Week 2: Discussion question (Option 1)

11 Nov 2017 7:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

What have you observed about how students use the phrase "This is easy" in your classroom? What has been the effect?

Comments

  • 11 Nov 2017 7:47 PM | Anonymous member
    I was fortunate to have read this chapter before we started the year. Our team decided to take a couple of weeks to explore some Week of Inspirational Math lessons and videos with multi-age groups. One of the things we did was to talk about what makes math difficult for us. I have a poster that I refer to that shares their responses: “that was easy,” quick hand-raisers or shout-outs, teachers who show off and just do the math for them, “I’m already on #…,” and more. This still happens, but we can refer to the poster, and students are more willing to speak up and make mistakes and try new things.
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  • 12 Nov 2017 5:49 AM | Anonymous member
    The phrase "this is easy" was shouted out a quite few times through the first couple of months of school during independent work, teamwork, whole group lesson, and guided group lessons.
    At first, it seemed that a few students shouted it out because they knew the concepts and could perform the calculations quicker than their peers. To boost their confidence and look like a shining star to their teacher they boast about how easy it is for them. This was not always the truth because at times they did not know how to perform the calculations just thought that they did.
    We've talked about how shouting out how easy math is can be difficult for other students to hear. We all learn at different speeds and in different ways what is easy for me may be harder for you. Sharing our strategies and toolboxes will help us stay in it together so that the whole learning community feels like they are not in it alone. When someone says its easy I look for the deer in the headlight looks those are the kiddos that have math anxiety. They get instantly petrified that they don't know and that can block their thinking very quickly.
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  • 12 Nov 2017 12:16 PM | Anonymous member
    Students who use the phrase “This is easy” are often learners with strong computational skills who view math as a procedural quest for the “right” answer. They detest explaining their thinking, listening and/or responding to the thinking of others, are unwilling to take risks, and worst of all….they cannot persevere! These students are often not mathematicians.

    The impact on classroom culture is initially tense. Other kids seem to wonder what is wrong with themselves, they don’t see the math as “easy.” Other learners may become more reserved or hesitant to volunteer their thinking. This one statement rocks the foundation of many, especially those who are just beginning to see themselves as mathematicians. The long term impact depends on how I respond, and has the potential to be profound. These learners CAN become mathematicians!!

    The “this is easy crowd” are very uncomfortable with my style of teaching – at first. They want me to “tell” them if their answer is right, or how to do it. My questions frustrate them, my encouraging the thinking of less computationally skilled learners tests their patience. “Making” them work in groups with those they don’t deem as equally skilled as they is irritating. Some of them even state they don't like math anymore.

    Gradually, however the students can and do learn to think more deeply. With time, they begin to investigate, wonder, ask “why” instead of “what is,” – the mathematician in them begins to emerge!
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  • 12 Nov 2017 4:51 PM | Anonymous member
    When students in my class say "This is easy!" I cringe and I have seen kids in the class cringe, too. I have always told my students not to say that because it can make others feel bad. Gradually other kids will even say to that student, "You aren't supposed to say that!" It makes me feel good to hear some students have gotten the message, but I wish all students would refrain from saying something is easy. It's like they need to say it to feel good about themselves and show off in front of their peers.
    In addition to reminding them that they should not be saying that something is easy, I now also rephrase for them, saying, "You mean you have some experience with this?" They say "oh, yeah.." remembering our conversation at the beginning of the year when we discussed what kids mean when they say "This is easy.". I do think it is good to begin the year with discussion of that phrase, but I think we need to come back to it periodically throughout the year. I know I need to!
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  • 12 Nov 2017 5:46 PM | Anonymous member
    I didn't realize how often students in my class were saying "this is easy." I get as many comments about the word being hard. The funny part is that there seems to be no connection between what they say and the quality of work that they produce. Students often comment about the difficulty when they first look at a task or when they try the first problem on a worksheet. They are quick to make a judgement. We had a conversation about this. They really mean that it "looks familiar."
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    • 12 Nov 2017 10:52 PM | Anonymous member
      That is funny. In the past, I have noticed the same thing. Sometimes there is no connection between quality of work and saying it is easy. Looking familiar and being easy can be very different. Language use is amazing.
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  • 12 Nov 2017 6:31 PM | Anonymous member
    I often hear "This is easy" in my classroom when students have previous background knowledge in a topic we are working on. These are often the students that are the first to raise their hands and try to answer all the questions. While they feel proud when they can answer, I can look around the room and notice that students who are not as confident will not make eye contact with me because they know one of the other kids will answer the questions easily for them.

