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Week 3: Chapters 6-7, Question #3 Which of Boaler’s suggestions for teaching heterogeneous groups effectively was interesting to you?

Which of Boaler’s suggestions for teaching heterogeneous groups effectively was interesting to

How could you apply Boaler’s suggestions for teaching heterogeneous groups effectively to
working with the multi-level classes that exist in most adult education programs?


Duane Dorion's picture

Offering a choice of tasks was the most interesting to be.  The main reason I feel that way is because I have never really tried this or seen other teachers offer this scenario.  Time is always the issue especially in adult education.  We are usually just paid for time we are teaching and maybe an extra hour a week.  So time to do this task would be on our time.  I am always changing my curriculum for the betterment of the students.  A lot of this I will get ready at home on my own time.  

I will look more into offering this in at least one of my classes and see what the results are.  I think that students would love to have a choice of what to work on in the class and also at home for homework.  

Rebecca Strom's picture

This sounds ideal for Practitioner Research!  It would be great to learn the different activities and tasks you offer in your classroom, how your students responded, and your experiences throughout.

Check out the Adult Numeracy Network website for details about the components and the stipend:

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Mary Jo Chmielewski's picture

I have found that when using relevant "real world" problems that it lends itself to students using a number of different strategies that are equitable. Robert Kaplinsky has an excellent website that encourages students to think more deeply without giving them too much information. It's all part of that productive struggle. For instance a couple of weeks ago, I used one of his real world examples of a sink hole in Guatemala. Students were fascinated and we came up with a list of questions - eventually wanting to explore how would they fill this hole. So the students started to investigate the information that they would need. Exactly where you want them as the instructor. Yep, except for one student who didn't make a connection, he didn't care about this sink hole or anything else related. So quickly knowing he wants to make a lot of money when he finishes with college, I asked him to find out what does the average worker make in Guatemala. He was all over this one and so much more, he came back to the rest of the group with information that really rounded out what this problem was all about. It was so much more than just figuring out the volume of a cylinder; there are so many other factors that we often times brush aside because maybe it doesn't fit our objective for the day. So sometimes teaching heterogeneously means not necessarily more work on our part, but creating an awareness and openness to explore problems inside and outside the world of math.

Patricia Helmuth's picture

Mary Jo,

I have also used the Guatemalan Sinkhole activity in my class and I found, as did you, that the subject really fascinated students, especially when the pictures were able to help them to appreciate the enormity of the sinkhole.  I really appreciated the way that you were able to engage the non-participatory student. I wished I’d thought of that when I was doing the activity with my students because I had one student, also, who didn’t really want to engage in the activity. He is, however, always talking about money, and how that’s the only thing that matters to him, so your diversion would have been perfect. I’ll keep that in mind for future reference.

One thing I appreciate about the Guatemalan Sinkhole activity is that it can start with just the picture - asking students what they notice or what questions they have about what they are seeing. No numbers at all are involved in this part of the discussion so it’s a great way to engage heterogeneous groups effectively. Every student can notice something or pose a question. You know that eventually someone will wonder how big the hole is, so there’s the way into the math!

- Patricia