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.