Now she breaks us up into teams for whiteboard practice of topics for the test tomorrow.  ”2s or 3s,” she calls out, and when the kids say threes, she says “OK, but make sure that third person doesn’t slack off– I want everyone involved. ”  Important: Marzano says research does support cooperative, team learning, but group size is critical, and has to stay small. Whiteboards emerge from against the walls, large ones, and are set down on lab tables for student groups– to my surprise (and delight), these groups are working standing, not sitting.  I know not every classroom necessarily can accommodate this, standing, but it is good for kids and learning I think, gets more blood going, gets more movement in the kids, much better than just sitting. Sleepiness quickly dissipates as students work on these problems.  One groups works sitting down, and that is Ok, giving kids the choice, but I am glad that most are standing, and I wouldn’t want the choice available if they all chose to sit.m competition, in class and learning.   It is this epiphany from the brain research– a little stress is a good thing for learning, it motivates teams and gives them a goal to strive for, and sets them going. Sometimes progressives in the vein of Kohn bash competition, but it is all a matter of degree, and I really think it works in the rooms I observe.I think every class should start like this– kids come in, form up teams right away, and spend the first twenty minutes tackling problems, standing up, working in small teams, competing.   It whets their appetite, and then when the teacher says let’s learn a new technique for what you were working on, won’t students be that much more interested and engaged– this is news they can use for their competitions.   I just really like this– the kids are doing the work of learning here, they are teaching each others, they are working under very light, effective stress.  She is offering one point extra credit per correct answer per team.  Everyone who has a right answer within a time limit– I am increasingly aware how much I like a little gentle competition, especially tea

Sitting now with my host, “Emily,” and her group.   They have found one answer to the question, but the teacher comes over to tell them she wants all the possible answers.   M: “I don’t understand how there could be more than two answers to this?”   It is a great question and it asked, one-to-one, to the teacher, and the thinking happening here is so rich.   Our teacher doesn’t answer entirely, she draws a diagram, and then says I want you to think about it before leaving for the next group.

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