Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Math at a Glimps

Looking back over the quarter, I realized how much I have learned using technology in the classroom as a manipulative.  There are so many different pieces of technology out there that are available to students and teachers, I sometimes wonder how my junior high and high school years would have been different if I had access to things like Wolfram Alpha or other online /offline software.  I know that I may have enjoyed math class more if I had these things I could have used.
                I also realized that it’s important to have manipulative that can be used in several different areas of math or even other subjects because teachers can’t get all the manipulative they want all at once.  After exploring with manipulative that I can hold in my hand helped me see that students might be able to learn better from them and maybe able to do it while having fun.
                There was so much information in this quarter that as I sit here pondering on what I want to remember most of all, I have a hard time coming up with something.  I am leaving this math class with several different new concepts of math and even a better understand of why the quadratic formula works because of a lesson using graphs and quadratic blocks as well as a better understand of other math techniques that I did not realize before now.
                Ask me what did I learn in math and I will ask you what part you want me to tell you about.  I learned about using technology and found it to be very rewarding for me.  I also learned about how to use manipulative to teach students more than one way on how to solve a problem as well as that even if a student understand one way to do something it is still important that they learn another. 
                My biggest worry about teaching math was on can I make it interesting enough for the students to want to learn it.  Often teachers are given a book and are required to read out of the book to explain to the students how math equations are done.  But I can see that the book can be used as just one tool for teaching.  It may be required but the students can also be taught more than one way about a key concept.  The teacher can take what they have in a book and try to use different materials to make it more interesting.
                Who would have thought that not only would I be learning math and how to teach it, I would also be learning more classroom management skills?  Although having a job pushed me to work hard and on some days I did not want to because I was exhausted, it made me realize that it helped me stay on task.  I am excited to try using jobs in groups that I will be creating in my classroom.  I wonder if this would be helpfully to younger students or if it will be too difficult for them.  But I think that it’s worth a try.
                I am coming out of this math class with much more than what I went in with.  I am feeling more prepared to teach students math and how I can help them when they do not understand the first way I try to teach them.  I have come to the conclusion that it is good to challenge students to try a different way of finding an answer even if they already know how to do it in some one or another.   

Friday, March 11, 2011


I am still not sure if I see the purpose of using an itouch in the classroom.  I found it hard to use with primary age students.  There are two things that I found beneficial but could be bought at a cheaper price for what they were.  I really liked being able to record my conferences with students.  It was very helpful to assess them by listening to them later on.  It also helped me hear myself as a teacher to see what I needed to change to better help the students. 
Another app that I found to be helpful in the classroom as the merrian-webster dictionary, which did not require an online connection to use like many of the other dictionary apps did.  The students were able to use this to help them with their vocabulary and to better understand a text that used words that they often did not know. 
I would have appreciated more instruction on this tool and how it can be used in a classroom than what was given.  I think that it could have a lot of benefits but without the proper training of it I do not know how many different things this little device can do. Like many other teacher candidates, I did not feel comfortable using it in the classroom because I was afraid that my master teacher would think I was just playing games with the students. 
I understand that it is important to learn how to use such a device because I am sure that before long students will have things like them in their pocket.   If this is the case they should learn how to use it, to help them with their homework as well as use it as an educational device instead of just a gaming device.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Itouch in the classroom

I have not handed the iTouch directly to a student yet. However this does not mean that I have not been using it.  I really enjoy the recording device and have found it very helpful when I am doing running records with students.  Many students seemed to becoming conscience about me when I am writing notes when they are reading to me.  They are often pausing while I am reading to see what I am writing and then when they are done they ask me what they did wrong.
One student in my classroom is selectively mute.  I have found that I can get her to talk to me a little bit when there are no other students around.  However because she is shy and very nervous it is also very hard for me to get a reading record done with her.  Using this device has helped because I have been able to place in on the table while she reads and both the teacher and I can hear her where she is at as a reader. 

Catapulting in the classroom!

