Everything I do in class is geared toward building understanding. I want students to be able to both complete the task and understand _why_ they’re completing it. Learning is more than a collection of disconnected skills. Especially in chemistry, the more you see the interconnectedness, the easier it is to learn.
Today, I gave a quiz that went less then spectacularly. We’ve finished a chapter on periodic table organization and have moved into ionization and simple bonding. We’ve talked about valence electrons, how to find them, whether or not an atom is gaining or losing those electrons, and finally, how to find the ion charge. We also practiced it in a lab yesterday.
Today, we fell flat pretty quickly.
As we looked back over the last few days of work, I told them that before every quiz, I can usually accurately pick out who will do well and who won’t based on work leading up. It seemed to surprise them that yes, I do know when work is simply copied and handed in. To illustrate that it isn’t uncommon, I closed my eyes and asked everyone to silently raise their hand if they’d ever done that. (Of course, most hands were slapped back down on tables or knees…not so silently…)
I gave my students the GIGO example – if I don’t have accurate information, I cannot teach effectively. When I walk by and offer help, it isn’t random. But they have to choose to accept the offer.
I found, years ago, that posting answer keys around the room while they’re working significantly reduces the desire to just copy it down and turn it in. First off, because I usually won’t take the work up. Secondly, they know there’s no pressure on being perfect. I can still assess their learning (and they can easily _self assess_, which is more important anyways) and adjust as we go.
Lately, I haven’t posted keys. It could be laziness, forgetfulness, or a combination of any number of things.
The fact of the matter is I’m still fighting a resistant culture. We’re nearly there in some classes – a culture of learning as process, not as destination – but in others, we probably won’t make it this year.
I still have 17 school days until summer break, so we’ll keep the gas pedal down and see what happens.