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Experiences in Math Instruction and Gender

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    minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    I honestly don't know.
    What killed me the most was that she is a woman. Telling a young woman that she doesn't look like a math major. Kudos, lady.

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    Space PickleSpace Pickle Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    2. Don't freaking seat your students in "math groups." Because of institutionalized sexism, this ends up with more girls on the bottom and boys at the top, visually reinforcing the idea that girls are bad at math.

    I want to ask exactly what you mean by this. When I was in high school, my best experiences were in classes where students were seated in groups and allowed time to basically work through the homework together. Kids who didn't understand could first ask a classmate to help them, which usually helped the struggling kid to understand and the kid who knew to reinforce that they understood it (if you can teach a thing, you know the thing).

    My inclination is to replicate that kind of thing (though I'd probably rotate the groups on a fairly regular basis) and the stuff I'm reading that wants teachers to build a community among their students seems to reinforce that inclination, so I'm curious to know the kinds of things you mean by "math groups."

    Hello, I am a Canadian elementary school teacher. The statement "don't freaking seat your students in 'math groups'" is wrong and not supported by current pedagogy and best practices for teaching.

    Anyway good luck to you, enlightenedbum. Have you taught already or do you need to do the masters first before you get in the classroom and start practice teaching? Also if you're going to be a math teacher you should check out this guy's blog: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/

    Space Pickle on
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    KiplingKipling Registered User regular
    Take the gender-career test and the gender-science test: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

    The other ones are interesting as well, if you have the time.

    The cardinal rule that you should take away from everything here is to never discourage anyone who makes progress, no matter how slow they take.

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    CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    minirhyder wrote: »
    I honestly don't know.
    What killed me the most was that she is a woman. Telling a young woman that she doesn't look like a math major. Kudos, lady.

    Ah yes, the good old "women in 'smart' professions & women who have 'nerdy' interests all look a certain way" bias.

    It's why people go, "...Really?" when I tell them where I went to school. And why they then go "Oh!" when I add I majored in Art History.

    *Gag*

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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Hello, I am a Canadian elementary school teacher. The statement "don't freaking seat your students in 'math groups'" is wrong and not supported by current pedagogy and best practices for teaching.

    according to...?

    edit: this is a more recent article, the full text is free, and it's a bit more relevant to in-class ability grouping
    Numerous studies on the impact of different ability grouping practices have shown that when schools abandon ability grouping practice and move to mixed or heterogeneous grouping, achievement and participation improves significantly.


    bsjezz on
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    EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    bsjezz wrote: »
    Hello, I am a Canadian elementary school teacher. The statement "don't freaking seat your students in 'math groups'" is wrong and not supported by current pedagogy and best practices for teaching.

    according to...?

    edit: this is a more recent article, the full text is free, and it's a bit more relevant to in-class ability grouping
    Numerous studies on the impact of different ability grouping practices have shown that when schools abandon ability grouping practice and move to mixed or heterogeneous grouping, achievement and participation improves significantly.

    Yeah, there is a lot of data at all educational levels that shows grouping students by ability does more good than harm as they can socially learn better. It's one of the reasons that diagnostic tests are starting to shift down from just 4-year college institutions to High Schools and Junior High to ensure students are in groups and material equal to their competency level.

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    DraygoDraygo Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    bsjezz wrote: »
    Hello, I am a Canadian elementary school teacher. The statement "don't freaking seat your students in 'math groups'" is wrong and not supported by current pedagogy and best practices for teaching.

    according to...?

    edit: this is a more recent article, the full text is free, and it's a bit more relevant to in-class ability grouping
    Numerous studies on the impact of different ability grouping practices have shown that when schools abandon ability grouping practice and move to mixed or heterogeneous grouping, achievement and participation improves significantly.


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but those articles seem to be talking about grouping students across classes by ability. it is not at all talking about creating groups for students to study by grouping higher achieving students with some struggling students.

    Ability grouping, that is, grouping all the higher achieving students into one class while putting the lower achieving students in a different class sure does have a negative effect on the lower achieving students. But as a teacher, I don't think this is something under his control.

    I do think that grouping students together within a class for some exercises is a net benefit, as the stronger students can tutor the struggling ones. Which the studies seem to agree with.