    I challenge those students that say "This is easy" to think about how they would feel if they were in the other kids shoes. Once I say this, they often think first before they say it again. I also challenge these students to ensure they understand how to solve the problem but also why they solve them the way they do. Helps them to explain their work to others.

    As I have worked through growth mindset activities the past couple of years and trying to change my students vocabulary to a more positive one, I have seen less of this and more positive outlooks on math, even when it is hard
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  • 12 Nov 2017 6:46 PM | Anonymous member
    I work in a special ed pull out setting at the middle school level. I have worked with my students since the 6 th grade and we are on our final year together. ‘This is easy’ had been discussed in my classroom many times in the 6 th grade and part of the 7 th grade.

    There have been a few students who are very quick to respond (not always accurately) and will confidently say that ‘this is easy’. I have a handful of students who slowly process the information and seem to completely shut down when they hear ‘this is easy’. We have had numerous discussions about the phrase. I feel that a student who is not confident and who is trying to figure it out gets really down on themselves. They don’t see it and feel like ‘what is wrong with me’ that I don’t see it. This year, some of my excited, confident students tend to catch themselves and do not say ‘this is easy’. Progress!
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    • 14 Nov 2017 11:49 PM | Anonymous member
      Hi Joan,

      Having been a tutor for the special education department in our district, I have done class pull out. I had a couple of students once that found it liberating to get out of the classroom setting and ask the questions that they would not dare ask in a larger classroom setting. Working on a dry erase poster was their "go to" activity. They could easily erase mistakes and when a problem was complete and correct they would copy it down on paper (to pass in). All the "dry runs" on a problem was something that I could communicate to the teacher, but their work completion made them feel like "this is easier than I thought it was", instead of "what is wrong with me".
      I often see visual processing issues in Geometry. I tell the students (individually) that I can't go in and rewire their brain, but I can give them extra tools to help them process the problems (covering up part of a diagram, using colored pencils to distinguish or accentuate parts of a problem, turning the paper to keep a horizon line, etc.).
      Watching them shut down is so hard and the increased anxiety levels inhibit their learning process. I don't think the "this is easy" students realize what it is like for the "shoe to be on the other foot".

      Pam
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  • 12 Nov 2017 7:22 PM | Anonymous member
    When students in my class have yelled out "This is easy." I have observed 2 main things happen. Other kids will join in with "It's easy." even if they don't get it just to be seen as smart or other kids seem to shrink in their seats trying to not be seen because they can't figure out why it is not easy for them.

    The effect has been those kids who like math seem to be inspired to go on and figure it out and it is a confidence booster for them. Those kids who struggle with math feel like there is some secret code they just don't get and stop trying. It is not easy for them and they feel like their must be something wrong with them that it isn't easy for them.

    Saying "This is easy." seems like such an innocent thing to say, but it can have a big influence over how kids in the class are feeling about the math lesson or math in general.
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  • 12 Nov 2017 8:25 PM | Anonymous member
    My experience with "This is easy" has mirrored Kathleen's (below) very closely.

    When I do hear it, I try to acknowledge it in a whole-group manner. Sometimes I'll say, "Well, YOU think it's easy, but I know there are folks in the room right now who are still wrapping their brains around it -- let's give everyone some time to process," or something along those lines. Other times I'll ask if we need to up the challenge, especially if I get the sense that the speaker really is speaking for the room, expressing boredom.

    Generally, my students have been receptive to the reminder that it's not always easy for everyone, and that we don't want to leave anyone behind. I don't hear "this is easy!" that often in class, I think mostly because when it comes up I do tend to police it.

    I have noticed two things in this regard.

    1. "I like this!" is coming into more frequent use, and I think it is definitely reflecting kids who like something because they feel confident, but don't want to say "This is easy!"

