I love speed dating.
With students, of course. The type of speed dating that serves to reinforce, promote peer tutoring, and review.
But I always found the initial assigning of problems to be tricky and inefficient. Desks would be set up facing each other. I give kids handouts on their way into the class that have the practice problems on them. I would then walk around and assign each student a specific problem from the handout. I always did this strategically; I would assign higher level questions to higher level students. This way, the higher level concepts would get facilitated effectively to other students who may not initially understand those concepts. Because they needed to wait for me to “give” them their question, this caused some off-task, downtime for the kids…which was not good. They would also spend less time speed dating (and doing math) because they were dependent on me at the beginning. Bottom line: I wasted a bunch of class time assigning questions.
Today, I tried another technique and I liked it. I placed numbers on the desks and wrote numbers on the handouts. I gave the students the handouts as they entered (randomly), and instead of wading around assigning questions to students, the kids just sat at a desk whose number matched the number on their handout. And that number was their assigned question they needed to master. They didn’t need me to assign them a problem because they already had one. Here are the desks with the numbers.
The result: a much more fluid, efficient start to the activity. The students came in and knew exactly where to sit and which question they were responsible for. They ultimately spent more time working on math – which is the whole point.
I randomly assigned the questions as they walked in – so I got away from assigning higher level questions to certain students. It was fine. I just walked around and helped students with their problems – which I would have done anyway. Even if I wanted a specific student (or students) to be in charge of a specific problem, I could simply ensure that I gave them the number of that problem when they walked into the room. I would only need to do this for one or two questions, so it wouldn’t be terribly difficult. It is a lot better than students sitting around while I manually assign problems at the beginning of class.
@_b_p I wonder if you color coded the stickies to difficulty if kids would self-select appropriately?
— Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) March 17, 2015