Friday, April 26, 2013

What We Learned This Semester

It is the final week of classes so it is my turn to write the blog post—unfortunately it will be the last post until January 2014.  I will continue this blog the next time the course is offered.

This is the first time that I have taught this course by myself.  Recently someone said that a teacher should ask “what have they learned?” rather than “what have I taught?”  This class is definitely a good class to ask the first question since I don’t think that I have really taught my students anything.  However, I am fairly certain that they have learned lots of things.  So, with their permission, here are their answers to the question, “what have they learned in Math 371?”

From Leanne Holdorf:
Of all my classes this semester, Math 371 is by far my favorite. I was able to dabble in technology that I didn't think I'd have access to for a while. We explored different programs and applications that will help me as a teacher. And I really started to understand why technology is so important. It captivated me and made me excited to learn more. That's what technology is meant to do in a classroom. It is not simply there to make life a little easier but to also engage students in new and different ways.

From Kaitlin Ward:
I have learned how to use Ipads effectively in the classroom. I have learned what apps I might use in my classroom, and what apps I know I won't use because I didn't find them very useful. In addition, I have learned more about what different schools are going one to one. I have learned how to create videos that I could use if I choose to do flipped instruction. I have learned how to use programs like Voice Thread to help make my lessons more engaging. Overall, I feel like I have a better grasp on different programs and apps that I can use to help engage my students in the classroom.

From Jackie Currier:
     In math 371 I have learned how to use different technology in ways that apply to the classroom. We learned how to use a ti-nspire, using it in a classroom activity so all students can follow along, how to connect it to the smart board, and how to export the calculator work and print it to use in your class. We learned how to use an iPad mini in many different classroom settings, from homework and class work management software to in class activities we won't over dozens of different ways to use the iPads. We also learned how to make an online survey, since you showed us making the app rubric.
     We also learned some probability and statistics, since that is what content we used to make all these technological activities. Though we may have skimmed the statistics part and stuck to the probability part. However we became much more familiar with the standards for probability and statistics for both middle school and high school.

From Dillon Johnson:
I'm not sure if I can state exactly what I've learned, but I do know that much of what I learned came from our discussions.  I think hearing other students’ perspectives on apps or different technologies and their reasoning gave me my best learning as they look at things much differently than I do. 

So, what have I learned as the instructor of the course?  I have learned:
·         Lacking a detailed plan doesn’t mean that learning won’t occur.
·         Classroom discussions are a meaningful instruction method.
·         It is okay to get off topic once in a while.
·         Direct instruction is my least favorite teaching technique.
·         My students probably taught me more than I taught them.
This class has been a lot of fun and I am already thinking of changes to make the next time I teach it!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Joining the Network

As I sit here typing on the mini iPad provided by the math department for the semester, I have begun to realize just how easy it is to join the network with one tap by my finger. Of course, the World Wide Web is not my only network. As teachers, we are privy to an incredible amount of resources by just being who we are! From having classes with peers in the same education program to being members of national clubs such as the National Education Association, we have a network more valuable than many of us really understand until much later in our careers.

To really put this into perspective, a few weeks ago on an online program, I was able to have a conversation about flipped instruction, one-to-one schools, and Common Core with a high school math teacher in California. As a soon to be teacher, I was eager to hear what he had to share about his many years of teaching. Not only did I learn from him but he learned from me! The network and flow of information does not only go from older to younger teachers, but useful information can come from either direction. Yet another example is my brother. He is finishing his first year of teaching high school math in Nebraska. On many occasions, he has asked for my opinions on certain lessons, and I know that some time in the future, I will ask him questions. In this sense, my network is close to home. But we have to remember that as teachers, we have more than just family that might be teachers. We have more than those people we spent hours studying with to pass a final in the education program. We have more than our advisors who have shown us what we need to know. We have more than the other teachers in our school (or district). We have every teacher in the state or the country or even the world that is willing to share their knowledge. And in my experience (however limited), teachers are almost always willing to pass information. After all, our job is to inform.