    2. There is still a tiny, tiny subgroup of "not nice," hyper-competitive kids, who seem to use "this is easy" as a weapon to make other kids feel badly. Interestingly, they throw "this is easy" out too early in whatever process, almost as if they know they need to "claim" it before it actually isn't easy anymore. These kids are harder to deal with, because their motivation isn't exuberance of "I get this!" but exactly the opposite: "I get this before YOU do." Honestly, I struggle with this. I try to respond the same way I do in other classes, with the comment that not everyone thinks it's easy, but there are moments where I say, "That's because we haven't done any [calculus] yet! I hope you think the Algebra is easy, or we're in trouble!" That usually gets a chuckle of relief from the rest of the class and shuts down the braggers... but it's still not ideal, because often enough in upper-level classes, the algebra isn't easy, either!
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  • 12 Nov 2017 10:48 PM | Anonymous member
    After 20 years at the middle school, I now teach pre-k, concentrating on giving them math language as much as possible. Because pre-k is about training to get ready for school, they are young, innocent, and positive. I have a STAPLES "That was easy" button that students are able to push after they have completed work time. They do not have the language of that is easy or hard. It is just, "I can or can't." My goal is for them to know the word math and that it equals fun. Pushing the easy button says they accomplished a task. They can and did do it!
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  • 13 Nov 2017 7:30 PM | Anonymous member
    I teach a combined 4th and 5th grade class. For the last 2 years I have used the Inspirational Math videos in my class, and we revisit them throughout the year. "This is so easy" I have heard it in the classroom, interestingly more this year than in the past. When it is said during math, it is more of an expression of excitement, celebration, or to boost the individuals confidence. However the impact, intended or not, can create negativity in the classroom culture. We stop and rephrase what the student is feeling or thinking and talk about how saying "this is easy" can make others feel.

    This leads me to a question I have been thinking about since last year when a student shouted out in excitement..."it feels so good to be right" when solving a challenging problem. I was taken back when this was said. What does it mean, what does it say about making a mistake or perseverance. Don't we want student to "feel" good when they don't give up, and when they struggle. How do we communicate that. How can we celebrate those things instead.

    We talk about persevering, and making mistakes, and revising our thinking. We discuss how the brain grows when mistakes and made and then worked through. So why does it "feel so good to be right" ?
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    • 14 Nov 2017 11:58 PM | Anonymous member
      Hi Susan,
      In a slightly different scenario, when an honors level student only wants to know their grade and doesn't care about looking at their test (if the grade is satisfactory by their standards). In this case, the student has been "right enough" to pass, so the mistakes/errors don't matter. No further learning take place and there is no "perseverance" to revise any further. I would rather have students be happy about completing a multi-task problem with a few minor sign errors, that get a quick correct answer on a single-task problem.

      Pam
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  • 14 Nov 2017 11:29 PM | Anonymous member
    Chapter 2:
    What Do Mathematicians Do?

    Option 1:

    In the past several years, I seem to have a wider spectrum of student abilities within classes than I have had in the past. As such, having students finish a two-sided worksheet or online activity at two to three times the speed of their classmates sets a tone of awareness among the students of their ability levels (even if comments like “This is easy.” aren’t said out loud). When these comments are made, there is definitely “feedback” from the other students (“what?”, “you’ve got to be kidding”, etc.). My favorite response is, “will you come and help me?”.

    Students helping students is a great tool, if the “teaching student” has the patience. Unfortunately, some students can’t understand why their classmates “don’t get it”. Cooperative pairs and groups have to be selected carefully.

    By high school, some of these students have been in classes together for ten years. The students know who thinks math is easy or hard. They have strong feelings about their confidence levels and in some cases even criticize or make fun of themselves when they make a mistake.

    I often use the concept of a continuum to help the students with their confidence levels. Each student is “somewhere on the math continuum”. Nobody knows nothing and nobody knows everything. For each skill set that we cover there is a new continuum (for graphing, solving, drawing/sketching, etc.). Students often move higher or lower on a given continuum as we change topics. Some students that have lower skills have a very good common sense about mathematical solutions (especially when they are set in a context). In contrast, some with strong algebraic solving skills assume that their answer is correct, but do not understand why their answer might be wrong (e.g. a negative value for the length of the side of a triangle).

