Monthly Archives: March 2013

on blogging – part two


Making my writing public, so that the world knows what I have to say about education, schools, learning, and teaching has helped me grow as a teacher. It has also shown me how little I know. I’m on an island in the middle of my classroom, while there’s a world out there with teachers that have taught thousands of students, and combined, millions, if not more. I’m struggling to teach eighteen and to make it count.


Teachers have commented and liked (!) my blog. I’m sure they understand I’m a beginner, but their comments and likes make me feel like I’m on the right track. Occasionally, I comment on a blog (see: Cliff Mass) that incites the teacher passion I have within, because something was wrong on the internet! I got fired up, blogged, commented, shared, talked, and got more and more people incited, all because someone wrote something on the web.


To feel that power, and intensity, the hive gathering on its prey, to speak truths, undoubtedly unperturbed by his position, by Mass, I say blogging is here to stay. Do I not sense that there could be moments where hours are not kind, and words do not flow like wine? Constant blogging, setting aside that brief moment to write something that I myself do not have time to read, and then gather more information whilst waiting for my morning java? How do I take it, that these teachers pour their very souls thereunto the world, their students, and the community? How can I not partake?


These posts, here and here, show my growth as a blogger, because they started a conversation. The latter post is the infamous Cliff Mass response, and the former is the trend in finding out what the students are learning, and how do we know. I don’t think anything though could top the Mass post because the conversation crossed over (to Mass’ blog). My comment can also be found on his blog.


Outside my cohort I have received comments here, of which I have also commented outside the cohort.


Blogging, onward!


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Testing Teachers

Testing Teachers

Reading this article, I really think Cliff Mass is missing the mark on a few points:


1. The testing process to become a teacher is much more than the West B. There’s the West E and the EdTPA.

2. Math content knowledge is sorely lacking, but there is (at least at UWB) a much more comprehensive look into how math works, the multiple ways to solve equations, and why it works. Dividing fractions is simple, but why it works is pretty interesting. Can you prove Pythagoras’s Theorem Algebraically  Geometrically, and beyond? Personally, I have gone beyond Calculus, Linear Algebra, Matrix Algebra, but deep understanding of math isn’t enough to be able to teach it. How many college professors in mathematics could teach fifth graders?

3. What is the purpose of math? Are we training excellent calculators? We have programs like wolframalpha that can solve very complex problems. There are innumerable computer calculation tools. Is computation more important than problem solving? Understanding why we use mathematics is becoming more and more important. Algorithms and math facts are on the way out, because they don’t take number sense, and instead rely on following steps that calculators already far exceed in speed and accuracy.


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high cognition; high participation




In the demands of a math class (or any class for that matter) I really want to push my students to work out new ideas. I wanted to draw them and release them with new ways to think about the world. I started with a worksheet and the steps to master the topic, but I had to make it worth my students’ time. I had a basic lesson plan that (for my field instructor) looked a little too by the book. I won’t lie, it was a pedestrian effort at first. I was tired, I had several other lessons to plan. I had a lot to plan. I had a lot of homework, but really, there’s no excuse.


So I went over the lesson plan again. And again. And again, again and again.


How could I get more students to participate, and have them actually have to use their noggins? Hand raising only goes so far. It has to be relevant to the lesson. Pair share (turn and talk) is better, but there isn’t as much accountability (until I have super teacher hearing). What to do?


This was a lesson on graphing on coordinates. In reality, as long as the students know the number line (or at least how to count), there isn’t much to graphing coordinates.


(x,y) (go over, go up) (run then fly) (etc, etc, etc)


I used the ActivBoard to get students up there working towards graphing points, then describing coordinates. I got most students up to participate, and held students accountable when they made mistakes (negatives were sometimes an issue). But I still wanted to get everyone up, but how?


I was thinking about the lesson all morning before the observation, and then it hit me. How do I get everyone participating? Make them the coordinate points! Make the room the graph. It would have the students apply their knowledge, superimpose it onto the room, and find their spots. It worked flawlessly. I could see (!) where everyone was in the classroom, literally. There couldn’t have been a better formative assessment. And then when there was a summative assessment on graphing a few days later, everyone got it.


(The launch for the lesson was pretty good too, it started with a talk about newton, dropping a baseball, students timing it, and putting those points on a graph and looking at its motion over time, cool stuff)

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