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Looking vs. Listening

September 14, 2012

Several students in my classes this semester are doing all of their writing in notebooks rather than in the PET book. (Either because the bookstore sold out and the don’t have a copy of the book yet or because they are renting the book and thus can’t write in it.) As I walk around during class, I’m noticing how much easier it is for me to make instructional decisions when I can see students writing in their PET books compared to writing in their notebooks. I’m not sure what this means. Maybe I anticipate rough spots based on my familiarity with the book or maybe I get stuck on autopilot and launch into predetermined ‘instructional scripts’ based on questions in the book more than student conversations. I’m reminded of the workshop when SV chose to pursue the normal force bridging analogy and to pivot away from some of the other lines of reasoning being proposed in that discussion. Am I sometimes pursuing an instructional strategy based on my ideas about what the book is saying rather than what the students are saying?

I can’t say right now if I feel like I’m less successful interacting with students writing in notebooks as opposed to books. So far I’m just surprised by how much I notice and how much it can feel different to me to try to quickly assess (while walking around the room) a group of students working in their notebooks rather than in their PET books. I also notice that for students working in their notebooks, when I read over their shoulders or when I listen to their conversation I automatically try to connect what I’m seeing or hearing with one of the questions in the PET book. I don’t know if this is a good, bad, or neutral habit.

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