    Although I like the idea of reading mathematical stories, so students understand some of the history of mathematics. Most of them cannot understand why mathematicians would want to spend months or longer proving mathematical theorems. One book that I tried to read an excerpt from (a few years ago) was “Here’s Looking at Euclid”, by Alex Bellos. It discusses a trip up the Amazon to a village where the tribe do not have a counting system (numbers 1 - 10). In this culture all of my students could be “teachers of math”.

    Pam
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  • 15 Nov 2017 9:52 AM | Anonymous member
    I have a math class of 15 students with mixed abilities. I have a student that likes to state 'this is easy' and when I hear it I remind the student that it's not very fair as some students may not think it is easy. Reading this chapter I see there are other phrases the student could use to validate what they are feeling. I really enjoyed reading about the 'math walk' around the school. I am thinking about how that could be used in the middle school! I think the student saying 'that was easy' is looking for validation - I think this student might not be getting a lot of that when I think about it. The student views himself as smart in math - but when I look at their work - I see there are strategies he has learned to answer a multiple choice question - but doesn't understand the math behind the question. I think the student is beginning to realize this too.
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  • 15 Nov 2017 11:12 AM | Anonymous member
    When I was in the classroom as a 4th grade teacher, I noticed that students loved to use the phrase- "This is easy!" and it bothered me, and I knew it bothered others, therefore I always started my first week of school having a conversation with my students about being an individual and the different types of learners in our class who might come and go here and there for learning, as well as the strengths and weaknesses we all had. Many of the kids knew their strengths and weaknesses as learners and were invited to share, as I did. I went on to say that taking risks and setting goals could help strengthen our weaknesses and that it was important to work hard and to be positive and to respect another's learning. Of course the phrase Growth Mindset hadn't been officially promoted at this time, but it was just that.

    As the days progressed and the kids got more comfortable and the "that's easy" would pop up in the middle of class, my response would always be, "It's easy because you've been working hard and practicing how to work out these types of problems and now it's all coming together and making sense to you". Of course I always had the few who disagreed and said, "No , I just knew it," only to hear me say...."We all have our strengths and weaknesses..right?"

    I took the approach and reinforced that it was hard work that went into understanding the concept that now made it easy, and for some it would take a bit longer but they would also get it. I did see the amount of "shout outs" diminish overtime, though not completely, but the comment from me remained consistent and for me.

    I provided a safe space for risk taking and learning.
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  • 15 Nov 2017 12:08 PM | Anonymous member
    I have observed my students using the phrase "This is easy" in my classroom in different ways. At times, when I start math time and present a new concept some students will quickly yell out "This is too easy" before I even have time to fully present the concepts. Often the kids that shout out are the ones that might not truly understand what is even being presented. My response often is "Before we can move past this concept you need to show me that you are able to do it.” I don’t want to stifle kids, but I want them to realize that even if something appears easy to them there is a reason we are practicing concepts in math to help them have a deeper understanding.

    I also have seen students who use this phrase once they have had lots of practice with a concept and finally feel confident in themselves. I try not to have students using this phrase because it can effect those students who might be struggling and become frustrated. I also feel that by using this phrase students who math comes easy to might then feel that when they come to something that isn’t as easy for them that they aren’t as good at math anymore. I try to have my students realize that there are always new things to learn in math and we are always moving forward. I also want them to realize it is important to do things that may be challenging and that making mistakes helps them learn. Those students who seem to struggle with concepts at first seem to be the ones to end up really understanding because they have made mistakes that they have learned from. It is harder for students who can quickly solve a math problem in their head to explain how they got an answer. I am trying to get my students to focus on how they got their answer instead of just getting it “right” or a math concept being “easy.”
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    • 15 Nov 2017 6:39 PM | Anonymous member
      Amanda,

      I have also seen that students who initially find things "easy" in math usually shut down when "the going gets tough", so to speak! I agree with the comment you made about how kids who struggle generally learn "stick-to-it-iveness" when solving math problems.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Danielle
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  • 15 Nov 2017 4:34 PM | Anonymous member
    As a Math Coach I hear this comment often and noticed that it has a negative effect on some students as they sometimes stop trying or defer to the student who says "this is easy". When I hear this I often stop and ask, "What part of this is easy for you?" or "When did this become easy?" Students are often surprised to explain why something is easy and when it became easy for them. " I also ask what do you need to know and be able to do for this to be easy?"
    The classroom has to have a culture of respect and responsibility for defending their comments. In the beginning of the year it is important to build a this culture of risk taking and calling each other on what they mean when they say this is easy or this is stupid...

