A story about how Hands-On Equations inspired three students!

Lisa Hoeflich, Depew, New York 

My Three New Shining Stars 

I have been teaching for 15 years and have never before seen such impressive results at the completion of a unit. I am a fifth and 6th grade enrichment teacher and I used the program with 161 students; including regular, gifted, and learning disabled.

My room arrangement is five round tables and students sit together and work in groups. In one of my 10 classes, I have 3 inclusion boys sitting at one table. This makes it easier for the inclusion teacher to offer them assistance all at once. These sixth graders also enjoy sitting with their friends. I have to say that these
three boys, I’ll refer to as Joe, John, and Jim, are rarely seen as leaders or positive role models. They struggle, find it difficult to remain on task, and at times, can be silly. They do not experience much success. 

When I introduced this new unit to the class, they really seemed to perk up and be interested in what I had to say. As we started through the lessons, THEY were the ones who were “getting it” and solving the problems accurately. They were quick. They would stand up and clap, smile, and dance after they checked their problems. They were the ones who listened to my directions, watched my modeling, and learned from my steps. Other kids who normally excelled, tried to do things their own way, take short cuts, and were making careless mistakes. 

Soon, my three new shining stars, Joe, John, and Jim, were my “teacher’s helpers” and checked other students’ problems for accuracy. I enjoyed watching them look over the gifted students’ papers. Quite a reversal of roles! In their reflection statements at the end of the quarter, they would write, “…I made so much progress in Hands-On Equations, …I felt like a leader… I was so fast… I felt good.”

I wonder if they’ll have any more experiences like this?

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