As parents I know it is hard when your child comes home and says we did 'nothing'. Ask your student to show you what they have done in class. Most classes will have something to show, and my students keep all of their work. I have made a great effort this year in making everything accessible here online for students, as well as in the classroom, written on the wall, written on the board, and announced numerous times. This new common core approach is new for everyone, but ultimately should give the students the ability to solve problems for themselves. This is a challenge for many students, who have had everything done FOR them in the past, but in order to get ready for high school next year, students need to be able to follow through with their own work, and figure out what they are missing or have missed. I am giving them this opportunity on a regular basis, teaching students how to help themselves.
The new way of learning is utilizing groups and teamwork in order to solve problems. I have students in different groups on a weekly basis to work on skills and practice working together. Of course I am happy to answer any students questions after they have made an initial attempt at the problem. We take notes on the skills, practice a few problems together, practice a few problems individually that we as a class discuss, then students are asked to solve problems with their teammates. If a student isn't getting their question answered, it is because they have not attempted anything at the time. I discuss this with students regularly, then of course I will help them.
The focus in class has been making mistakes, that is how we learn the best, and when students try anything, then we can discuss the decision they made and build on that to learn. I know this is challenging for many students, but they are coming around to trying the problem that we as a class have learned, and all students are working on this skill. I always ask students what they have tried, or to show me the class notes, or to show me the book example, or what have they discussed with their teammates, before I offer assistance. I am trying to help students to help themselves, of course after I have given them all of the information they need. I encourage questions every step of the way during instruction, but when doing individual work, I ask about their other resources, how have they utilized these and how have they helped themselves?
I hope this clarifies how it works in the classroom. Students have to be invested in their learning, and practice things away from the classroom, otherwise learning will not happen.
Students - how are you going to help yourself? The teacher can't do it for you, or I am not doing my job to prepare you to advance to the next level. Use my website, it has everything!