    I have also observed teachers refer to class anchor charts in which students have co created that address how we talk in a classroom that shows respect and kindness to where everyone is on their learning journey. By doing this it is clear to everyone what and how we talk to each other matters.
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    • 15 Nov 2017 6:42 PM | Anonymous member
      Carrie,

      I agree that we have an obligation to foster respectful attitudes on the learning journey (I like that phrase, by the way!). I also find it interesting when kids are unable to explain their reasoning, but yet they are quick to solve problems. It is always telling to me when a student cannot explain their answer-- it makes me realize that I need to delve deeper into their understanding because it is possible they do not understand the "why" of the answer.

      Thank you for sharing!
      Danielle
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  • 15 Nov 2017 6:37 PM | Anonymous member
    I have had students say, "This is easy!" or "We have already learned this!" in my middle school classroom this year... generally, the students who say this are the ones who are "on the cusp" of understanding a concept. I can tell right away that the students who struggle more are bothered by this comment... I try to move on quickly once a student has said this. I also have pointed out to them that, even though they have already been taught this, they have not shown me that they understand how to use strategies to solve specific problems.

    All of this brings me to assessing my own teaching of math. Even though I am not a professed "math person", I am definitely someone who benefited from the old "drill and kill" concept when it came to math in school. That is the one thing I LOVED about math-- if you knew the formula or algorithm, you could solve any problem that was thrown your way. This makes it difficult for me to teach students who do not learn the same way that I do. I have a hard time remembering that I need to have multiple ways to present mathematical concepts. I need to be more proactive about finding the best way to teach each student in my class, even if each student requires a different method of instruction.
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  • 16 Nov 2017 12:06 PM | Anonymous member
    I have seen children shut down when others say "this is easy" . Others however have come back with comments such as "no it's not" or "maybe for you". I have tried to stop these comments, so was glad to read about the conversations had and ways to rephrase that statement so other students don't feel like they are not up to par because they are struggling.
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  • 16 Nov 2017 5:46 PM | Anonymous member
    I have not heard many four year olds use the phrase “This is easy” but often say "I know how to do it". I wonder if they are referring to how much experience they have had with a task or perhaps they have seen someone else do the same task. I recently had a brief conversation with one of my students about putting a small 12 piece puzzle together. I asked her if she would like help since she was not at school when we demonstrated how to put puzzles together. She replied “I can do it” and quickly began manipulating the pieces but finding no connections. It wasn’t long before she gave up, stating that it was too hard. I am wishing now that I had asked more questions about what she meant. What was it about the puzzle that made her feel so confident? Was she drawn to the picture on the puzzle? Had she observed her older sister doing puzzles? Is she one of the students who is quick to respond to the correct answer for “how many” question? This chapter has also made me more conscious of the Emilys and Serenas in my classroom and how to help them grow their inner mathematician.
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  • 16 Nov 2017 7:48 PM | Anonymous member
    I've noticed the comment "This is easy" in two different circumstances.

    THE BAD WAY...
    First, from the kid that says it all the time because they think something is easy or they just want the recognition from their peers. Unfortunately, this effects many kids in a negative way. Often the students who do not think the work is easy feel less confident because they do not understand the topic. This often leads to a lack of effort and avoidance on their part because they don't want to show their neighbor that they are struggling with an "easy" topic.

