As simple as putting a student at the board

We were reviewing today.  We spent 15 minutes brainstorming for topics we’ve studied this year.  Students called topics out and I wrote them on the board.

Wouldn’t it have been clever to have a student write them on the board?  I mean, why not?  Three students could have done five minutes each, or something.  I could have participated in the discussion just as much, but I would have imparted some power (and the complementary responsibility) to students so easily.

Once you start thinking about ways to give students more power/responsibility, you see them everywhere.  What have you done to change the balance of power in your classroom – either towards the students or towards the teacher?

6 thoughts on “As simple as putting a student at the board”

  1. Students check their own homework answers…either the same day or the next day when they walk in the classroom, depending on their preference and the amount of problems they finish during class. Once students are done checking their answers, they write the problems numbers they’re unsure about on the board. When there are a fair number of questions and it’s pretty obvious that we don’t have time to go over every single one (particularly on a review assignment), I put students into groups so that they can help each other out. It’s more of a captive audience, I don’t waste my time (or the majority of the students’ time) going over a concept that only one student needs help with, and students can still call me over to their group if they’re totally confused.

    It’s not perfect, but it often works much better than me acting as the sole source of knowledge and remediation in the room.

    1. I like giving students teaching responsibility too. Posters can be another way to effect this kind of responsibility: right now in our class are several posters about transforming graphs, and several basic types of graphs like hyperbolas, parabolas, cubics, etc. I didn’t check them for accuracy or clarity right away; rather, we use them as references in class, and the kids have been discovering their own ways to clarify the ideas (there are no inaccuracies (so far!)). I love referring to student work instead of a text book or my own (seemingly endless) knowledge bank.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. In the homework realm, I used to post answer keys to weekly homework on my bulletin board. Students who were willing to do homework in advance of the due date (even just a few hours in advance) could come in, show me they’d made a good faith effort, check their answers, and fix their mistakes before turning it in or ask for extra help. This is more on an individual rather than a class level, but many students used this strategy to take ownership over their homework, boost their homework grades, and increase their self-awareness/learn to ask for help rather than being shocked by simply getting a bad grade.

    1. That’s a good idea – I’ve never had it together enough to make answer keys to homework (on any timeline) and so have stuck to only assigning homework with answers available somewhere else already (e.g. the back of the book, wolfram alpha, etc).

      Empowering students to check their own results, and trusting them to use the answer resource in a way that is helpful to their understanding, is another easy way to give them experience with responsibility! I like how you put it a lot. How can we expect them to take ownership of something unless we give them the tools they need to control it?

  3. This year I have students answer all warm-up or homework questions, then if anyone didn’t understand it (or disagreed with the answer), whoever gave the original answer has to field the class’s questions. They have to ask if anyone has a question, choose who to answer, and all the normal things a teacher would do. I just kind of stand around and ask questions as needed.

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