    Draygo on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Draygo wrote: »
    I do think that grouping students together within a class for some exercises is a net benefit, as the stronger students can tutor the struggling ones. Which the studies seem to agree with.

    the second article i linked has a bit more content on in-class groups. and of course, i'm not saying you don't do groupwork in class - just that heterogeneous grouping is fairer, has better outcomes, and this is backed up by the literarure

    bsjezz on
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    JuliusJulius Captain of Serenity on my shipRegistered User regular
    edited June 2015
    bsjezz wrote: »
    Draygo wrote: »
    I do think that grouping students together within a class for some exercises is a net benefit, as the stronger students can tutor the struggling ones. Which the studies seem to agree with.

    the second article i linked has a bit more content on in-class groups. and of course, i'm not saying you don't do groupwork in class - just that heterogeneous grouping is fairer, has better outcomes, and this is backed up by the literarure

    I thought that was what bum was talking about. Grouping stronger students with weaker students so they teach each other. It's the concept I'm familiar with from Montessori education. (Where students from different grades are seated together.)

    Grouping the stronger students with each other and the weaker students with each other seems massively unfair on the face of it. Is that actually a thing?

    Julius on
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    enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    Yeah, that was basically my plan. Start random (or random + adjusted for diversity if I have that data before I meet any of them), as I assess kids, try to group together diverse (in terms of achievement and demographically, if possible) subsets and switch those up regularly.

    Self-righteousness is incompatible with coalition building.
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    CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    One thing you might want to look for- kids with attention problems are extremely susceptible to distraction, and even at a high school level other students tend to take advantage of them. Basically, encouraging the distractible kid to get off task, shout things out, or generally act "wild." The victim winds up looking like a class clown/idiot, while the perpetrator appears to be a close friend of the victim. (Also, I could be wrong here, but I also noticed that typically the victim is a little smarter or more creative than the perpetrator, but has a hard time expressing that. So the perpetrator looks smarter, and better behaved.)

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    CambiataCambiata Commander Shepard The likes of which even GAWD has never seenRegistered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    bsjezz wrote: »
    Draygo wrote: »
    I do think that grouping students together within a class for some exercises is a net benefit, as the stronger students can tutor the struggling ones. Which the studies seem to agree with.

    the second article i linked has a bit more content on in-class groups. and of course, i'm not saying you don't do groupwork in class - just that heterogeneous grouping is fairer, has better outcomes, and this is backed up by the literarure

    I thought that was what bum was talking about. Grouping stronger students with weaker students so they teach each other. It's the concept I'm familiar with from Montessori education. (Where students from different grades are seated together.)

    Grouping the stronger students with each other and the weaker students with each other seems massively unfair on the face of it. Is that actually a thing?

    I dunno, man. Every experience I ever had with group study ended up me doing all the work, while the "struggling" students chatted about other things.

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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator Mod Emeritus
    edited June 2015
    All my experiences with group study were the kids who were good at it racing to finish and telling the others to just copy it so they could mess around the rest of the time.

    Then, since the burden of teaching is placed on those students by the teacher, the teacher tells you to ask one of those kids when you have a problem. That kid doesn't feel like it, and why should they, they aren't the teacher. So you say to the teacher "I tried that" and either the teacher shrugs and says "well ask again" which fails, or says something to the group and they all get mad at you and are even less inclined to help out in any meaningful fashion.

    So in short, fuck group study in math classes.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Yup that was my experience too, sort of a mix between you both.

    The kids who didn't want to do it didn't do it and just copied off me. You've got a mix of both lazy and kids who struggle in the group. Lazy will just copy, but the kids who struggle will keep asking questions. Which is great, but kids are not great teachers in general, and often get frustrated really quick, especially when their own academic marks are on the line. So obviously everyone just copies off the kids who are good at the subject.

    There's a reason why teachers go to school for so long and we don't just have smart kids teach classes.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    Need better supervision then. I'd also be less formal about it.