I cannot begin to describe just how many people I have met or become friends with in my professional network. Honestly, I am constantly surprised by how many people I have available to talk to about my future career. Better yet, I know that my network of support will forever increase as long as I am a teacher. That is such a comforting feeling to know that no matter the problem, I will always have a pluthera of people to talk to about it. So remember that you will always have someone to discuss with. Luckily, social networks like Facebook, Google Plus, Linked In, and others are always at the touch of our fingertips.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Society's view on math

I read the article “Mathematics Education: A Way Forward” by David Wees, ,
and it started with the equation:
 Population × Bad curriculum Multiple generations = Functionally innumerate population.
Which is such a true statement, that we don’t always think about. The adult population, of American as well as Canada, has a generally bad experience with math. Not only was it a boring subject in school, they were also told by their parents that it is okay to hate math. I believe that it is critical that we realize that as a society Americans don’t like math, as future and current math teachers we need to foster an environment where it is easy to like math. Though this article is about Canadian math education, I think it applies to American math education as well. This article focuses on three ways to make math more enjoyable and beneficial to society. The three ways are: changing the curriculum to real-life problem solving situations, making the material relevant, and boosting engagement.

            The first way, changing the curriculum, is currently being partially done for us. With the common core standards going into effect students are seeing many more problem solving style questions and being asked to explain their reasoning for their work. In this way we are already addressing the first problem. The second part of this, however, is to do problem solving in our classrooms. Whether it’s projects, homework questions, or our lectures, we can incorporate problem solving skills into our classroom.

            The second way is making the material relevant. To me this is the reason most students begin to not like math, they are not shown any uses for it and cannot find any themselves. A feeble application of mathematics is almost worse than none at all because it is seen as a confirmation that there are no uses for math; that the teacher is grasping at straws to come up with an application for the math they are learning. Honestly some students will never use calculus or trigonometry, but some students also won’t use poetry. It isn’t showing that all math can be used by everyone, the important thing is showing that all math has a use or purpose other than “it’s on the test”.

            The final way is boosting engagement, this ties in with making the material relevant. By making the content relate to the students you greatly increase their interest, and their desire to learn. Even little things, like using students’ names in problems engage that student more. But bigger things, like relating the material to their hobbies or making fun activities that use the material, can have a huge effect on a student’s desire to learn. When a student wants to learn, they can move mountains; when they do not want to learn you cannot make them.

            I see these three things as highly important to us changing society’s view on math, one student at a time. I would like to eventually have a society where it isn’t okay to hate math the way that it isn’t okay to hate English, the way that it isn’t okay to dislike grocery stores. Many other teachers and I would like to have a culture where math is just another tool in our tool belt that we can use to solve daily problems. This is the change in society that I would like to see.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Because the Math Gods Say It Is So!

     So often, students evaluate problems by following the steps their secondary Math teachers told them to follow, but never actually realize why they are doing it. I am guilty of doing this. Last week, I was tutoring a student on factoring by grouping, and I just realized what we are really doing when we factor. For example, when you are given the following equation:
We look at the first two terms and factor out the GCF (greatest common factor). Then we do the same process for the last two terms. Now, the (x+2) becomes a factor and then the remaining terms become the other factor of (3x^2+4). That is how we got the last line, but what I realized last week was that we actually factor out the GCF again. This time the GCF is (x+2) and then (3x^2+4) is what is left after you factor out the GCF, and this is how you get your two factors by grouping. I never realized that we were actually just factoring out the GCF again. I just always thought if the two ( ) were the same then they became one and then the remaining terms created the other factor. 

   This happens all the time in Math. The students follow a process, but they don't actually understand why they are doing it. Their secondary Math teachers just told them that it was done this way because they said so, or because that is how the book says to do it. As educators, we need to have our students discover processes of solving problems on their own. By doing so, they will be able to observe the steps in a more in depth manner, and they will be able to understand the why rather than just the process. I hope that as a future educator, I will be able to help my students make these connections and help them create a more conceptual understanding.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Don't Be Afraid To Fail / Be a Learner

As a future teacher, I constantly have the same thoughts reappear in my head. "Should I use this technology or that technology?" "Which app is best for this task?" "What activity would be best for this lesson?"  Seriously, how do you really know?  I have finally come to the realization that at some point you simply have to let loose and go with what you feel.  Yes, it is important as a teacher to do your research to make sure you don't pick a "dud" app or do an activity that doesn't apply to the lesson.  I am simply saying that I am not going to exhaust my time finding out every little detail.

