updates for 05.03.2012
Funniest quote of the day…
A student asked my co-teacher, “Where does the Sun go in the winter?”
If this was a kindergarten class, I would think the question was really cute. Since the student is 15, not 5, and was present for the month long unit which we discussed outer space, including an activity on seasons, I’m not as amused. Still when I heard it, I just turned away and silently burst into laughter. You can’t survive in this profession without being able to just laugh once in awhile.
Today's Do Now to start math class:
Last night Ms. S. saw a post on Facebook that made her laugh:
'83% of girls would not care if Niall dropped out of One Direction. Re-post if you're one of the 27% of girls who would fall on the floor crying!'
What is wrong with this statement? (Hint: think about math!)True story, and this was actually perfect timing because we need to review percents a bit more before the last standardized math test. I even had "What Makes You Beautiful" playing when they walked in the room from the buses. My kids are already aware of my obsession with "Call Me Maybe," so they weren't all that surprised by the song. However, when they saw that the Do Now mentioned One Direction, most of the girls were freaking out. The first volunteer to answer the question confidently stated that it was wrong because "Niall wouldn't really drop out of One Direction!" I think the girls were then overly distracted by the question of whether this Niall guy actually would drop out of their favorite band, but a few of my boys figured out the correct answer pretty quickly.
If you're hoping for entertaining kiddo stories, sorry in advance. This post has two purposes: a healthy vent, and some curiosity about how these things work in other TFA regions (specifically numbers 1 & 2). #1: I already used up my one allowed Professional Saturday skip in December, in order to catch up on grad work and school work. I unexpectedly had to miss this month's ProSat for a family member's funeral. TFA initially told me I wouldn't be penalized, but now they've changed their mind and said the only excused absences are for school commitments and religious holidays. Crappy, yeah, but I'll suck it up and do the required 4 make-up hours of professional development before June 2nd (somewhere in all my free time), because I want my Americorps grant and TFA knows it. It's just the principle of the thing. Anyone have a similar experience in another region? My region is still relatively new, and I feel like they make up a lot of policies on the fly. #2: I've just about had it with TFA's school partner for licensure in Minnesota. 90% of the program is busywork, and the thought of spending 2 nights per week in grad classes for another full year (5:30- 9pm!) absolutely kills me. Not to mention the countless hours I'll never get back spent on "reading summaries" and "personal reflections." I'm trying everything possible to get ahead on coursework during the summer, but the school only offers regular master's program classes instead of the special TFA ones, and they're twice as many credits/twice as expensive. Sucky. I'm tempted to take the easy route and only complete the minimum amount of courses required to get through my 2nd year with a provisional license. But then I'll be done with TFA without even a teacher's license to my name. (I'm still not sure if I'll want to continue teaching beyond the 2 years). Plus, I won't be able to take full advantage of the Americorps education award that TFA has me jumping through hoops for. Thoughts/advice, anyone? #3: After spending 2 days with one of my most behavior-challenged kids during standardized testing, a superior at my school has up and decided that he is beyond out of control and needs major interventions, NOW. Well cool, thanks, I only wrote him up for serious behavior incidents about 23423423 times during first semester before I realized that it was utterly pointless and I would never get any help. Funny thing is, I've more recently come to some sort of weird understanding with him where he seems to reserve his most sinister behaviors for other adults in the building who really piss him off (i.e., when he's forced to test in another room away from his friends as punishment).
"Ms. H., that test was easy." Music to my ears, this was what several of my best students told after the state algebra 1 test yesterday. I hope that this confidence is not misplaced. Scores should be back to us in the next two weeks, and I am eager to see how my students performed. I've felt a lot of personal pressure to do better than I did last year, but there are many different ways to measure "better." If this year's students average a lower score than last year's, but their growth is higher, that could be "better." If this year's students average higher, with a higher baseline, that could still be considered "better." It's probably unfair to make these kinds of comparisons because last year, I had 35 students (in two classes) for twice the amount of time I have my 21 students this year. This year's sample size, just one class, is certainly too small to draw any grand conclusions, but there is a wide range of achievement in this one class, so at least growth measures might be useful. For the rest of year, we will be doing ACT Science preparation. I hope there's not a lot of pushback over doing work even though the test is over. It will definitely come down to investment. Doesn't it always?