    Self-righteousness is incompatible with coalition building.
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    EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    At the University level we have two different systems that work with both of these ideas:
    • Supplemental Instruction: This is the mixed group study idea, and is entirely voluntary and out-of-classroom. Typically some students (2-4) that completed a tough course like Calculus or Organic Chemistry with A (4.0) grades lead group Q&A sessions that are monitored by a faculty member who also teaches the course, with the goal of sharing study skills and things to watch out for more than re-teaching the course content. We've seen a goodly bit of success in this as it is essentially peer-mentoring by upperclassmen that are pre-vetted for knowing what they are talking about and get some training on what to say and what to leave to the teacher.
    • Group Learning: This is always done by sorting students based upon skill level and usually is done in classroom. The idea here is to put students of equal levels of skill in groups of 3-5 and have equal teacher and ta observation and discussion of the topics. A ton of recent studies have shown that pairing students with their peers on the same topics cause the lowest to catch up faster and have better long term outcomes than mixing students who are struggling with those who are doing well. Meanwhile, the students doing well and who are more advanced are given assignments that are also pushing their understanding of the concepts and reinforcing the same material, rather than moving on in the course. Everyone is still grappling with the same topics, but the degree of difficulty of these topics are matched to their current level to ensure all students are able to get through the core material and also remain engaged in the course.
    • Assessment-Based Placement: -should also be noted, as our math curriculum rarely has a wide divergence in skill level per course as students are first required to take a placement test (regardless of previous skill or completed coursework) to indicate at what level of ~our~ coursework they will be successful. These assessments allow students with no college credit to advance to higher level courses as their skill allows, but only serve as a warning for students with higher level coursework that do not perform well on the assessment (usually we strongly suggest they take a lower level course that they place into, or if they do not want to do that ensure they get set up for tutoring immediately at the beginning of the semester).

    Having advanced students teach weaker students works in some contexts, but as Bowen and Ceres said typically it leads to resentment on both sides as the advanced student feels burdened to do work they shouldn't have to while the less advanced student feels clumsy and slow in comparison. Putting students together with challenges that allow them to work collaboratively have shown strong cognitive-based educational outcomes.

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    JuliusJulius Captain of Serenity on my shipRegistered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    All my experiences with group study were the kids who were good at it racing to finish and telling the others to just copy it so they could mess around the rest of the time.

    Then, since the burden of teaching is placed on those students by the teacher, the teacher tells you to ask one of those kids when you have a problem. That kid doesn't feel like it, and why should they, they aren't the teacher. So you say to the teacher "I tried that" and either the teacher shrugs and says "well ask again" which fails, or says something to the group and they all get mad at you and are even less inclined to help out in any meaningful fashion.

    So in short, fuck group study in math classes.

    To be honest I don't think the idea works with teenagers, as they are likely to find the easiest way out like that.

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    CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    All my experiences with group study were the kids who were good at it racing to finish and telling the others to just copy it so they could mess around the rest of the time.

    Then, since the burden of teaching is placed on those students by the teacher, the teacher tells you to ask one of those kids when you have a problem. That kid doesn't feel like it, and why should they, they aren't the teacher. So you say to the teacher "I tried that" and either the teacher shrugs and says "well ask again" which fails, or says something to the group and they all get mad at you and are even less inclined to help out in any meaningful fashion.

    So in short, fuck group study in math classes.

    To be honest I don't think the idea works with teenagers, as they are likely to find the easiest way out like that.

    I disagree. Now, it's true that the vast majority of the time my classmates/group just wanted to cheat off of me. (It was like, 95% of the time.)

    But occasionally there were kids who really did just need some help. Like, I had group assignments where three out of the four other members wanted to cheat off of me, but the fourth partner just asked me how she should format her part of the presentation and then asked me to edit her work. And when my friends had a class with me, they'd ask me to edit their stuff sometimes, or explain something again. Although that was never done under the context of "group" learning, because we rarely had group projects assigned.

    And I'm pretty sure that everybody I helped had experienced the same situation as @ceres because they were so apologetic whenever they asked for help, and abnormally grateful whenever they got it. It was like they were used to being brushed off all the time. Also, if I was too busy with my own stuff (like I was doing homework during lunch and couldn't check somebody's chem answers,) they understood and were nice about it. Group members who just want the answers act like they're entitled to them, and get pissed off when you say no.

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    EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    What it comes down to is the fact that students are not educators. They can be peers, co-learners, possibly even mentors but they are not trained nor should they have liability for the success of other students. Group study, in a general in-classroom fashion, placed both the burden and expectation upon advanced students to play teacher without the training to know what is and isn't appropriate in that power dynamic. Similarly, that power dynamic can be abused (easily) by both parties. It's a bad educational model.