I am already dreading the first year I actually start teaching.  I know that my 8 hour school day will turn into a 12+ hour work day.  That's just the simple fact of being a first year teacher (or any teacher).  Thus, my time needs to be spent on preparing the lesson and not debating on how to teach it.  With that said, I can expect to fail.  A lesson I work really hard on and thought was brilliant will turn out to be disliked by a majority of the students.  This will be discouraging and feel like time wasted, but it is something I must accept and move on from.  There is always the next lesson, chapter, and year to try something different. All the risks and failures will be worth it when one of our lessons really "hits home" with our students.  Then we have a base to build off of.  Even veteran teachers should expect to fail at times, as they should continually be trying new "things" as well.

It is also important to remember that while we have the classification as "the teacher", we are still learners.  I'll be the first to admit that I am hesitant to try new things at times because I'm not sure of how to use them, which is silly.  Students are starting to use technology at the kindergarten level, so it is idiotic to think that by middle school they don't have knowledge to give us about using some of the technologies in the classroom.  Be open to letting them teach you how to use them and do some learning!

This blog is simply a reminder that our students are unique, and the ways we are able to teach them are becoming extremely unique.  Don't be afraid to try something new, and just because something didn't work for another teacher doesn't mean it won't work for you and your students.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

MOOCS: Massive Open Online Courses

MOOCS have become increasingly popular over the years.  I think these courses resemble flipped instruction in the way that they are lectures online.  The students can access them whenever they want and can watch the lecture numerous times so they can understand the material.  This can be extremely helpful for some students.  There can be as many as 15,000 students enrolled in one class learning from one teacher.  They may be able to contact each other and help each other with the material.  To me, Khan Academy is similar to MOOCS also, except that it is not a class.  It provides students with videos that run through examples in many classes in science and math.  Also, MOOCS=$FREE.  How can any college student go wrong with that?  With the rising costs of college tuition, students look for any way to get anything for free.  I know I would take a MOOC, if they actually counted for college credit.  I believe some college students will enroll in MOOCS in addition to their paid college courses for more help.

I do have some concerns with MOOCS though and student/teacher interaction is one of them.  If there is a classroom of 15,000 students how is one teacher supposed to help all of them if they all have a question?  Your inbox would be overflowing with emails and I would not know where to start.  Maybe I have some more to research on MOOCS, but I think that student/teacher interaction would be difficult.  Another concern is that MOOCS are not accepted at many places for college credit since they are free.  One could essentially learn all the same material as a student who paid for school, but they do not officially have a degree since they did not pay for it.

MOOCS take a tremendous amount of time to prepare, as many as 100 hours of hard work before the semester starts.  These hours are unpaid since they are not paid for by students, unless the teacher  is doing it as a side job.  I think it is great that teachers want to provide college students with a free education and I would definitely do that if I was still able to support my family.  I think education could solve this if they just made college tuition cheaper.  I believe this would give students a better opportunity to enter college, and they could integrate MOOCS in some way.  If anyone has any ideas I think it would be worth exploring.

All in all I think MOOCS are a great idea.  It is just that universities do not necessarily accept them for credit since they were not paid for.  We are in a rapidly changing time for education and a free education is something students want.  Will we ever have a free college education? Maybe?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Educational Technology: Leveling the Playing Field

Throughout this course and throughout this blog, we have identified several reasons why technology should be used in a math classroom. These reasons have been anything from increasing student engagement, to more individualized education, to the availability of millions of different educational tools in the palm of your hand. All of these reasons highlight the overwhelming positives of having technology in the classroom. However, I really think if I had to sum it all up into one reason, I would say that educational technology levels the playing field.