Math isn’t always the most fun for students, partly because it is often taught through lectures that sound a bit like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  I know I have felt that way while teaching math lessons only because I have had to stick with the book.  There is no reason for young kids to hate math before they get to high school and college.  Sometimes they will have to go through the boring math lessons but creating extensions and even doing a little bit of editing to an already made math lesson can make it a lot of fun for them to learn. 
In class this week we learned out to use little objects like cotton balls and paper clips to find data on how far you can shoot a cotton ball using the paperclip.  The students would then use their data that they found to found an average of how far they shot their cotton ball as well as possibly find the median, min, max, and mode.  This seemed to be a great way for students to be involved in their own learning instead of just working through data given to them on a sheet of paper.  This will help them see where the data is coming from and what their answers are telling them. 
I was thinking more about this assignment and about my physics class I took many years ago.  I could imagine using what they students have learned from this lesson and creating another lesson using cat-a-puts.  In this lesson the students will be able to learn about force and how much force something has can make a difference on how far it will go.  They would have the opportunity to learn about how much pull gravity has the object and will be able to use this information to figure out how to shoot a plastic cat into a small cup.  The catapult launcher was about to show how much force was being put on the cat as well as the angle it is shooting from.  This can help the kids learn about how to hit a target using math and physic skills.
One thing I wonder about is how can I create lessons using the book that many public school teachers are required to teach from to make the lessons fun and interactive?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Reading Comprehension

After reading with my buddy several times I realized that although she appears to be a good reader, she struggles with comprehension.  Based off from reading with her at grade level work and seeing that she had little comprehension, I am going to go move down a grade level for her to try. 
I have a couple of books for her to choose from.  Once she makes her selection I will have her first read a few pages to herself and then ask for her to read it again out loud.  Once she finishes reading I will ask her questions about what the story is about, who the characters are, what she knows about the characters, and to predict what will happen next in the book. 
Each time with I meet with her, I will tell her before she starts reading to remember to think about the words she is reading and not just say them.  My goal is to help her remember what she has read instead of just reading words on the page that have no meaning. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Math, Words, and Fun

I find it interesting how different words in our language can completely change the meaning of something.  This week in math we discussed creating lessons and how using the word “understands” in our objective does not make sense.  How can one measure what the student really understands?  Think about it, you know how to do the equation but do you know why the equation works, where it came from, and what it really means.  The idea of replacing the work understands with something else is a good thought.  It can completely change your goal as a teacher as to what you want your students to learn.  This makes me think about how we use our language while teaching math skills.  Sometimes, its our job to find different words and examples to help a student grasp the concept on which we are trying to explain to them. 
Math doesn’t always have to be all about answering problems on the board and on paper.  It can also include fun activities where the students don’t often realize that they are learning in the process.  For example, the teacher can use origami to create different shapes through the folds and discuss the shapes with the students. Depending on the age and level of the students it can go as far as explaining why they know that what they have made is a square and how they know all sides are equivalent and all angles are right angles.  However, if you are working with a younger group, the students can talk about what the shapes are that they have made on the paper. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Project 1- Final Analysis

This analysis is based off from a fourth grade student.

Meaning and Ownership
Chrissy is my fourth grade buddy this quarter in my literacy class.  I spend some time talking with her and discovered that she really seems to enjoy spending time with animals, especially cats.  She likes to work alone in the class and seems to enjoy reading mystery and adventure stories.  She thinks of herself as a good writer but particularly likes when the class does science.

She showed me several pieces of her writing and I have chosen to look at her final copy of a story that she wrote about herself as a student in school.  The following is a typed version of her work; all spelling and grammar errors have been preserved.

Chrissy in Fourth Grade
Hey! I am going to show you what I am like in school.  I am nice.  I do my homework and I like to work alone.
First, my third grade teacher thinks I'm a nice kid.  I am great at math.  I am good in reading and I like science.
Next, I do my homework.  I finish my math.  I finish reading  and I finishing spelling. 
Third,  I like to work alone.  I like to write alone.  I like reading alone and I like to practice spelling alone. 
As you can see, I am a neat kid.  I am nice, I do my homework, and I like to work alone.  I promise to use my brain so I can learn. 

Six Traits of Writing
Chrissy appears to understand most of the six traits of writing.  Looking at each section of the six traits she appears to understand more areas better than others.  She does have an IEP for her hearing impairment and possibly for other reasons which may have an impact on her work.

