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Let Students Do the Work

Let Students Do the Work!


Letting Students Do the Work

Most of us can probably remember a time when we were taking a high-stakes test and were told to stop working and put our pencils down.

As teachers, we need to put our pencils down to make sure students are doing their work. Too often, teachers respond to student queries by showing them how to complete a task or solve a problem. Even teachers committed to fostering student thinking can fall into this trap. It can be quite challenging to refrain from indicating exactly where a student made an error within a series of steps or from resolving a mathematical disagreement during a discussion, but to do so would eliminate learning opportunities for the students. We will invariably make such an error, especially when feeling the pressure of time, but our intentions to avoid doing so should be firm. We do not want to be so helpful that we lower the cognitive demand of a task (Zucker 2012). Note that the blog of well-known TED speaker Dan Meyer (dy/dan) has the motto less helpful.

How We Teachers Do Too Much

There are other ways we can do too much of the work. For example, when we:

  • Provide too many sub-questions, which keep students from having to make sense of a problem.

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