Tag Archives: Teaching

Texting Teacher

28 Apr

It has been weeks since my pre-internship at Campbell Collegiate has been done, and I finally feel like I have the chance to reflect on a great experience.  I was able to try many things while working at Campbell, the most exciting thing being a cell phone math lesson.

I have felt a lot like doing all the research I have done over the last semester has made me feel confident in using a tool like cell phones in the classroom, except I hadn’t really had an opportunity to try it and see what it was actually like.  From day one at Campbell I knew that I could use the cell phones.  Looking at the classroom it is easy to see how crucial students feel cell phones are in their life.  Almost every single student used the phone instead of a calculator and it was nice to see that the teacher was alright with this.  You can tell when the students are actually using them as calculators and when they are texting or doing something off task.  At first I thought that most students would be texting, but I found that most of them were only using their phones when they needed to make a calculation.

I turned to cell phones when I didn’t have anything to plan.  I was supposed to be introducing slope, but my partner and I switched classes for the last week so I was without the textbook or anything that was supposed to be planned for the unit.  The unit they were working on was slope.  It was a perfect unit for me to work with the kids with because I had just went over rate of change with them so it was easy to make the transition.  I started my lesson off with a guided inquiry handout that I had the students work on their own with to discover slope, which also turned into their notes for that section, then had them do a journal on what they thought slope was.  I then did a quick overview of what slope was and described to the students what positive, negative, and neutral slopes were.  My lecture time didn’t last very long.

As soon as  I asked the students to pull out their phones they thought it was a joke.  Once I convinced them we were using them, they became much more excited.  What I had prepared was ten stations (which I have below) that they could decide if the slope was positive, negative or neutral.  It described slope in multiple different ways like a graph, points and in words.  I used the website called Poll Everywhere.  What this did was create a poll that the students could decide whether they thought each station was positive, negative, or neutral and then they texted that number and answered the question.  Many students, because we hadn’t done anything like this before, were confused why they were texting the number because they didn’t get a text back, but this was easily cleared up at the end of the lesson.

The students worked quickly through the stations and were 100 percent engaged.  Some of the students who have trouble focusing on an assignment for the whole class got through the questions quickly and on their own.  I was a little worried that some of the students were just walking around guessing, but this wasn’t the case.  Once everyone had time to go to all of the stations, i brought up the completed polls on the board.  This was beneficial in multiple ways.  Not only did the students get to see if they got the answer right, but I also got to assess as well.  I could see which problems the students had difficulties with and if they understood the concept.

 In the above poll there was differences in the answers, so I could go over it instantly as a class to see where some of them were going wrong.  As we went along through the stations they got more consistent and 100% of the class was answering the question correctly.  The most interesting part of this was the students reactions (I have a video I just can’ t put it online).  They  started getting excited each time I went to show them the answer.  I had them do a written copy of the stations so they knew what they had answered for each question, so before I showed them the poll I asked them what they thought it was going to be.  At around five questions in they started clapping for themselves, and on the last ones they were cheering.  It was amazing to see them get so excited over their math assignment.

There was a moment that really stuck out where a girl congratulated everyone after they got the question right, and I was just very proud of the students at that exact moment.  I was a little worried that my assignment had no connections to what they needed to have done for their teacher (aka the text) so I looked at the questions.  Each station covered every type of question that was in the assignment so I assigned them some questions that they did very easily.

Of course this assignment could be done without cell phones, but I think it would lose the engagement.  The class responded really well to this assignment, but obviously many other classes wouldn’t.  It was a really nice way to work in some cell phone use in the classroom and see how it went over.  I could have easily used a QR code with this making it that much easier for the students.  There is a generator that will send a text when you scan the code, so I could have had them just scan the code and click send for their decision.

Using the cell phones has really shown me that there is a need to incorporate the technology that appeals to the students.  The technology component of the curriculum requires so much more than just graphing calculators now, and as educators we need to find ways to use these different technologies effectively.  I can see that cell phones are important now and it is great to find ways to use them, but I can also see that it is going to change and adapt even more.  Technology is quick, and it replaces itself so quickly, what works right now isn’t necessarily what will work in the near future.  I feel the need to be very on the ball with these things because once I feel like I have perfected the use of one technology it is probably going to be out dated.  For now, since I am not in my own class, I just need to try to think about the different ways to incorporate technology, and be aware of how it is changing.

A History Of A Teacher

20 Apr

EPS 350 required us to make a documentary of our growth over this last semester.