What I mean when I say that it levels the playing field is that it allows all parties involved to have the same opportunities of anyone else in education. This includes students, teachers, parents, administrators, and the general public. I will go into more depth on some of these.

The most important of all the people educational technology affects is, of course, the students. Educational technology has opened new doors to countless opportunities that many students never had before. It used to be that if a student was bad at arithmetic, all he/she could do is do the same types of practice problems over and over until hopefully something clicked. Now, with all the apps, games, videos, and online tutors, students have a vast amount of resources at their finger tips. No longer are students handicapped by the information that is available to them. This has certainly leveled the playing field in the sense that all students now have access to information that they can use to better themselves in the math classroom.

Technology has also certainly leveled the playing field for teachers. With all of the blogs, videos, and apps out there for teaching, the sharing of ideas has become part of the profession. It used to be that if a teacher had a great lesson idea or way of explaining a concept, that idea only circulated to other teachers if it were by word of mouth or a workshop. Now, though, a teacher can post a really cool lesson idea one day, and the next day there could be hundreds of teachers around the world using that same lesson. In order to create a better world, we must educate our students to the highest of our ability levels. The sharing of great lessons and ideas contributes to the overall goal of education, which is to provide all students with the best education possible. Another way that technology has leveled the playing field is by providing more resources for teachers to use in order to create more authentic activities. As we move into the era of Common Core, we all know that we are striving for more authentic activities to create real-world relevance for our students. Before technology, students were handcuffed by the textbooks to either use their examples or completely come up with a new idea all on their own. Now, teachers have access to millions of activities that they can use to create relevance for any topic imaginable.

Educational technology is now involving parents in ways that were never possible before. For starters, now a lot of schools post grades online, which parents can check at any point. This allows parents to stay up to date with how their children are doing in school. New apps, games, and toys are now available for parents to purchase that keep their children both entertained, but also learning important mental skills. Also, before if a student would come home with an algebra assignment and the parents didn't know how to do it, the parents would either try to fumble through the textbook trying to understand it themselves, or just say they don't know how to do it and not help. With the emergence of online tutorial videos and apps, however, parents and their children can sit down and watch/do these things together so that they can both learn and try to understand the concept.

Educational technology has also been a huge help to administrators, as new information of teaching strategies, educational studies, and new technology is right at their fingertips. No longer do they have to feel like they are lagging behind other schools, because most schools will have the same types of opportunities through technology.

As you can obviously tell, I am a huge proponent of educational technology. I believe it is where our educational system is headed, and those who embrace it will be ahead of the game. However, I am not naive to the point where I don't see some flaws with technology in the classroom. I think finding the right balance is the most important facet of implementing technology in the classroom. That being said, I don't feel that the fear of something not working perfectly right away should stop you from trying it. There will be some bumps along the way, but I believe in the end that educational technology in the classroom and at home is necessary to level the playing field for all parties involved in education.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Flexibility and Humility

All semester in the Math Technology class I have been telling students that the most important quality to have as a teacher is to be flexible.  This is probably even more important with all of the latest technology.  We all know that technology doesn’t always work so you need to be flexible and handle a hiccup in your plan well.  Of course, this means that you should probably always have a back-up plan.
As I am approaching the end of my 20th year of teaching, another quality that I think is very important to have is humility.  I am pretty certain that I didn’t always have a lot of that in my early years of teaching, and I don’t think that I was a very good teacher then.  While it is essential to be the content expert in your classroom, you should not take that as a ticket to be arrogant.  There is a difference between confidence and arrogance.  Think back to any teachers that you had that you disliked; do they have anything in common?  Were they arrogant? 
Here are 10 signs of arrogance, .  Read this closely and you will see that several of them are things that a teacher should never do: 
2.  Avoid eye contact.  As a teacher, eye contact is a must to make connections with your students and to determine if students understand the material.
4.  Use condescending phrases and put-downs.  Never put down your students as then they will no longer participate in class.  Participation is the key to student engagement.
6.  Interrupt conversations...frequently.  Never interrupt a student who is offering an idea on how to solve a problem.  Be courteous to everyone even if they are incorrect.  You can politely tell them they are wrong, such as, “that is an interesting idea, but I don’t think it will work.”
7.  Have an answer for everything.  Class should be more about questions than answers.  How will students learn if you don’t let them find their own answers?
10.  Blame someone else.  If you make a mistake, own it.  Students will have more respect for you if you can admit that you are wrong.  And trust me, you will be wrong!
I am truly enjoying teaching the Math Technology course this semester.  I think that both flexibility (I don’t have the semester outlined) and humility ( I admit when I don’t know something) have played a role in my enjoyment of the course. 
My last bit of advice to a teacher is to plan to learn from your students—they have taught me more this semester than I have taught them.  This is yet another reason that I enjoy the class.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Math Mindset

