Wow this school year is flying by! My school officially finished the first quarter today.
Anyway.... The past few weeks I've really been trying to force students to talk to each other instead of asking me for help. At this point in the year my students are pretty much used to working in groups. However, I still find that they want me to justify their answers and for me to answer their questions instead of asking each other for help. I've made a new rule in my classroom that I probably should have had a long time ago. If I help one student in a group with a particular problem that group can no longer ask me for help with the same problem. I'm trying to get them to explain and talk mathematics to each other.
While this doesn't sound difficult, I think it has been harder for me to keep up with than my students. It's so easy to rush over and "help" a student with their question. The hand goes up and I go running... this has made them far too dependent on me for the answers. This week I had to literally force myself to just walk away. Instead of staying with a group for a long time I would drop a hint or comment and walk away to let them think. This seems to be helping them work together. However, it does make the lesson take longer and some students are frustrated when I won't answer their question. I'm hoping that the more I use my new rule students will become used to it and the frustration will subside for both them and myself. For now I just keep telling myself to walk away and let them think.