Date of this Version
In this action research study of my classroom of 8th grade algebra, I investigated students’ discussion of mathematics and how it relates to interest in the subject. Discussion is a powerful tool in the classroom. By relying too heavily on drill and practice, a teacher may lose any individual student insight into the learning process. However, in order for the discussion to be effective, students must be provided with structure and purpose. It is unrealistic to expect middle school age students to provide their own structure and purpose; a packet was constructed that would allow the students to both show their thoughts and work as a small group toward a common goal. The students showed more interest in the subject in question as they related to the algebra topics being studied. The students appreciated the packets as a way to facilitate discussion rather than as a vehicle for practicing concepts. Students still had a need for practice problems as part of their homework. As a result of this research, it is clear that discussion packets are very useful as a part of daily instruction. While there are modifications that must be made to the original packets to more clearly express the expectations in question, discussion packets will continue to be an effective tool in the classroom.