Tag Archives: technology

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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building a classroom

I’m going to skip right to the point, the following is just a (pinterest free) list of ideas/necessities for building a classroom. Comment and add, please!

  • Supplies area
  • Schedule (daily, monthly, yearly, modifiable)
  • Desks (table groups)
  • Subject “wallpaper” as follows:
  1. Math – big ideas, academic language, examples/problems
  2. Literacy – books/authors, genres
  3. Science – experiments, current science topics
  4. Social Studies – artifacts, current events
  • Discipline (how to solve problems, class motto, community, notes)
  • What to do when finished with work (activities either class/teacher generated)
  • Places to sit during silent reading (variable locations temporary)
  • Meeting area (rug?)
  • Attendance/behavior (slots, sticks, techno)
  • Books/library
  • Teacher supplies/desk
  • Technology – computers, laptops, etc.
  • Student work (art/written with clips to change it weekly/monthly)
  • Number line
  • Places for backpacks/instruments/lunch
  • Current objectives
  • Safety kit
  • Water/sink
  • Bathroom pass (rubber chicken??)
  • Multiple work areas (drafting table, low table)
  • Multiple chairs (bouncy, soft, solid, spinning)
  • Super Nintendo (The kids will have been born a decade after it was released…)
  • Music (pandora?)
  • Creative spaces to work

And other things too! It’s been good looking at a variety of classrooms to get some ideas.

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“I believe that life in school must be thought of as life itself, not simply preparation for later life.” – Ayers, To Teach

 

I keep getting up in all this preparation, the training, the observing, the practicing but I have been forgetting something. There are those eternal questions, the questions that fill those late nights that seem to happen only sporadically.

 

I remember talking until dawn on countless occasions, filling the air with conversations on science and philosophy, existentialism and existence, determinism and free will. Some of the questions might seem pointless as I grow a little older every day, but they aren’t.

 

Those kind of conversations – the conversations that delve into what’s really real, what’s really important, what’s really happening and why – are so vital to the human experience. Education, that word alone carries a weight above the world. What is it? Why do we need it? What is progress? Are we better off than we were before?

 

I remember a story my dad told me when I was younger. I thought it was stupid at the time, but it has really got me thinking recently – A poor fisherman goes out fishing and meets a man who teaches him how he can pack some fish to sell. Later he tells him that with a new net and a new method he can catch even more fish and open up a shop. Eventually he can hire people to fish, pack and ship the fish. He can hire boats and crews to fish. The process is very efficient, the fisherman becomes very rich and operates his business from the city. “Now what?” asks the fisherman. The man tells him that he can retire and find a cottage and go fishing at his leisure.

 

The story didn’t make sense to me when I was young. I thought that being rich – having things was all that mattered. But I grow older everyday. I watch that a year has passed in only a moment. I went from repairing printers to married and on my way to becoming a teacher. When did this happen? How did this happen?

 

Many times I’m in class and wondering what I’m going to do next. Or I’m out of class and planning for the next moment. Everything is always in motion. There are a million things going on at once.

 

 

I look at my students, diverse in ideas, culture, and personality. I don’t want to sell them on a false future. I want them to fall in love with learning – because that’s what life is about. We listen to each other, we learn from each other, we find each other and we find the world we’re living in a new world. A world to go fishing. If you like to fish.

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Putting the logy in technology

Technology for the sake of technology is not enough.

 

Having four dimensional touch pads a la Minority Report won’t make our students more engaged in learning (perhaps for about five minutes). Technology does have its place. It’s a tool like any other. A crayon can be a tool for art – but it isn’t art. With 26 letters and some punctuation, the entirety of possible human knowledge is available. It’s something to think about.

 

With all the tools, from pencil to spectrometer, they aide, facilitate and explore learning, but it isn’t learning itself. Recently I made a little digital story to help illustrate something better than simply reading or writing it. I matched music, pictures, voice, and motion to capture the feel of the piece of writing. I even added some homemade sound effects. While I had envisioned some moody, ethereal piece about climbing a mountain, it sounded completely hokey and had people laughing. It wasn’t the effect I was going for, but that means I need to learn more about how to convey the message I want to. The tools are there, learning how to use them is one thing. Learning how to utilize them is a complete other thing.

 

 

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