Research and Design Lab
The Upper Arlington High School Research and Design lab is a conceptual space to explore, prototype and design innovative approaches to teaching and learning. We began conceptualizing the lab during the 2015-2016 school year and due to a very generous donation from a local family and support from both the Upper Arlington Education Foundation and the Upper Arlington High School PTO, we have been able to invest time and resources into its development during the 2016-2017 school year.
RESEARCH AND DESIGN LAB BLOG
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Reading Across the Curriculum
What does reading across the curriculum look like?
While we could find many examples throughout the district, this past Wednesday, it looked like Erin Mayne’s algebra II class.
“You have to understand the difference between the questions,” she told students scattered around her room, clustered in collaborative groups. “What are each of the questions asking you to do?”
Then instead of moving on--or simply telling them herself--Mayne turned her students loose to dissect the questions.
“Pop your hand up when you know. I want to give people a chance to think.”
As hands popped up, Mayne dashed around the room, squeezing between tight groups of desks to check answers, and once at least one person in each of the collaborative clusters had it down, Mayne directed him or her to teach. “Now, talk in your groups. Why is A different than B and B different than C?”
A murmur of mumbles swelled, fingers pointed to notebooks, calculators took on a life of their own, and students became both the recipient and the administrator of explanation. All the while, Mayne continued to circle, providing feedback, prodding and pushing their thinking, and, when the moment called for it, using her wry humor to make them laugh.
At one point, a student answered the question by making an assumption.
“I agree with you that it is 63,” Mayne told him. “But you can’t assume from the table that 63 is the maximum. How can we go through the algebraic process to prove 63 is the maximum and (1, 63) is the vertex?”
Catching the mistake of his thought process almost instantaneously--before the student’s assumptions and the coincidence that allowed them to be true solidified in his mind as the way to find an answer--Mayne showed him how to revise the narrative. Had the class not been so collaborative and interactive, I’m not sure she would have caught it so quickly; nevertheless, because it was, she was able to redirect him before his way of “reading the question” registered as the way to do the work.
On and on this went.
She asked the class some variation of “what is this question asking?” or “how are these questions different?” over a dozen times within the course of a 44 minute period. When a student asked how many different types of questions would be on the test, she challenged the room to look at the wording of homework questions and group them according to what information was given or what outcome was desired.
“What information is being given in the scenario?” she asked, “and what form of the quadratic is being used and why?”
In other words, instead of directly answering the question, she challenged them to think beyond the numbers--beyond the plugging--pushing them to dig into the the actual language. She challenged them to actually understand the purpose of what they were doing and when they might actually use it.
She showed them that critical, purposeful “reading” is just as important in math as it is in English or history.
She did her part to show that critical, purposeful reading is how we make sense of each and every part of our world.
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