Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fundamental 5

Fundamental 5

This is a training that we did the week before school started. I was very resistent initially until some of the ideas fit into my style of teaching. I am giving it a shot!

The idea is that if you teach all five of the strategies in unison, then the lesson will be more effective and benefial for the student. It makes sense and I fill that I have some down already.

Fundamental 5:

1. Frame the Lesson - State the objective using the language of the standards, if possible; and then state the finishing product or task completed by the students. (I need to work on this.)

2. Power Zone - Teaching and working in and around the kids. (I feel like I'm an ace here. I am always in their business and constantly grading their work as we go.)

3. Frequent and Purposeful Talking - (I am working on this. I am still uncertain of it's meaning.)

4. Recognize and Reinforce - This is where a teacher recognizes and reinforces the positive behaviour with specifics. (I am very good here, but need to work on identifying the specifics-saying student's name and the behaviour.)

5. Writing Critically - (This is where I yearn to grow the most. I have been looking for strategies in this area for two years now. I finally have some answers. This is also one of my two weakest areas.)

So, how did this click into my style of teaching? Well, I already feel pretty confident in working the power zone and recognizing and reinforcing the behaviour I want to see. We talk a lot in my class about the math and create as much cross curriculur relevance as we can. The two areas that I really wanted to improve on and have for several years now is writing objectives and writing critically with kiddos. I think writing is extremely important and can make a huge difference in a student's education. And not just writing by hand, but anything that involves the proper language students should know and use. I think that writing 'critically' is the bridge from basic low level thinking to that high level thinking that is required of kids on standardized tests.

Writing scares me! It takes more forever to write an email, letter of recommendation, or even a post it note to another teacher. Don't even get me started on the scary mess that was my college english experience! I think the only place I can comfortably write is in the math journals and maybe my blog. I still read a blog entry three to four times before I post (hence, why it takes me forever to get anything out!).

So, why do I think I have found a fit in this fundamental five? Well the left side of our journals have always held a special place in the back of mind for some kind of writing, and I think I might have an idea.

We start each page with our objective or frame of the lesson on the top left page. I really try to focus on sentence structure and the verbs I use. I want kids to be able to describe what they are doing and how they are doing it using the higher levels of bloom's taxonomy.

Critical writing?

This has been the harder piece of the puzzle to fit in. I googled 'critical writing stems' and ran across some great writing stems for all subjects that are broken down into the bloom's taxonomy categories. Sometimes the question is written when we begin the lesson, and other times, the question develops throughout the lesson. I just go with the flow. For example, I couldn't think of a critical writing question for the Sets of Real Numbers lesson and thought that I would wait and see. Sure enough, while we were discussing sets and subsets, the students didn't like my ideas of relevance (classifying things using kingdom, phyllum, class, etc.) and they started coming up with their own! The next day, as a starter, I had students write or illustrate their own idea of sets and subsets. The results were random and unique to each student; it was great!!


Overall, writing the lesson objective (framework) and writing critically is a work in progress. I am able to do this much more consistently this year because I have a place to put it and the students are expecting it. We'll see how it goes.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

My First Week of School... slower than expected

I had my first several weeks of notes and assignments all planned out. I guess I thought it could be taught in one week.

It did not go as planned! (It never does.)

I used the "First Day of School" tangram for all my classes. It was a great way to determine the pace at which a class or student cuts, folds, and pastes things together. The pace of my previously taught classes is significantly more efficient than that of my new students.

The great thing about doing the reference chart on day one is that my students immediately use it without being reminded to. In Pre-Algebra, we began the year with a review of Geometry Formulas. I was concerned at first, but realized that this was a great review of basic algebra skills with something they were familiar with. And it was another way to bridge the arithmetic skills from by hand to calculator.

Every class then created a Unit Pocket for the first unit.

In Algebra 2, we started with Sets of Real Numbers. I reference the textbook partly for my information and loved the example they used-billiard balls.
For the sets and subsets of rational numbers I printed a concentric rectangles to give the look and feel of a Venn diagram. My original strategy was to teach rational numbers first and work towards natural, but my colleague suggested and explained how she teaches natural numbers first and works out towards rational. It made complete sense and it worked my kids!!
For Geometry, I have followed the original pages from older posts, but decided to add this page to clarify what happens to triangles in the different types of geometry.

This year for Taxi Cab geometry, I used google earth to show students where it originated-New York. For small town kids, this was an adventure. We then used google earth to find our small town, overlayed a sheet of posterboard on the Promethean, and tried to find the shortest route from school to the Snow Cone truck. Taxi Cab geometry was just about everyone's favorite.