**Experience First, Formalize Later** is a teaching model where students are working collaboratively to think, to discuss, and to construct their own understanding of new content before the teacher helps students to arrive at formal definitions and formulas.

## What does it look like in the classroom?

### Learning Targets

The learning targets explain what students are expected to know, do, or understand as a result of the lesson. It is critical that the teacher is crystal clear on the goal of the lesson when planning and enacting a lesson, and the learning targets should inform all instructional decisions. Learning targets are written in student friendly language and can be presented to students either before or after the lesson, depending on the goal of the lesson. The teacher does more than simply read the learning targets to the class. They make connections to previous learning, share how this learning fits into a bigger picture, or explain why this learning is important for future learning.

### Activity

For this part of the lesson, students work in groups of three or four to experience new content through an activity. Students might be discussing a proposed scenario, collecting data, or working through a carefully sequenced set of questions designed to help students notice patterns and relationships. The student activity is designed for students to be able to do without the help of the teacher. Of course, the teacher is watching and listening in to conversations in order to formatively assess student understanding. The teacher provides **questions, cues, and prompts** (not answers!) to help push groups forward when they are stuck or have made a mistake. As students begin to finish the activity, the teacher identifies students to write their work on the board. Most often, the teacher selects student work that will easily allow them to connect the experience to the formal learning. Students write their work on the whiteboard in a single color marker (blue). **See it in action.**

### Debrief Activity

Once student responses are up on the white board, the teacher calls the whole group back together for a debrief. It is in this discussion that the teacher will help students formalize the learning. The teacher connects the student activity experience to new vocabulary, definitions, formulas, and algorithms. The formal learning is attached specifically to the experiences of the activity so that students can enhance their constructed understanding of the new content. The teacher writes all of the formal learning in a different color in the margins of the activity (see red writing below). The students add these ideas in the margins on their activity page and often think of this as the formal “notes” of the lesson. In all of the answer keys we provide on Math Medic, the teacher formal learning points are provided in the margins in a different color (red). **See it in action.**

### QuickNotes

In this part of the lesson, the teacher uses the whole experience of the activity and the formalization in the debrief to summarize the learning from the lesson. These ideas are directly linked to the learning targets. **See it in action.**

### Check Your Understanding

Now that students have arrived at some new learning, they need to be able to apply it in new contexts. Most often we have students complete these questions in pairs and sometimes we use it as an exit ticket. If we have time, we have students write solutions on the whiteboard. **See it in action.**

### Homework

We typically give students around 5-10 homework problems for each lesson. We choose problems that are closely aligned with the learning targets of the lesson. It is our belief that “less is more” here. We would rather students spend their homework time thinking deeply about just a few problems, rather than surface level thinking on many problems. Check out our homework, quizzes, and tests in the **Math Medic Assessment Platform**.

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