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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

What works in teaching English (discussion) may not work in teaching math

The most effective use of class time depends on the subject, concludes a study conducted in high-poverty English high schools, reports Hechinger's Jill Barshay.


"Students who spent more time in class solving practice problems on their own and taking quizzes and tests tended to have higher scores in math," the study found. In English, "teachers who allocated more class time to discussions and group work ended up with higher scorers in that subject."


Teachers in both subjects spent little time lecturing.


U.S. teachers are "encouraged incorporate 'math talks' as a way to develop mathematical reasoning and help students see multiple strategies for solving a problem," writes Barshay. "Progressive math educators might also favor group over individual work." This study suggests that's ineffective.


"Doing a lot of practice problems during school hours is a big part of the algebra tutoring programs that have produced strong results for teens," she notes. "Advocates of project-based learning once tried to develop a curriculum to teach math, but backed off when they struggled to come up with good projects for teaching abstract math concepts and skills. But they had success with English, science and social studies."

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4 Comments


Guest
Aug 08, 2023

xkcd #2595, Advanced Techniques by Randall Munroe

https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/2595:_Advanced_Techniques

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obiwandreas
Jul 27, 2023

I have to wonder how much of the math comparison is correlation. Those of my classes that spent the most time working on practice problems on their own were the ones who would actually shut up and pay attention during the lecture portion. Those classes where lecture stretched out to a larger portion of the period were the ones with constant interruptions and disturbances. It does not require clairvoyance to determine which classes tended to be more successful.

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Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
Jul 27, 2023
Replying to

None of the teachers spent much time lecturing.

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Guest
Jul 27, 2023

Teachers used to know this. I remember many teachers giving a short lecture on how to do the new math thing, then assigning us work to do. We'd work for 10 minutes and then they'd circulate, checking our work and answering questions. If they got the same question a lot, they'd do an explanation at the board for the whole class. If we worked diligently, we didn't have homework until we got to algebra. We could work in groups in the sense of asking each other questions as long as we were quiet, but the assignments were individual. English was similar and different - the teacher would explain symbolism and then we might divide into groups to come u…

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