701 Session 6
My kids have really been struggling lately with being in the learning pit. In fact, it feels as though some of them have set up camp and decided they are going to live down there forever. It has always been a challenge, especially in math, to encourage kids to keep on climbing to make their way out. My current unit has felt like a complete failure. Students seemed entirely unwilling to do the work necessary to be able to access the math at the 7th grade level. Given homework, about 30% of my students would complete it. Classwork? They would rather chat with their friends. Oh, they missed problems on the quiz? They'll do fine even if they take no steps to help themselves only to repeat the same again if not falling back even farther than where they were the previous quiz. I felt like I was failing them, but at the same time the saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink" became my mantra.
Until this week. Something finally started happening. Students were actually putting their skills together to solve the problems they will be asked to solve with the upcoming summative...and they were doing it. All of the sudden, they were starting to fly right out of that pit of learning. They were asking really good questions that were specific and when they were wrong, they were enthusiastic about figuring out what was the mistake and trying the problem again. All I hope it that it keeps up and they continue with the progress they are making.
Post for 701 Sessions 5
Read: Can Creativity Taught? This document outlines Louis R. Mobley's (former director of the IBM Executive School) approach to answering this question. You will refer to this in your blog post - R-Reflect.
Reading through the article I found myself nodding along quite often. I have always felt that creativity can often be stifled with some of the ways we teach our students. Instead of teaching them to come at a problem with a creative lens, thinking about math, we tend to try and teach students step by step how to do something which ends up stripping away the context of when to actually apply whatever it is we were teaching them. They learn that only in this situation do we use that specific method. I felt this way when I was in school myself. I felt that the higher up in education I went, the more I was losing the creativity that really was important to me.
I am always doing my best to try to give students tasks where they have to figure out what to apply on their own and trying to think about the problem in a way that is outside of the box. They always hate it stating they want me to just tell them exactly what to do. Its uncomfortable for them. But I persist and they eventually come up with solutions I never had thought of.
I want to continue pushing them in these ways for this particular reason. Adults need that creativity to deal with a world that is constantly changing and to be able to solve problems that haven't even been invented yet.
Reflection for 701 Session 4
When thinking about how the implementation of the policies Darling-Hammond laid out at the end of Flat World, I can't help but hope that more of it could be reality. The book itself is a few years old now, but some districts really have begun implementing some of her suggestions, whether borrowed from her or realized separately. I know at our school, we are working really hard at creating and sharing meaningful learning goals. We want students to understand what we are trying to teach them and the why behind it. We want students to be able to identify where they are in their individual learning progress. As for the rest? We really have a long way to go.
When it comes to John Dewey's quote (“What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must we want for all children in the community. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy”) I feel like most people in the education world do their best to follow this ideology. The problems tend to arise with agreeing with what are the best practices for children. Parents don't even agree. I do think that some of what is spoken to in Flat World can definitely begin to help up come to consensus about how to approach learning and tackling the inequality issues.
Reflection for 701 Session 3
“This is expecting too much if we think that people can keep up with this rapid change [in tech tools]. So ... instead of focusing on keeping up with every piece of technology or software we argue for something different. We argue for developing a thoughtfully playful attitude towards understanding the landscape being created by these new technologies. What can be called a “new media ecology.”
This is how I have always approached technology. I look at is as a new toy to explore and play with. This is also how I try to encourage my students (and adults) to approach technology. Explore, play, research. Everything I have trouble with I have learned how to do by Googling it and then playing with what I discover. What I thought was a natural thing to do, I have discovered is not how many people approach technology.
This is also what I apply to my learning new tech tools to use in my classroom. I look up different options and make time to just sit and play around with them all the while figuring out how I can incorporate it into a new way of seeing things in my math classes.
When it comes to how I organize my tech finds, I have folders of bookmarks on my Google chrome and a Pinterest account. I have found lately though that it is becoming more and more difficult to find things on Pinterest. I also list any cool math specific resources (as do my colleagues) on my site's PLC agenda.
Reflection for 701 Session 2
When I looked at the title of the book we were asked to read for the 701 class (Flat Earth) I assumed it would be like every other book I have had to read in the past regarding teaching and whatever new fad was in fashion. I was entirely wrong, and happily so. It has been filled with research about how flawed our current educational system is, especially in California. I found myself nodding along as I listened to an audible version of the text. Though I admit I have not yet completed all 6 chapters, I have had my eyes opened a little more to some of the causes of the issues I have seen in my own school and district. The biggest takeaway from the reading this week was when the author was expressing how schools who serve a majority minority student body, tend to focus more on catching students up through intervention type programs. I have often been a vocal proponent of the need for some sort of intervention at our school for math having only been told over and over again that our need is too great, therefore we cannot have the course. When discussing this topic in the book, the author points to a study where students who were considered below basic in their skills were put into an accelerated course and treated and taught the same as a class of students who were considered advanced in their skills. What they found was that the students who were below basic ended up performing almost as high as those students who were considered advanced. This blew my mind. It also gave me an idea for what I could base my research on. I currently teach a regular math 7 course as well as an accelerated course. I want to do some experimenting of my own by teaching my regular math 7 course in a similar fashion as my accelerated course. I have often found myself holding my math 7 students to a lower standard than my accelerated students as they come to me behind by several grade levels. I realized I have made a lot of assumptions about their abilities in mathematics based on their ability coming in to class. I want to see how they step up to the plate if the curriculum is taught with much higher expectations.
As for the research on different cases where technology was brought into the classroom, I found that most of the videos and case studies I found were things I had already brought into my classroom as I try to teach students how to use technology to their advantage.
Here we go...
And thus begins my entrance into the blog world via the master's program through Touro University. It was asked of me to create my first post so here goes...
When I think about what I am passionate about when it comes to learning, I keep coming back to my deep need to just keep learning. Learn everything I can about anything I can. I didn't used to enjoy it so much. In fact, I was bored through most of my school years and only went to college when my mother urged me to do it. I continued this trend by choosing a major based on the easiest thing I thought I could choose to get my degree in and the quickest which was photography (shameless plug for the above picture being mine). It didn't go well. It wasn't until I had dropped out and found that I couldn't go more than a semester without being in at least one class to help grow my mind. I got back in and suddenly discovered all of these classes that held my interest. I was engrossed in the glossed over parts of US history and how to carbon date fossils and how surveys are used and abused to show and skew data. I found myself unable to get enough. I feel the same when it comes to technology. I want to learn how to do it all. I do my best to look up anything and everything I can when learning a new tech toy or digital program.
This deep love of learning is what I want to help foster in my students. I want them to feel the same urge I do to research and find all sides of the stories and to think critically about everything they come across in order to become adults who are informed and care about the world around them. I want to build a sense of empathy inside of them to help bring more kindness into the world. I can only hope that some of what I teach them sticks with them and they continue to grow and change into the adults I know they all can be.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.