For quite some time, I have thought about how I will be able to engage my students in learning. It seems that many students do not want to participate or try in math classes because of one reason or another. Too often I hear people say that they are "just not good at math" or that they cannot "do math" because their parents were not good at it. I want to make sure my students do not have that mindset.

To me, it seems that there is a difference in the way people think about math versus other subjects. In my experience, people believe that there are two types of students: those who can do math and those who cannot. Of course, I do not believe this. I believe that everyone can "do math" as long as they put some effort into it. Whenever I think about the different learning styles and when people say that math is not their subject, I think about how it's different than other subjects. Math is just another subject in school. Sure it has to deal with numbers and abstract concepts sometimes (Oh and don't forget when they start adding in letters!), but really, is it any different than any other subject? You still have to learn how to use proper grammar for English or wait the correct amount of time for a note in music or recognize different movements based on the time period in history. Even after years upon years of math classes, I still have to learn how to do some concepts in math. No one is immune to the necessity of learning.

As we grow older, certain subjects can seem easier and others harder but the purpose of school, of subjects, is to discover what you need to learn and help you learn. This is where the concept of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset comes in handy. It takes a certain mindset to succeed, no matter what the objective is. If our students are set on the fixed, I-can't-do-it-because-it's-math mindset, they could potentially hold onto that poor self-concept in other parts of life.

At the 2013 SDSTA/SDCTM joint conference, I discussed fixed and growth mindsets with some teachers in the field. We all agreed that one of the most dangerous ideas in terms of learning math is having a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. It's the idea of "I don't know this stuff and I never will" versus "I don't know this stuff but I can learn." Building off this is one of my favorite phrases: confidence is key. You have to be able to believe in yourself and your capacity for learning otherwise you'll remain fixed rather than expanding what you know.

The big question is: How do we get our students to recognize the difference between the two mindsets and encourage them to grow?

I don't think I have an answer for this cosmic question. In fact, I don't know if I will ever have a perfect answer. Will anyone ever be able to come up with some formula to solve this mystery?

The problem is that there cannot be a fixed answer. Our classrooms and our students are dynamic. All we can do is encourage students to keep a growth mindset and show them that yes, they can figure out how long it takes Train B to catch up to Train A.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking at the Common Core Standards from a prospective teacher's point of view!

   Wow! Looking at the Common Core Standards there is a lot of "stuff" that we are going to be required to teach our students in a short amount of time. In some schools, teachers will be required to teach twice the amount of information in the same amount of time that they were given before the new standards. On top of having more to cover in the same amount of time, we will be evaluated on how well our students do on the Smarter Balance test that covers the Common Core Standards. It is quite overwhelming! In this blog, I am going to talk about some of the things I am worried about with the standards, and some of the reasons why I am glad we are all switching to common standards.

   First of all, I will talk briefly about what I am worried about with the new standards. Like many, I am worried about not having enough time to teach everything, and I don't want to have to make the decision to leave something out when everything is equally important. There are so many new technologies and activities that I would like to use in my classroom, but I am worried that with the amount of material I will need to cover I won't have time to enrich my lesson plans with technology and in depth discovery. In addition, I have mixed feelings about having the students take the Smarter Balance tests online. I want my students to work out the problems and show me the steps they have to take to get the answer, and I am not completely sold on how doing the tests online will encourage this.