    THE GOOD WAY...
    The next way a student uses the phrase is positive for the student and the students around them. At times kids are working hard at a concept and have struggled to understand the ideas behind it. When they finally make a breakthrough they are excited and energetically say, "This is easy!" The kids around this student are often energized because they have seen this student struggle along side of them. This realization often sparks discourse between students because the other kids want to know the "secret." to this great math riddle. Through this discourse confidence is gained by all that are involved!
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  • 16 Nov 2017 9:37 PM | Anonymous member
    I notice that too often students are saying, "this is easy" either when they know how to start a problem or before they even attempt it. As soon as the words come out of their mouths I notice other students in the room feel defeated. We had a conversation about this and I asked them to be more mindful of their classmates. I'm hopeful to put a stop on this language.
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  • 17 Nov 2017 7:43 AM | Anonymous member
    "This is easy, everyone should get that." was just stated in my third grade class. So, I decided to say "everyone freeze!" I just heard something interesting said out loud and I want you to shout out one word that you were felt when you heard that. Here are their responses, "SCARED, NERVOUS, ANGRY, SAD, UNHAPPY, NOT BELIEVING IN MYSELF ANYMORE, HORRIBLE. I think this conversation was eye opening for my class and our climate. Turns out the student that said it ended up with the wrong number, so he and I did some reflecting on how he felt afterwards.
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  • 17 Nov 2017 9:46 AM | Anonymous member
    I have a very competitive group of students this year and am hearing that phrase more than I ever have before. I have encouraged them to come up with a way to quietly celebrate that feeling of success and it's working very well. I don't want to squash the excitement some of them feel when they "get it." Having the conversation about quietly celebrating did create and interesting conversation though. I had asked why they felt like they needed to shout it out and most of them said it was because they were excited to be able to do the math quickly. When I pointed out that it is distracting to others they genuinely seemed remorseful and some even apologized.
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  • 17 Nov 2017 10:07 AM | Anonymous member
    I hear the phrase "this is so easy" used quite regularly in my room. I always try to address it when it comes up, but I am looking forward to having a class discussion like the example in the book. I think it will be good for students to be able to share their feeling when they hear someone else use this phrase, and for others to hear how it makes their classmates feel!
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  • 17 Nov 2017 3:50 PM | Anonymous member
    When I was still a classroom teacher, I would hear "This is easy" until I told students that I did not want them to say anything until we were all ready to discuss or work on something. We talked about how some things are easier for some people and when we say things like it's easy, it makes others feel bad and it causes them to stop thinking. They all thought of a time when something was not so easy for them and reflected on how they felt. This helped to stop the "This is easy" comment because they realized that they had things that were more difficult as well. I also think sometimes kids say it when they want the teacher to think they know it.
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  • 17 Nov 2017 4:05 PM | Anonymous member
    I asked my students to:
    Reflect on things you don’t like people to say or do in a group when they are working on math together.
    Give away the answer before they have time to think
    Having their ideas ignored
    Having to rush-not enough time to think
    Having someone take over the group
    “I can’t believe you don’t get this.”
    “This is baby stuff.”
    Reflect on the things you do like?
    Take turns
    Share materials
    Stay on Task
    Everyone works
    “Great idea.”
    “Let’s try this.”

    I followed this discussion with, “How do you feel when some says, ‘This is easy?’” In my classroom, I have observed that when one student remarks, “This is easy,” that the learning often shuts down for my least capable students. We are working toward developing a growth mindset. We had an interesting discussion and came up with some remarks that are more helpful.

