My school division asked all the schools to participate in a 15-minute DEAR challenge. Our staff was tasked with picking the date, then the time. During our staff meeting, one of our English teachers asked if we could do it for 15 minutes in every class that day. It was met with a chorous of “Good idea!” I was one of the choristers, too. However, my initial thoughts were leaning toward “giving up 15 minutes one day won’t b
e that bad.”
The DEAR challenge day rolled around last Tuesday, so my students dropped everything and read for the first fifteen minutes of each class. Since my class was only 45 minutes long after, I had really only planned to get through about half of what I would normally. That’s were I was wrong. Tuesday was one of my best teaching days. Ever. I didn’t have any earth-shattering lessons (in fact, they were pretty mediocre), but my students were remarkably well-behaved, calm, and ready to be engaged. That 15-minute start up was phenomenal.
One of my biggest concerns when it comes to math is the students’ ability to read and understand word problems. I’m combating that with how I’m teaching, but I can’t really teach them to read, but I can give them time to practice.
I have yet to implement it, I have a packet ready to go for my Math 9 class. It’s a book I have on Great Mathematicians. It sounds really drab, but it’s written at an appropriate level for them. I took a Math History course last year, and it’s pretty much the same stuff we covered but in non-math-major-friendly format.
Here’s my plan: students walk in. The short sheet (bell work) will be on the board. Once they complete their short sheet, they will have the remainder of 10-15 minutes to read about math and how it is so cool. This will give the students who are a bit slower to g
et their work done time to catch up, while the speedy students can rip through the reading. I won’t assign a mark for the reading, so hopefully that will take some of the pressure off.
Any thoughts on the whole thing? I’m also thinking about alternating reading one day with basic math drill the next. Those two areas seem to be the most problematic when it comes to math skills. I’m searching for some guidance as to whether this will be worthwhile for my students.