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    Space PickleSpace Pickle Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    bsjezz wrote: »
    Hello, I am a Canadian elementary school teacher. The statement "don't freaking seat your students in 'math groups'" is wrong and not supported by current pedagogy and best practices for teaching.

    according to...?

    edit: this is a more recent article, the full text is free, and it's a bit more relevant to in-class ability grouping
    Numerous studies on the impact of different ability grouping practices have shown that when schools abandon ability grouping practice and move to mixed or heterogeneous grouping, achievement and participation improves significantly.


    The Australian article doesn't mean what you think it means - it's referring to putting kids into low and high math classes, not in-class groups. The British article seems to be the same, although I have not had time to read it yet.

    Off the top of my head, 2 good reasons to group students by ability within the classroom: 1) it is very difficult to program instruction for a small group of vastly different levels, and 2) generally, in a group with a high student and a low student the high student will do all the work. This doesn't mean that students never move groups. Ongoing assessment determines how well students are learning at any given time (this is called "formative" assessment, or sometimes assessment "as learning"), and groupings are adjusted as the year goes on.

    enlightenedbum, how does you program of teacher education work? Have you not gotten into the classroom for your practice teaching yet?

    edit - Yes, the Boaler paper is about teaching with a "growth mindset", which is only tangentially related to student ability grouping.

    Space Pickle on
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    enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    I mean, we started literally this week. We have orientation at a middle school next month for a summer camp. Then we're there all of July, basically. Get placed in the fall for Tuesday/Thursdays, then 3 half days and two full in the winter, and full time in the spring. Then I'll be done with a Master's.

    Self-righteousness is incompatible with coalition building.
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    Space PickleSpace Pickle Registered User regular
    Way to go. I wouldn't bother asking questions on PA or worry too much about the theory you've read...you're about to get a crash course in how to teach for real. ;)

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    enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    Everything helps. I'm not worried about content instruction at all, that comes to me easy. It's all the other stuff I worry about, so I ask for advice.

    Self-righteousness is incompatible with coalition building.
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    schussschuss Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    What it comes down to is the fact that students are not educators. They can be peers, co-learners, possibly even mentors but they are not trained nor should they have liability for the success of other students. Group study, in a general in-classroom fashion, placed both the burden and expectation upon advanced students to play teacher without the training to know what is and isn't appropriate in that power dynamic. Similarly, that power dynamic can be abused (easily) by both parties. It's a bad educational model.

    I'd say it would be more appropriate to make older or advanced class students tutor younger, as peer relationships are messier from a respect standpoint.

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    CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    Aside from the other stuff people have said about peer grouping, an issue I had/have is that I understand math concepts in a quasi-visual-spatial way that's very hard to put into words: That is, math comes very easily to me, but I can't explain it to anyone else. Whenever I tried to help a friend with their math homework, we'd both end up frustrated. Eventually I learned to just tell people that I couldn't explain math to them, sorry.

    Also, I dreaded working collaboratively on anything, because I could either just do the work (and be perceived as showing off) or sit on my hands and be bored to tears.

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    curly haired boycurly haired boy Your Friendly Neighborhood Torgue Dealer Registered User regular
    timely topic - i'll be TAing for a STEM course this fall and I want to make sure i do it right.

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    enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    One thing NOT to do. Don't describe math as "black magic" without internal logic. Just had a friggin' teacher education professor do that. I got so pissed. Bonus: she was trying to teach (really basic) stats and didn't really understand it. Could have saved my classmates an hour if she just asked me to do it.

    I'm very frustrated today.

    Self-righteousness is incompatible with coalition building.
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    EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    I'm a big fan of the "Math is the Magic of the real world" argument for k-5th graders to explain that math can actually do most things in Harry Potter (want to fly? Math. Want invisibility? Math, and so forth).

    Describing the actual use of math as magic and unknowable is horrible.

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    enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    As a metaphor yeah it's cool. If you think the kids get that it is in fact a metaphor.

    Like it was literally just integral calculus in the context of the normal distribution. That's complicated, and initially hard, but it's not invoking a god damn spell. Ugh.

    Self-righteousness is incompatible with coalition building.
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