Time For A Change to Teaching Math
Guest blog post by Venetia Ricchio (@Bellagio594)
I want to change the way I teach. I see a lot of students mindlessly memorizing patterns and procedures without any understanding the math I teach them. Technology into the classroom has forced me to do less lecturing and be more student centered and student driven. It is difficult though within the constraints of the calendar to make great changes. I’m expected to give tests and quizzes on the exact same day as everyone else.
Changing the Task
But I long to see more real understanding from my students, more discussion. I’m thinking about teaching equations in a different way next year. Maybe start with having students make up their own equations by writing word problem scenarios. I want to take Kasey Bell’s magnetic poetry, and change it to magnetic equations. Then they can drag expressions (magnets) onto the refrigerator, write their own equations, solve them, and make them into a word problem. I think writing their own will give more meaning to it than just copying equations and learning the procedures to solve them. Once they write them I’ll have them take a screenshot, and then post them on a Padlet so other students can see them. Its an experiment, but I just can’t do things the same as last year. I used a lot of apps and experimented a lot last year within the constraints that I had. But I’m ready to bump things up to a new level, actually changing the tasks.
Reflecting on this past year’s events, my brain is swimming. I’ve tried so many things, so many firsts. I’ve taken a lot of risks. I worked with a Tech coach every week ( Thank you Paula!) I’ve tried: Glogster posters, Thinglink vocabulary posters, construction videos recorded on Doceri. posted on a Thinglink, Google Forms answer sheets corrected by Flubaroo, Socrative, Would you Rather, Which one doesn’t belong, Estimation 180, Digital homework folders on Google Slides, Google Slides projects, organizing units on Padlet, student blogs on Padlet, Dermandar Panorama app, Google drawings posters, Formative interactive lessons, Desmos activity builder, Polygraph, Quizlet live, Quizizz, Kahoot, Quizalize, Geogebra tube, and Nearpod interactive lessons.
I need to reflect on which things to do again, and which things to throw out.What can I do better? How can the students take more ownership of their learning ? I need to think about adding higher DOK levels. Have students present, post, and publish everything. I know I can do better! How can I restructure my tutorial class to be more effective? They are Freshmen who struggle in Math, double blocked, 6th period(end of the day). I’m thinking game based, made to strengthen their skills and understanding, interactive, challenging but fun, collaborative.
New School Year
I’m really excited to be getting a new room, and 1:1 Chromebooks this year. I’m thinking about how to use those tools and rearrange my classroom. I’m reading about Hyperdocs. I think they are a great way to create “student adventures “ in a creative and colorful way.
Collaborating With Other Teachers
I’m meeting with other teachers this summer to discuss ideas, share ideas, and collaborate. This is sooo Awesome! I love showing other teachers what I’ve been doing, and showing them how to do stuff. It’s great to see what they have been doing and learn from them. They are so talented! It’s good to get feedback on your own ideas to make them better.
Trying Something New
I’m going to my first GAFE conference in July. I’m curious and excited to see what goes on there. Also being part of the “Chromebook Cohort” is going to be amazing. We will attend a two day bootcamp, then have tech coaches in our classes next year observing and helping us. But the opportunity to help other teachers is what excites me the most! There is just something magical that happens when another teacher tries something new, and then sees how they can use it in their own classroom that is so satisfying to me.
Something Is Working
My students test scores on the first two tests are higher than they have ever been in the last 3 years since we started the Common core. What’s going on???? This summer I decided to make very short 2 minute videos on my iPad to teach the skills and concepts. My students come in, grab their computers and log into Google classroom where I’ve posted the videos and digital assignments.
Beyond Note Taking
I’ve done very little direct instruction, and almost NO NOTES! I only had them take notes on a Nearpod presentation that was also interactive. They don’t have a formal notebook either. I didn’t make flip books like last year. But somehow they are learning, and much better than before. Today I gave a Unit test. I remember it taking two days last year. This year most of them finished it in 20 minutes, only five students per class need to finish tomorrow. I’ll have the others move onto the next lesson while they finish. It’s more individualized.
I mostly walk around and help individuals.
I have them sitting in groups. There’s more discussion. The class is noisier. They aren’t doing much homework either. They only have homework if they don’t finish in class. I’ve considered that maybe I have students with more ability, but I have 11 special Ed students in my 5th period, and a 1:1. My teaching partner is on leave, yet these students are also performing well. Yes it is only the 3rd week of school, and we have had our share of internet problems. It’s been unpredictable, but we persist. I’m not sure why this is working. My class isn’t flipped. They watch all the videos in class. What’s Happening? Why is this working? I’m going to continue this. When the material gets harder will this stop? Will they be less engaged? Will I need to change and rethink it? Lots of questions, only time will tell. But I’m loving this!