Illuminating students’ comments

“Thou one should not ignore the students’ comments”

As teacher in the classroom, sometimes, we can get too engrossed in finishing the syllabus that we would brushed aside students’ comments. We are too focused on the teaching and not on students’ learning. Sometimes, their immediate comments after some specific lesson activity can be illuminating and provide insights what they are thinking. Let’s face it, they are not “me”. How can I , then, assume that I know what they are thinking?

This week, my students made some insightful comments that make me modify my lesson on the spot.  Here are the two incidents:

(1) Mathematics – Geometry

In this geometry problem, there is a triangle enclosed within the parallelogram. I was trying to get them to identify the equally opposite angles in the parallelogram. Surprisingly, they could not seem to identify. I then asked them why they were not able to do so. One of the student commented, “But, there is a triangle there”. It is a simple but yet powerful comment that made me realize that they might have thought once the figures were “mixed up”, they could no longer apply the property.  I immediately explained to them that was not the case.

Since knowing they are “mixed up” over “mixed figures”, I would be mindful when I go through similar question with them.  This includes getting them to highlight the figure so that they can apply the relevant properties.

(2) Science – Wordy question

My students were supposed to do a question in the activity book. One of the student made this comment, “It is too wordy. I do not understand”. I was quite surprised as this question is not that wordy and that was even a picture to make the question clearer.  Instead of brushing off this comment and say “just read”, I decided to model how I would use the picture to help me understand the question.

Without looking at the text, I would look at the picture and tried to guess what was going on. This would give me some idea what the question was all about. I then read the question to “double confirm” my guess.

Being cognizant of the challenge my students were facing “wordy problem”, in my subsequent lessons, I would make it a point to model how to use the picture (if any) to best understand the question.

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