my students a worksheet that consisted of sample word-math problems relating to various Physics formulas. This is information that we have been going over for the last couple of weeks and it was simply putting math to the concepts. My instructions were for them to do as many of the problems that they could on their own and if they get stuck, try their hardest to work through it. After 20-minutes I then told them that IF they absolutely could not do anything more on their own, they then could pull out their notes and the book to see if that helped. I gave them another 10-minutes to have them try and figured out the problem with additional resources and then I told them that IF they were still blocked on some problems then they could get help from ONE other person. I then had the answers taped to the back counter so they could check to make sure they got it right.
The key to this was that I emphasized over and over again:
“This is not for a grade! Simply copying an answer from somebody will not help you at all so LEARN from your friends, do not COPY from them.”
Two days later I gave an actual assessment on the material and the results were incredible! The comprehension was much higher than in the past where I was just doing “drill and kill” graded assignments. Once I took the pressure off the kids about not worrying about getting the right answer compared to learning the process, they learned the information much quicker.
Sometimes teachers just get in the way of learning…