Wow.  What a lot of work…

I created this video called A History Of A Teacher.  It is my reflection on what I have done for this semester.  Of course, I had to edit out a majority (basically all) of my actual experiences because there were students in the clips or pictures.  What is left is basically the introduction and conclusion.  I wanted to try and do something different… so I guess you just have to watch it to understand what I mean.. yes I am a huge dork.  The intro has more of my own reflection on how teaching has developed before I even got a chance to be involved. So I hope you enjoy!

I learned a lot doing this assignment.  Mainly that editing video drives me nuts.  It’s a really cool process and fun to work with, but since I had basically no video editing experience whatsoever there were a lot of frustrations.  I got it to look how I want it to, mostly… I used Windows Movie Maker, I wish I could try using some different programs.

A Reflection

19 Apr

During pre-internship I learned a lot of things about myself.  I found that my expectations of myself, going into the experience, were very high, which probably forced me to try and do more each day.  Some of my ideas of what I thought education was changed, and others were reinforced.  I got to experience teachers out in the field and see many things that I like, but more likely than that was seeing thing that I didn’t like.

My main focus for this field placement was assessment.  I really wanted to try and actually do some assessing because this has been the real first chance I have got to do it.  I wanted to over do it, if anything, since we were only there for a short period of time.  I tried many different things like exit slips, entrance slips, anecdotal notes, observation, assignments, homework, quizzes, tests, projects and probably even more.  Each day I tried to make note of the assessing I planned to do as well as what I thought I had actually accomplished.  I made a detailed log on my online learning portfolio .

Not only did I try to vary my assessment tools, but I tried varying my teaching strategies as well.  Since my EMTH class researched using different online things, I tried hard to incorporate two of the strategies.  I made a What Can You Do With This video and used that as a point of inquiry with my math nines, as well I did a cell phone activity with my math tens.  Finally, after all that research, I was able to put it in action and actually see first hand how students responded to the strategy.  I tried a bunch of different inquiry lessons and the more I did the more successful they become.  My students were not used to any variance in their teaching so I had to make them comfortable first and create a better risk free environment for them.

I found myself trying to differentiate a lot.  There was a student with Aspbergers in my class, as well as FASD, and those were the things I was told about.  I made separate lessons for them to work on, that appealed to them better, as well as made extensions for my higher level students.  I taught all my lessons in a way that was meant to be understood by all and I was very conscious of  everything I said and did.  I had created a series of arm signals that the students new to show their understanding.

Some days I tried a little two hard with some of my lessons.  I think that my greatest weakness from this experience is that I really need to plan everything through.  There are lots of changes to my lessons that I could have avoided if I just spent a little bit more time critically thinking about them.  I had two difficult classes for classroom management, which I think I handled well most days, but this was also another thing to improve on greatly.  I need to vary my techniques on how I handle a class and become more familiar and comfortable using these different ways.  I am also worried about bullying.  I actually witnessed some minor bullying, and was able to stop it for the time being, but I am overwhelmed with not knowing how to handle it.  I have no clue!  I used to think I knew how to handle some of these things but now that I am actually in the school setting I am very worried I won’t actually know when the opportunity presents itself.

I learned so much from the experience, and was lucky to have a co-op who let me try everything I wanted to try.  I was able to go into some extra-curricular settings as well and get a feel for that.  My main focus for the future, now, is knowing that I have to be constantly thinking about what I’m doing and if I can do that and continue to build on my teaching, I feel like I will be become more of a teacher.

Easy Assessment Vs. Easy Marking

26 Mar

Which would you choose?  The ability to assess easily, or the ability to mark easily.  I suppose for some teachers this could be a difficult decision for them.

I just don’t see how though.  If the only reason for making a “test” or “assignment” the way you do is because its easiest to mark, who is that benefiting?

I have been marking multiple choice tests recently, and doing them myself also, and find that I can’t even figure out what the question is asking me some times.  I also find that I know nothing about what my students know or don’t know from these questions.

So I ask myself, why would I choose the easy marking?  Sure it might take longer to go through different assessment tools, or even just making notes about the students from day to day, but it’s easier for me to assess in the end.  The actually assessment, not the evaluation of marks, but the assessment, is incredibly easier when I can see the progress my students have been making every step of the way.

The easy marking might save the time when having to fill a report card with marks.  If I’m filling this report card with numbers that don’t mean anything, what is the point?  I can see that my students are purely motivated by the marks that they get, but there are still ways to give marks for authentic assessment.

Some may think that giving marks for the things a teacher observes isn’t as credible as having concrete marks from an assignment or an exam.  The numbers might seem to be “made up” by the teacher.  My question is:  What is the difference between numbers “made up” by teachers from their actual assessment of a students progress, and the numbers given from a multiple choice.  A number given from a multiple choice test can be just as pointless, considering you can’t really see the knowledge from a multiple choice question.  What is more beneficial for the student?