   Secondly, I will discuss why I am glad we are all switching to Common Core Standards. Growing up in a HS of about 800 students, I had a lot of opportunities to take a range of Math courses. We had courses from Pre-Algebra to AP Calculus. Although we were given the opportunity to take these courses, some of the topics that should have been covered in our Algebra 2 class weren't covered until Pre-Calculus, and most students don't make their way up to that high of a math. One of the topics that wasn't taught until later was the topic of matrices. These were not taught until Pre-Calculus, even though there are matrices on the ACT. As a student, this was frustrating because there was a topic on the math portion of the ACT that I hadn't even heard of before, and I felt like my HS didn't prepare me well enough to take the test. I believe that it will be beneficial for all of us to follow the Common Core Standards because we will all be taught the same material. So when we go into national  tests, like the ACT, we will all be on the same playing field. In addition, I look forward to what our math programs will be like in 10 years. I think as educators we are all overwhelmed right now but the amount of information we are going to be required to teach our students, but I believe in the long run the common standards are going to be a wonderful thing in our school systems. Of course, the transition years are going to be rough, but we can only go up from there. :)

   In conclusion, whether we are worried, overwhelmed, excited, or complaisant about the new Common Core Standards, as educators we all need to band together and help each other walk through this changing time. We are all going to stumble and fall, but if we help each other get back up we can grow and succeed together.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Math Education Criticisms

     So I googled "math education" to see if any interesting blogs popped up, and honestly I was surprised. There were so many instant results that simply criticized  math education and didn't offer any realistic solution. The first one I read I couldn't even finish, it referred to math as soul crushing and I just couldn't keep reading that article.
     The next article I read wasn't quite so, let's say 'mean spirited' toward math education but still highly critical. Here's the link: . On the FAQs page it talks about how as teachers we only teach "computing" and not enough mathematical thinking, they suggest using computers to replace the hand calculations. But they do not take into account that computers, calculators, or any other technology that solves math for a student doesn't help them understand the "mathematical thinking" for that question.
     The article suggests that learning how to do the hand calculations is irrelevant, and students only need to know how to set up a problem. They do not take into account that without solving the problem students don't learn from their mistakes as easily. Without doing the hand calculations students don't learn the mathematical concepts. Its like saying that students shouldn't be allowed to learn math in a concrete way or with specific examples but should be restricted only to the abstract thought that math involves.
      This article states "computers should be used for computing and students should learn concepts, applications, and interpretation and validation skills from teachers" but they don't realize that as teachers we do teach all of those things. We teach concepts on a daily basis, reinforcing them with real world applications. We ask students to validate their work by asking them to explain their work. We make students interpret word problems and computational work for their meaning. All of these things happen in a mathematics classroom today.
     I can't think that they are referring to a classroom twenty years ago either. The technology may be changing, but the math curriculum hasn't been altered enough much to say these things were missing before. Even my math teacher in high school, who taught geometry, pre-calculus and calculus every year the exact same way, for multiple decades, covers "concepts, applications, and interpretation and validation skills" in her class on a daily basis.
     I think this criticism is excessive, I think it is uncalled for, but I also think we need to be aware of the level of criticism we face as math teachers.  How easy is it to blame the teacher for any student who doesn't excel at math, even if that student doesn't try, doesn't attend class, or maybe just shouldn't be in that level of a math class. It is very easy to blame the teacher, but I don't think the teacher deserves it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

So Many Devices, So Little Use

In this article by Howard Pitler, he shares data gathered by McREL, which has a classroom tool called Power Walkthrough.  They gathered information from more than 60,000 classrooms that use this tool.  They went into classrooms to see what kinds of technology were being used and how often they were used by both teachers and students.  Graphing calculators, interactive whiteboards, document cameras, online software, and many other similar technologies were recorded.  If any of these technologies were used even briefly, they recorded the classroom as having used technology.  Their studies revealed that in 63 percent of their observations of teachers, no technology was utilized.  This number increased to 73 percent for students utilizing no technology.