    Let’s work on this together.
    This is like what we did when…
    We can do this.
    Let’s get some help.
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  • 17 Nov 2017 9:37 PM | Anonymous member
    I was thinking that I don't hear the phrase "This is easy" very often in my classes, as I was reading the chapter on Sunday night. And then on Monday, during the last block of the day (high school geometry), not only did I hear "This is easy" by one student, shortly thereafter another student said, "Easy peasy lemon squeezy!" (Did they somehow know that I read those words the night before?!) So many of my students come into high school geometry and algebra 2 with the notion that math is "hard" or "I'm not good with math" that it feels like a celebration when someone says "I get this! This is easy!" particularly for that hard-working student that struggles.
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    • 19 Nov 2017 12:01 PM | Anonymous member
      I, too, see the celebration in the phrase "This is easy." When I first read the phrase one particular student came to mind. When I hear him say, "This is easy" I know I will see a smile on his face and his body will be relaxed. In general, school is not easy for him and he often uses the words "This is confusing" or "I don't get this", so when he says "This is easy" I know he feels confident in his work. After reading the chapter I see the other side to this phrase as well and understand how it can make others feel bad about their math work in the moment. I can see the benefit of encouraging my students to say "I think I've got this now" or "I think I understand". But when I hear this one boy say, "This is easy" I know he is feeling good about math.
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  • 18 Nov 2017 5:38 AM | Anonymous member
    I find that my students use the phrase "This is easy" interchangeably with "This is fun". Usually, if they are working in a partnership and feel supported by the learners (and teachers) around them, or if it feels like a game or like play to them, then they experience the task as "easy." I find that the more I am able to interject play or partnership into our day, the more the students buy in to what we are doing and are more willing to attempt things.
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  • 18 Nov 2017 10:40 AM | Anonymous member
    I tease my students and say that if they think it is easy, we need to be working together to push them harder. There's no growth being made when things are too easy. That being said, I find that the students who are thinking things are too "easy," are typically students who are not mindfully solving the problem, or thinking about the deeper understanding that went into it. For me, it seems like, "This is easy," typically comes from students being asked to do surface level tasks.
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  • 19 Nov 2017 10:15 AM | Anonymous member
    I have heard students shout out “this is easy” in math class and the effect has never been positive. As listed in other comments, the saying leads to frustration for some and giving up for others. We have had classroom discussions about how students feel when they hear these words. They said things like “this isn’t easy for me”, “ why don’t I get it “, “ math is stupid/dumb”, “makes me want to stop/quit trying” , “I want to tell them to shut up”, “makes me feel stupid because I don’t get it”, and “I feel embarrassed to ask any questions.” As a class, the students then came up with some alternate sayings to use instead of “this is easy.” One of my favorites is “ if anyone needs help, I understand how to do this!”
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  • 19 Nov 2017 12:23 PM | Anonymous member
    This year's students have rarely used the phrase, " this is easy". Last year's class did it frequently even after many discussions about what that meant and the affect it had on classmates. I have found that a child might say this to cover up a feeling of inadequacy while others might say it to feel superior. Some children might say it because they are surprised that the math is coming easy for them.

    We discuss that we're pleased when a math skill comes easily but that won't always be true. I should be challenging my
    students so they have to take time to work through a complex problem. We are rewarded emotionally when faced with a new strategy or problem to solve and come to a solution after persevering.If the children are working cooperatively, then then those that are having trouble will be helped by those that find the process less intimidating and every one is rewarded.
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  • 19 Nov 2017 4:55 PM | Anonymous member
    When my students say, "This is easy!" it is often with a sense of surprise. This is especially true when I work with struggling students. Quite often, these students don't 'get it' the first time around, so when I spend one-on-one time with them, I will walk them through the process again. When they finally do get it, they will say, "Hey! This is easy!" Often, however, the effect is that they don't think they need to learn anything more about the concept, and when they encounter a more difficult (but similar) challenge the cycle starts all over again.

    With more advanced students, on the other hand, the problem comes when they think something is easy when it is really quite complicated. As Zager points out, students who think they are good at math are often just have good working memories and have an exceptional ability to memorize facts, figures, and formulas. With these students, I try to have them see beyond the formula to how it is derived and why it works. Some students welcome this added challenge, while some just want to do the problems without any deeper sense of conceptual understanding.
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  • 19 Nov 2017 7:07 PM | Anonymous member
    Like many other teachers, I cringe a bit when I hear a student say, "This is easy." I know that others in the room don't find it easy and this comment adds to their negative feelings about math. I try very hard to foster a positive atmosphere in class and encourage students to believe in the growth mindset. I love the idea of having a conversation about these (and other) comments and their effect on others.
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  • 20 Nov 2017 7:27 PM | Anonymous member
    Regarding Math, we were doing perimeter the other day. I had introduced it a little while back, but doing Geometry now, brought the perimeter back to learn. After the lesson, I asked students on their white boards to give me the answer, showing how they found the answer on their whiteboards. They all had done it correct. I asked them to show me with a 1-4 response how difficult or easy it was for them. (1 is always a very hard time of it, 4 being so easy, could teach others.) Some raised 10 fingers! I said Wow after congratulating them on their correct answers. They said it was easy! I said why do you think it was easy? Most all of them said because I had modeled it on the board, then we all got a chance to practice it. I said what do you mean by easy? They said we were able to do it without any problem at all.
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