You Doing Too Much

The material that my 9th grade Algebra students are doing continues to get harder. As it does, they like to complain, “you doin’ too much” meaning that it is too much work for getting one answer. The beginning of the year was spent working on concepts like order of operations, exponents, and combining like terms, which did not take as many complicated steps to get the answer. We moved on to solving simple equations and have now progressed to solving multistep, multivariable problems. The work is getting harder, so they have to start working harder.

For students whose favorite complaint is, “you’re doing too much” every time we do a problem, I respond…good. Algebra is a subject where the material builds off of each other. If you had trouble solving simple equations, you will have trouble doing multivariable equations, which means you will have trouble graphing lines. I try to encourage my students to start “doin’ too much”- show their work, check their answer, do extra practice problems, because that is the easiest way to get better at math. When a student starts doin’ too much, I make sure to tell them how well they are doing to show my appreciation for them getting work done.

To make doin’ too much more accessible, I carry around a small whiteboard and different colored markers. When I find a student who is having trouble, I sit next to them and we work through the steps on the board. Usually, I will write the problem in one color, and they will do their work in another color. That way, they can see what they did to solve the problem, not what I helped them with. As we continue to go through the problems, it will be more of their color and less of mine.  Using the whiteboard allows me to check understanding quickly and frequently and allows them to work through a problem without getting frustrated that they messed up their paper. I was surprised by how well this worked, but my students always want to work on Miss C’s whiteboard. Hopefully, students will start to see that to be successful, you sometimes have to be doin’ too much.

-Adrienne Cocci, Corps Member at Cody High School Academies

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