In an era where emphasis has been put into using technology to educate our students, these numbers seem appalling.  In many of these situations, the teachers had easy access to use technology.  It was their decision to simply not use the technology.  The main reason for this was their lack of confidence in being able to use the technology appropriately.  For example, some teachers in the Midwest were taught how to use a technology at a workshop.  They were excited to go back to their classrooms and use this technology, but their software was slightly different and they were not able to use it the way they had been taught.

By this point, all of us have had plenty of experiences with learning new technologies.  The process can be very frustrating and time consuming.  The blame for teachers not being able to use the technologies appropriately falls onto the school administrators and the teachers themselves.  School administrators cannot expect a teacher to be able to learn how to use an Interactive Whiteboard from one training session. But teachers cannot expect to be able to use the Interactive Whiteboard without experimenting with it on their own time.  The best way we learn how to use a new technology is through experimenting.

School administrators need to provide teachers with better training, and teachers need to be more committed to learning how to use the tools provided to them.  Research has shown that using technology is the key to educating the students of today.  So, as teachers, we are obligated to make sure we are prepared to teach in such a way.

Below is the link to the article.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Whiteboards for Dummies and YouTube Education Channels

The article "Whiteboards for Dummies" was very interesting because I did not know that there was that many things you could do with an interactive whiteboard.  The teacher in the article plays a game with his students where they get to throw a koosh ball at the board and then questions pop up when they hit certain objects.  He uses this to help them with their vocab words.  I think this is a great way for his students to actively learn in his classroom.  It makes learning fun and interactive and the technology is used to it's full potential.  Sometimes technology can hinder the learning process if it is used incorrectly, and this activity definitely does the opposite.  The students get more engaged because this is a complete new way of learning their vocab words other than the standard way of  writing them down and defining them.   The students get to associate images with the words and get asked questions about each word.  The article also addresses the  fact that technology is only as good as it's user.  This is a great point because if a teacher does not know how to use a piece of technology well, they will not be able to use it to its full potential.  It directly speaks to the issue of school districts not having enough training opportunities for their teachers about new technology.  Teachers may get an interactive whiteboard and never use it because they do not get properly trained.  The biggest obstacle is making sure the technology is helping the students learn, not hindering them, and this is where workshops come in.

The second article lists the top twelve YouTube education channels for teachers and students.  It lists channels for all age groups and provides three or four channels for each.  I chose to look at the K-12 section, focusing on the ones that are more for high school and middle school.  The two listed were Space Lab and Khan Academy.  Space Lab is filled with great videos talking about many aspects of space.  It provides updates about the space world and they address the rumors about space happenings.  I think this would be a great channel for students to use for projects since it has so much valuable information.  Khan Academy is the next channel that I looked at.  I have used Khan Academy before to help with my homework and I think it is a great channel.  Sal Khan does a great job teaching how to solve certain problems and I think this is a great resource for students.  There are an extreme amount of videos to choose from and I think students really benefit from his videos.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Board of Remediation

Link: Board of Remediation

1. The website features an idea to help students with lower level concepts. If students are struggling with basic concepts that were covered in previous classes below their current class, they can go to the wall and pick out a worksheet to help understand those lower level concepts.

2. Using this on-the-wall system, students can grab any worksheets they want or need and complete them on their own time rather than having the entire class use teaching time to refresh lower-level concepts. There is also a binder of answer keys to each worksheet next to the wall.

3. The website was helpful because it gave me an idea that I could possibly use in the future if I see that my students do not understand concepts that they should have mastered.

4. Yes, I would  use this idea. I think it would be a great way to get students into the idea of practicing what they don't know. This way, they can see where they need to improve and make the move to actually improve.

5. I would like to blog because it is obviously a great way to connect with other teachers and share ideas. However, I worry that I will not have enough time to commit to blogging.

Link: my classroom

1. This site describes the same setup as the last site but adds that his students actually requested the worksheets. I thought that was unique.

2. Because it was the same idea, I looked at some of the links within the post on this blog and found some other interesting ideas such as using the print screen function to share Geogebra graphs and his use of participation points.