Her ideas show that the topic is about her in school and seems to be fairly tapered and controlled.  She attempts to support some of her work but seems to have difficulty providing a lot of evidence.  For instance, she writes that she is great at math but does not tell the audience why she thinks this. However, she also lets the audience know that she doesn’t like to work with others and prefers to be alone.  She backs this information up by explaining what subjects she likes to work alone with.  She seems to be drawing on her experiences in her past time of what school is like but seems to have some difficulty going from general observations to specifics.

Chrissy had her work in a five paragraph essay format.  She introduced the reader to herself and gave clues as to what will come in the body paragraphs and her conclusion reinforced her ideas. She tried to use some transitions that sometimes worked and other times did not.  She has a clear title that was not restated stated in her writing.
The purpose of the paper that Chrissy wrote seems to be fairly clear.  It seems that the goal of the assignment was to write to write about yourself as a student in school.  She was able to connect with the audience in an earnest, pleasing, and personal way by explaining that she prefers to work alone and talks about what she enjoys doing by herself.  Her voice is very strong throughout this piece of writing.

The word choice Chrissy used was adequate and correct in a general sense but do not have a lot of pizazz to them.  She clearly attempted to use colorful language at the start of each new paragraph by trying to use different words each time such as saying “next” or “third”.  The words and phrases are functional but have only one or two small reasonable instants.  She doesn’t use very many descriptive words but seems to have put effort into her word choice.

In Chrissy’s writing she seems to finish sentences to get the job done in a routine fashion. She tries to use some variety in her sentences but towards the end appears rushed and each line begins with “I like”.  It is possible that she wanted the repetition to prove her point but I am not completely clear if that is the case.

Chrissy has a very strong grasp on conventions in her writing.  She always uses capital letters and proper punctuation in her work.  At one point she even used an explanation point.  Her story has paragraphs throughout and each paragraph starts with a new idea and is not ended abruptly.  All her spelling is correct and her grammar is used correctly.

Spelling Developement
Chrissy had no spelling errors in her story about herself. However, when I gave her the spelling test of words she did miss a few of them.  Most of the words she got correct and the words she did get wrong, I believe was only because she didn’t know the word or she could not hear me correctly. It appears to me that many of her errors were because of her hearing impairment.  Take for example the word opposition, I do not think that Chrissy heard me correctly nor did she understand the word because she spelled it “petion” and for the word cattle she wrote “battle”.  She did miss a few suffixes but not all such as serving was “serveing” and spoiled was “spoild”. Checking for spelling would have been more beneficial if she was put into a quiet room with her and the person giving her the test in order to help ensure that she could hear the word correctly without background noise.

Lesson Plan

To use pizazz and descriptive words in her writing.

3.2.2 Uses language appropriate for a specific audience and purpose.  Uses precise words (e.g., vivid verbs —screeched, hovered, absorbed; specific nouns — granite, longhouse, cedar).
1.1.1 Applies more than one strategy for generating ideas and planning writing.

a picture of many different looking cats

Instructional Strategies
1.      I will have the student look at the picture and ask her what she sees.  (I know that she likes cats so she will be intrigued by the image).
2.      I will then ask her to use descriptive words about each cat such as that cat is fat and that one is black. 
3.      As the Chrissy gives me examples of each cat, I will show her that she can also use the dictionary or the thesaurus to look up more descriptive words
4.      I will ask her to write down her first choice of word and let her choose between using the thesaurus or the dictionary to help her find other words to replace dull descriptive such as fat with other words like plump.
5.      Chrissy will make a list of descriptive and pizazz words for each cat she sees in the picture.
6.      After she completes the list of brainstorming words, she will be writing a story about the cats.
7.      When she finishes her first draft she will read through the story and find where she needs to add more descriptive words. 
8.      I will then encourage her to check for transitional words to help add to her well written piece. 

When the activity is finished, Chrissy will be asked to write me a story about at least two of the cats she sees in the picture.  Chrissy will be encouraged to write some of the new words that she found as well as others throughout the story to make her writing more interesting and fun.  She will be asked to circle each pizazz and descriptive word she uses in order for me to see that she understands what I was asking her to do as well as to be sure that she knows and remembers to use these kinds of words in her writing.