A set of reflections by a public high school math teacher as he implements the Harkness Method pioneered at Exeter Academy in his classroom.
I started using the Harkness method in my two Algebra 1 classes this week. Four days in, and one big trouble thus far is controlling the noise level. I have two groups of 12, and just having two discussions is leading to loud groups, echoing, and complaints that it's hard to hear.I see your pic of your room. How have you gotten the students to talk simultaneously without the volume in the room getting out of hand?
In my opinion, 12 is too large a group. It's probably about right if that's the entire class and the teacher can sit with them the entire time. However, with a more typically-sized class, I think 8-10 is better. The kids are closer to one another, and that in and of itself cuts down on the noise level. During second trimester, there were 31 students in a couple of my classes, so there was a group of 11 every day, and without fail the group of 11 had the toughest time.So, if you have the space in your classroom and if you have the board space, I would go with three groups of 8.