What works in a Discipline Alternative Education Program, aka DAEP, epecially in math? Let me put out here what I know.
1. Many of these students have disengaged from the SCHOOL learning process. They have a history of failure and school is no longer important. Many have grand notions about what they can do and earn without the benefit of even a high school education.
2. They can learn. Many learn how to survive on the streets, within the gang culture, within dysfunctional families. They play video games and they can learn how to operate the newest cell phone without pause. They navigate social media as if it were reality – and for many, it may be.
3. Most want to succeed at something, and they will do whatever it takes. Now, that could mean clowning or becoming violent, but if one can grab their attention, and show them A way, not THE way … they can be unstoppable.
4. Many are dying for human connections, and that is figuratively and literally. Most of my students do not see how they fit in. True, they may be part of a gang, but they cannot hold a job. True, they may not want to be at school, but they come, almost every day. Starved for attention, they come.
This year I have tried a variety of approaches. I have modified the idea of “Flipped Teaching”, allowing students to view videos of instruction during class time, taking notes, and then giving some assignment, generally computer based. This seemed to work well for quite a while. However, I used videos already “out there”, from youtube, Khanacademy, and other sites, and so often what was presented in the video may not have been what I needed my students to learn. However, they DID watch, and they DID take notes. Almost every student remarked that programs like IXL.com and TenMarks.com that give immediate feedback were much more helpful than traditional paper and pencil task.
But even these things are failing me now.
I think it is in part, a sense of failure on the part of my students. I think, in part, it is a lack of connection with me as a teacher. And I think, in part, that we are all bored.
So what will work. I watched a TED video recently on gaming and education. Today, I read an article on gaming, not on necessarily playing games, but the aspects of games that hook us. So now I am wondering, how can I use some of these gaming techniques (badges, levels, modding, etc) along with what I already do, to keep us all interested.
Not sure how this will all pan out, but I have some new food for thought.