It’s sad to think that a reason someone would do less actual assessment because its less work than marking, say, a multiple choice test.  I choose to do more work, if by more work it means more time on my students, because it will be easier to assess, because I can see much more clearly what my students know and, more importantly, need.

Multiple… Choice?

23 Mar

We have all taken them, and probably given them, the dreaded multiple choice test.  Although they are convenient, how much do they actually assess?

Recently I have been in a class that had only multiple choice tests and I found myself wondering what the point was of even doing them?  If they are made good, they can show some things, but if they are made badly, then they seem to be completely useless.

I understand that in some cases a multiple choice test are the only option necessary (or so the teacher might believe), but if they can be avoided then why aren’t they done so?

The first type of assessment I have encountered in my pre-internship, not administrated by myself, has been multiple choice.  While going through the quiz I wondered how much I could actually understand of the students knowledge depending on which letter they circled.  The only beneficial aspect of this quiz was going over it question by question, and actually seeing if the students could do the questions when they were asked.

So if that is the purpose of the quiz then why do it at all?

The real purpose of the quiz is quite simple: a grade.  There needs to be a numerical number to attach to a students name in order to make up the grade for the course.

If we are teaching students to understand we should be teaching for understanding not teaching for a grade.

Why We Share

8 Mar

This semester I have realized how much sharing is important.  I have become very dependent on my peers for ideas and support throughout this semester especially, and the growth I have gone through because of this has been unlike any other in my university experience.

My presentation on QR codes has taken a vast majority of my interest the last couple of months.  It all started on my blog so I thought I would finish it here.  Except, I’m never going to finish it.  This project has become something I am so incredibly interested in, I want to keep going and become on expert.  I want to know what I’m doing, and look at all the pros and cons of its uses.  By researching just this one type of technology I can apply the process and many of the same skills used it to other technologies, and hopefully be able to learn as much about technology as I can.

My favourite part of this project has been my ability to share it.  Tomorrow is our presentation on what I have learned, and I have never been more excited to present something… ever.  I want to be able to show everyone the wonderful things I have found and hope to spark interest in them to do the same, and that is what teaching is all about.

My wiki, Education QR Codes,  has become my pride and joy.  I want to keep adding to it whenever I can.  I also want to try and use these things in the classroom and share what I do.  I want to share it all.  The most rewarding thing for me is knowing that I can share the information I have and have just one person be grateful for it.

What I would really love is if people all over would do the workshop we have planned for tomorrow.  It is a set of 7 QR “stations” that utilize QR codes and cell phones in different ways.  Some of them include posting your name and where you are from to a PollEverywhere survey, and uploading a picture to our class flickr.  It would be really cool to show my class how you could make that connection with people and have multiple people doing the same lesson.

Regardless of how the presentation goes, and especially the mark I receive, I have satisfied my hunger to learn more this semester than I have in a very long time… and that’s enough for me.

Myth Buster

12 Feb

What makes a person a good teacher?  I recently read an excerpt from Deborah Britzman’s Practice makes Practice which talked about some of the myths that affect teachers.  I looked specifically at the myth that teachers are naturally born.  Not only was I affected by the repercussions this myth but also by how my peers reacted to what we had read.

I have heard that teaching is genetic for many years.  There are certain aspects of a person that are going to help them become a teacher, but can we say that teachers are naturally born?  What would that say about the pressures placed upon teachers?  How does that affect how teachers learn?

Saying that a teacher is naturally born leads to the idea that teachers form themselves.  This idea that teachers form themselves creates a lot of pressure.  When we say things like this we are taking importance away from the education program we are in  and how we train, and saying we already possess all the knowledge necessary to be a teacher.

I know that I don’t know everything.  I know that over the last three years I have been exposed to education that has fostered great growth within me.  I have been in great experiences teaching in a classroom, and learned many things from that, but without the combination of my education classes I would not have had the same experience.  I am not an expert in absolutely everything, and because I have been given the time to learn from many of the experts I have learned so much more.

The thing that I found most interesting when responding to this reading was the way my class reacted.  Instead of talking about the myth and the negative outcomes it creates for teachers, they chose to support the myth itself.  No one seemed to have anything to disagree with the myth, but completely agreed with it.  It blew my mind.  It makes me think about how much everyone around me seems to much more confident than I do.  I’m scared to teach, I’m worried, but also excited.  Lots seem to think everything besides that teaching experience is a waste of time.  I’m sick of hearing people say how much they hate reflecting.  I am the exact opposite, clearly, otherwise I wouldn’t be blogging so much.  I try to concern myself with just what I feel and what I am going to do while teaching.  It’s difficult to not compare myself with the people around me.  I’m getting much better at being confident with my own work though.