It is twelve days into the semester and I feel that I have reached a important milestone… every student in my IBL classes have completed their first presentation! Even though I have small classes (n = 2, 8, 12, and 22, but the 22 is a Algebra class, so the presentations are pretty quick), I consider this a milestone, because (to be completely honest) I was initially quite worried that certain students would not muster up the courage to present in front of me and their peers. I have worked hard to establish a culture where making mistakes is okay and even decided to allow students to revisit presentations within one week of their initial attempt without any penalty. However, as I began observing and interacting with my students, I noticed that I had a few shy students who lacked confidence in each class. I did have to use the “volun-told” method with the last 2-3 students, but after being told that it was their turn to present, they did not resist presenting. I believe that seeing that some of their peers’ presentations were not flawless from the gate, but they still ended up clearly solving and explaining the problem, helped minimize the fears that the shyer less confident students felt about presenting. I also think that the day one buy-in activities (that I described in my “Power of Student Presentations” post) have contributed to a classroom culture where it is okay to make mistakes and students feel safe sharing.
Each time that a student presents I ask all of their peers to write down a rating of the presentation as well as some feedback. In our rating system a 3 represents a presentation that is accurate and well explained, a 2 signifies a presentation that is partially incorrect or partially confusing, and a 1 is given if the presentation is unclear or inaccurate. I also ask students to write down at least one meaningful piece of feedback (to avoid feedback such as “good job”). Thus far, I have been typing up the peer evaluations and my evaluation and returning it to the presenter at the beginning of the next class meeting. I also have been maintaining an excel document based on the format that Dr. Stan Yoshinobu shared with us after the 2015 IBL Workshop.
In typing up students’ ratings and feedback I am noticing that most students are rating their peers’ presentations as a 3 and very few are providing any meaningful feedback. I am concerned about the lack of discrimination in the evaluations. Two of my classes are for students majoring in Elementary Education and one is for students majoring in Secondary Mathematics Education, so I feel that the presentations have two important purposes. For one, I feel that they are a vehicle for improving the students’ understanding of the math concepts. Secondly, I feel that they will help students improve their ability to effectively explain the math concepts. Given the critical importance of presentations, I want students to take the rating and feedback system seriously. Going forward, I have decided to provide students with the following rubric:
I think that using this rubric will ensure that the presenters obtain worthwhile feedback and it will eliminate the need for me to type up all of the evaluations. Overall, round one went very well and I am confident that round two will be even more successful!