Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Few Things That Annoy Me

Andy Rooney (1919-2011)
As I notice and wonder about blogs that I read, I'm finding two themes (memes?) that are very annoying. They are (1) instructional and (2) notice & wonder routines. Now that I’m retired and become more like Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame, I find my personal routines becoming more and more distasteful. After my morning coffee (which I look forward to) I do the following: (1) Clean the litter and litter area (we have 5 cats) (2) Make the bed assuming of course that my wife is up by then (3) brush my teeth with a fancy battery powered toothbrush (Quip) that takes 2 agonizing minutes to complete and (4) take my mouthful of vitamins which takes a while to sort out and swallow. Then I finally make my second cup of coffee and go to my desk to think creative thoughts (like the ones I’m writing now) and time begins to fly by. So needless to say I’m not fond of chore routines. Unfortunately, they are mostly necessary evils.

My concern about using instructional routines in math classrooms is that they can take over and become boring to students. Speaking of boring there are the notice and wonder routines. The ones I notice and wonder about are happenings in classrooms of bright, bushy tailed students that will notice and wonder excitedly about anything including spilled milk. But I wonder about the students who are less enthusiastic noticing, but only wondering and joking about why the teacher is asking such a boring question.

Now don’t get me wrong. If notice and wonder routines work for you, then by all means continue.

I found out from working at an adolescent kid’s camp in Maine back in the 70s that anti-routines where the best anecdote for boredom. At the end of each day the counselors would gather and plan the events for the next day. They were different each day. I know that camps are supposed to be about fun, but they are also educational. The lessons I learned at that camp (when I was in my 20s) served me well. I included an element of surprise in my math classes every day especially for those students who suffered from routines paralysis.