When I applied to TFA, I basically thought that once you get in, you're in; you would magically be certified and placed in a school with no need for further interviewing. Oops.. maybe I should have researched this a bit more beforehand. But, I made it through the difficult interviewing and placement phase... and I
By popular demand (and because I need somewhere to organize this for myself), I’m going to put up a series of posts about what I learned at the NCTM conference. If you’re a math teacher, I hope this is as valuable for you as it is for me! (If you’re not a math teacher, I promise I’ll include “NCTM Takeaway” in all the titles so you’re warned in advance. These are posts you definitely don’t have to be reading. I also promise I’ll return to regular posts soon enough.) Did you know the US Department of Education has a website dedicated to research-based best education practices? Me neither. It's at dww.ed.gov and my initial reaction is to be impressed. (I'll admit I haven't dug through it too thoroughly yet.) The fact that someone has been researching best practices and compiling them somewhere shouldn't be surprising, but I've never thought to look for this before. They have plenty of reports, and they also have professional development resources including teacher interviews, sample materials, and guides for administrators/coaches. Here's a sample, on connecting concrete with abstract in math class. It looks worth checking out. I'm sure you can tell that my focus at the NCTM conference was problem solving. Here are my notes from the Doing What Works problem solving session. Some of it will seem obvious, but I found a couple of details to be very helpful. I should preface by saying that right at the beginning, they made a little jab at the typical four or five step Problem Solving Process. That's always been the Holy Grail of any PD I've received on this before, so I was automatically surprised and intrigued when they started talking. Definition of Problem Solving - any problem that has more than one solution (meaning "way of solving" and not to be confused with "answer") and requires thought. Key Components of Teaching 1) Prepare problems and use them in whole-class instruction. Problems should sometimes be routine and sometimes non-routine for your kids, allowing them the chance to be successful before they are really pushed outside of their comfort zones. It's okay to go out of your way to ensure that students understand the problem, meaning you can address issues with context, language, or cultural differences. You might need to rephrase or completely re-contextualize to make a problem work for your kids. Make sure you've considered existing mathematical knowledge when you plan a problem. Mathinaz note - does this mean it's okay when my kids are struggling and instead of reading aloud, I tell them the problem like it's a story and add in lots of detail until it comes alive for them? It's always helpful but feels a little like a cop-out for their understanding of word problems. Are these people saying I can do that? 2) Assist students in monitoring and reflecting on their own Problem Solving Process. Model your own thinking process and self-monitoring for them. You might need to explicitly teach them to do things that seem natural to you, like how to get themselves out and start over if they find that their first strategy doesn't work. It could help to provide a list of prompts to help them monitor and reflect. (What's the story about? What's the problem asking? What do I know? How can it help? What is relevant? Is this similar to anything I've done before? What are some strategies I could try? Is my approach working? If I'm stuck, can I find another way? Does the solution make sense? How can I verify? Did my steps work, or not? What would I do differently if I tried this problem again?) Mathinaz note - when I was working on those problems I posted yesterday, I realized that I naturally evaluate my work as I go, and I found myself thinking things like, "Why did I waste so much time doing that? If I see a problem like this again, it would be way faster if I'd just done this instead." It's so important in my own process, but I never considered teaching my kids to do it too! 3) Teach kids how to use visual representations. Heavily model what you would do, and use lots of think-alouds and discussions to teach kids how to visually represent situations. Diagrams are great for everyone, but they are especially powerful for ELL students. Don't forget how to teach them how to convert back from visual to mathematical notation as well. 4) Expose kids to multiple strategies. You do need to explicitly teach different strategies, like Draw A Picture or Make An Organized List, and give them relevant problems so they can practice those strategies. Students should eventually be able to generate and share multiple strategies on their own, but that won't happen at the beginning. To start, you can have students look at eachother's work after they finish and try to re-do the problem using someone else's strategy. Teachers can also create worked-out examples for different strategies on the same problem, and have kids compare and contrast the strategies you used. Mathinaz note - I've never thought of that last sentence, and I think it's brilliant. I have taught lessons on various strategies, but never thought about how I could teach a lesson on comparing and choosing between strategies. Letting them see the details of more than one solution and discuss the merits of each is something I'm definitely going to try. 5) Help kids recognize and articulate mathematical concepts and notation. Describe relevant concepts from the problem and how they relate to the activity. Ask kids to explain each step used in a worked-out example and why it was important. Help kids to make sense of algebraic notation. Mathinaz note - you can tell I was getting tired by the end of this session, because I can tell those sentences are three different thoughts but can't really elaborate on any of them now....
More Recent Articles
|Your requested content delivery powered by FeedBlitz, LLC, 9 Thoreau Way, Sudbury, MA 01776, USA. +1.978.776.9498|