3. Yes, it was helpful. Although I wish he had a followup post about the success or failure of the wall. He mentioned that he had not yet tried the idea so I wonder if he will post something about it.

4. I could definitely use the ideas from this site and the rest of his blog. He seems to have quite a network going with many links to different blogs and ideas.

5. See previous.

Blogging Overview

Continuous Everywhere, but Differentiable Nowhere

The content is comprised of either motivational “keep your chin up” posts or projects/activities dealing                mostly with upper level high school math (pre calc and calc). Most of the projects or activities that he posts deal with technology, so I feel like if you are teaching calc or anything calc related, there could be some cool things to take form this blog. I think some of the activities look really interesting, but I believe the blog is only really helpful if you are teaching upper level high school math. With the activities and the motivational posts. I know some days will be tough, so this could help keep me going. Possibly. Probably not as a beginning teacher, as I will be swamped just trying to survive. Maybe as I become more of a veteran and feel that I have valuable things to share I will get into it.

Crafty Math

1    Mostly tips and tricks that she has used herself in the classroom. Also some interesting articles related to math and teaching. She has some cool lesson ideas, but she also has some interesting articles posted. The humor in her writing is also a plus. I think the blog is entertaining and all around useful. It isn’t a very subject-centered blog,  but more so just a math ed blog. I enjoyed looking at the articles. She posts some good lessons that I could use in my classroom. 

Blogging Assignment Overview

This site is dedicated to a group of math teachers who use twitter and who blog.  They have formed a community and share ideas with each other.  They have become friends.  It is a place to get great ideas and share great ideas with other math teachers.

It is important as a teacher to get new ideas and one of the best ways to do this is to follow other math teachers on Twitter and read other math teachers’ blogs.  Maybe someday you will be one of the math teachers that people are following and getting ideas from—how cool would that be?
There is a list of suggested people to follow, based on their interest areas.  This is going to be helpful and provide me some new blogs to watch and people to follow on Twitter.
There was some great advice on privacy concerns on Twitter and with Blogging.

One of the best pages was “Cool Things we have done together.”  This is a great resource of people to follow on Twitter and blogs to read.  I am about to start a blog—maybe later this semester.  I certainly love how the Technology blog is going so far.

  This is the blog of Sam Shah, Math Teacher.  “Continuous everywhere but differentiable nowhere.”  He also has a lot of information about himself—basically he has created an electronic portfolio on here.  There is more and more talk about what your electronica persona is—do you have one?  Do you want one?

I was searching through the site and found the following two subsites helpful and something that we may want to look at in class,

Yes, I think that it makes me wonder about my internet presence and do I want to have one.  Have you googled yourself—what comes up?  Is it more than just your Facebook page?

Yes, again it makes me wonder if I should create a blog and create an electronic presence.  Of course, the questions that I am asking is, “Do I know enough to do this?  Do I truly have information to contribute that would help other teachers?”

Explains a process that Sam Shah created to help other teachers begin blogging.  He emailed them a prompt each week.  This was a 4-week process, where they were sent a prompt each week.  The number of people responding each week decreased as the 4 weeks went on.

I think, like many of you, I am worried about blogging and what to say.  This website with the email prompts has reassured me that you are not being judged by what you say.  A blog isn’t so much about other people as it is an opportunity for you to reflect on yourself and your teaching. 

A blog may not be something that you want to tackle your first year as you will be so busy, but it might be something to do your second year.  Of course, it might be interesting to have both the first year and then the second year you can go back and reflect on things you have changed.

A Physics/Math teacher in Iowa has switched from normal grading to standards based grading.  He talks about what Standards-Based grading means and his journey to do it.   This idea places the emphasis on learning rather than the grade.  I completely agree with it.

Standards-Based Grading allows students to “re-do” quizzes.  I have been opposed to this idea for some time, but after reading this website, it actually makes sense to me.  I have always been a teacher that focuses on learning rather than the grade.  If I really want to know if a student learned a concept, why not let them demonstrate that to me later (retake the quiz).  I think that this website may have changed my view on things.