Day 18: The One With “Go Back to Your Seat”

As part of our unit project (graphing cost, revenue and profit for different number of items), we spent Thursday learning about cost, revenue and profit. This is much condensed from the last time this project was taught 2 years ago (when it spanned about 3 months).

We learned about cost, revenue and profit through a reading guide. Teachers at our school write reading guides as scaffolded mini-articles where students read a passage together, then complete certain tasks after reading. This plays nicely into our focus on supporting reading this year. Usually, the tasks involve language functions like making predictions and inferences, but since our class is a math class, we usually do math tasks (calculate profit, calculate revenue, etc).

Photo: “We are working. Go (back) to your group.”
We are working. Go to your team

Reading guides can be tricky. Students are supposed to read and stay with their groups. One of my classes is particularly antsy and there were students who were constantly getting up and asking friends at other tables how to solve problems. While I admire their commitment to finishing a task, one of my groupwork goals is for students to learn to work and talk with their group (rather than just their friends).

Intervention #1: I taught groups that were often visited by wanderers how to say “We are working. Go (back) to your group.” (I was slightly flustered and forgot to add the word “back” when I wrote it on the board). I like this phrase. It emphasizes that the group is working. It emphasizes the behavior the wayward student should do. It isn’t quite as prickly as “go away” (which one of the kiddos constantly yells at other students. Sigh). It helps students who are doing the right thing actively redirect their peers in a more positive way. We’ll see if it works.

Intervention #2: During the reading guide, I did a participation quiz, meaning that students earn points based on positive groupwork behaviors (reading in English, working together in the middle of the table, leaning in) and lose points if they leave their group or are not working. With 10 minutes to go (and realizing that many students were wandering), I showed groups the scores they were currently earning (and actually took points away from one group while they talked over me). I then crossed out the scores they were earning and told them they could raise their scores by following the positive group behaviors we had talked about earlier. To my surprise, students stayed in their seats for the rest of the period.

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