Hopes and Dreams

Teaching is something that I have always wanted to do. I used to “play school” with my dolls growing up. I had a white board and everything and that was my favorite thing to do. Now that I am going to be a teacher in real life, I definitely have some fears and concerns, but also I have some hopes and dreams for my career as a teacher.

 

One of the things I fear as a future teacher is discipline. I have always been kind of a push over and people-pleaser. This is not something that is necessarily a great quality of a teacher. I am nervous that when it comes time to have to punish a student, I will not know what is an appropriate punishment or how to go about delivering that punishment to them because I would not want them to be upset. I think that this fear was strengthened after this past semester when I was in a middle school classroom every Tuesday and Thursday. My mentor teacher was awesome and I definitely learned a lot. But there were times when she would tell us what she did when a student misbehaved. For example, she would call their parents or write the parents an email, or something like that. Most of the time, whatever she did to deal with their punishment, I would never of even thought of doing that to deal with the situation. I know that as time goes on and I get more comfortable as my role as a teacher, this will start to come more naturally.

 

Another fear I have is that I sometimes don’t know if I will be able to explain things clearly. Basically what this means is I get scared if I will actually be a good teacher. I’m sure every future teacher has a little bit of this fear in them. This fear is mainly related to teaching mathematics. Teaching math can be very hard because I don’t want to just say, for example, that a math process works because “I said so.” I want to be able to explain the deeper understanding behind the process and clearly demonstrate to students how to work through certain problems. Again, this is something that I will become more comfortable with over time.

 

Of course one of my hopes as a future teacher is to be a great teacher! I want to be someone that my students look up to and trust. I would obviously love to be “the cool teacher” J Overall, I really just want to have a positive impact on my future students’ lives and to educate them to the best of my ability. I think that some of the ideas I can use to do this come from Tovani’s Chapter 4. She talks a lot about different resources besides the textbook that can be useful in the classroom, but that sometimes this requires more work on the teacher’s part to find these resources. Finding different ways to educate my students in order to appeal to all different learning styles and abilities is one of my goals as a teacher. I understand, like Tovani mentioned, that every year more content is added to the curriculum and teachers are constantly trying to squeeze so much information into one school year. But this is a challenge I am looking forward to and I can’t wait to have my own classroom!

Mathematical Literacy and Read Alouds

Mathematics is my primary subject focus as an undergraduate students. I have always loved math and now I want to teach it! Before taking this class, I never understood that there was such a thing as “reading in math.” Over the past few weeks I have come to learn that there most definitely is a specific way to read in a mathematics class.

I recently read a blog post about reading in a math class. The blog was titled “Mathematical Literacy: A necessary skill for the 21st century.” You can find this blog at this link: http://blogs.plos.org/scied/2013/02/11/mathematical-literacy-a-necessary-skill-for-the-21st-century/. Being that I want to teach math, I found this blog very helpful. It started out by talking about how some students do not “get” math, how they think they have never been good at math, and how they just don’t like it. One thing I liked that this article mentioned was how that mathematical literacy can refer to being able to do things that are necessary in life such as balancing a checkbook or leaving a tip at a restaurant. It said that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines numerical literacy as:

Quantitative literacy – the knowledge and skills required to apply arithmetic operations, either alone or sequentially, to numbers embedded in printed materials, such as balancing a chequebook, figuring out a tip, completing an order form or determining the amount of interest on a loan from an advertisement.

 

I found this definition every interesting because it talks about how being able to make sense of math and numbers (AKA “reading” math) means that you are able to make sense of the numerical operations and expressions that are printed on something. As mentioned above, I really like how they said that this includes things needed in life, such as balancing a check book, leaving a tip, determining the amount of interest on a loan, etc. 

I found another blog that talked about the same things called “Mathematical Literacy.” You can find this blog here: http://trobsonblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/mathematical-literacy/. This blog talked about the same sort of thing, but it defined mathematical literacy as being able to “understand the different forms that we use to find data, such as charts, and graphs, and interpret symbols commonly used in math, translate words into symbols and symbols into words, and articulate accurately using mathematical language.” I liked this definition a lot because this is basically what you are doing in an every day math classroom; teachers are trying to help students daily make sense of what math problems are asking them to do and they do this through charts, graphs, symbols, words, and other data. If you can understand what it is you are supposed to do or understand, then you are being literate in mathematics. 

The article also mentioned how math teachers need to take strategies used by English or language arts teachers to help students become more mathematically literate. A lot of the same strategies that are used in language arts classrooms can be used in math classrooms when trying to decipher the meaning of something. I thought this was interesting and something that could be very useful for a future classroom. There is no shame in using all the resources available to a teacher, and this includes other teachers! So I really enjoyed this blog.

I also found a read aloud regarding mathematics. It is a student in front of the class showing how to “read” a graph. I liked this read aloud because it is something that I can use in my future classroom. I could have a student come up in front of the class and show what though process they used to make sense of information presented to them. The student in the video talked about the labeling of the graph, the slope, the points on the graph, and what all these things meant in relation to the problem that he was given. This video can be found at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1CT_G7jqhY.

Blog #4, Am I Getting Any Better At This?

Hello wordpress world-

Hopefully my blog is improving as I continue to post! This week I read chapter 3 in Cris Tovani’s Do I Really Have to Teach Reading. As I have mentioned before, I really enjoy this book so far. It’s an easy read, but very informational, and definitely something I am going to hold on to for my future classroom. This chapter discussed how teachers in content areas different than English and Language Arts can help their students read in their classroom. Tovani made a very good point when he mentioned that when teachers are told they have to monitor how their students are reading and help improve it, they get frustrated and angry. They already have fifty million other things to do as a teacher, with all the standards and requirements they have to cover. They simply feel like they don’t have time to help their students read and write because that is what English and Language Arts classes are for. 

Well, as the chapter continued, Tovani described how in each content area, students “read” in different ways. She says that “the problem is that if language arts and English teachers are the only ones teaching reading, students aren’t going to learn how to read different types of texts” (25). The way you read in math is completely different than the way you read in Social Studies. Tovani said that “social studies teachers could perhaps help students understand the value of being able to read with cause and effect in mind” (25). She says that every content area has a different process for reading texts, and it is the job of the teacher to make sure students are reading these correctly.

Tovani talks about different strategies teachers can try in order to help students improve their content reading. One thing teachers can do is model how their own reading processes. For example, math teachers often read the problem they are given all the way through, then decipher what information is given and what information they need to find. If teachers model to their students this kind of reading, than students can try and do the same process when on their own. Tovani mentions that in order to “help readers get through difficult content, I must first identify what they are struggling with…and put myself in a similar situation and see how I as a good reader would negotiate the difficulty” (29). This is a strategy teachers can use when students are struggling with their content reading. Often times, teachers make sense of content reading without even realizing it, so it is always important to put yourself in the shoes of a student and see where their difficulty in reading lies, and then help with these difficulties. 

Another strategy that works is to write down questions you have as you read something. Coming back to those questions later can help decipher what you just read in order to make meaning of it. Doing this in front of the whole class can be beneficial and help the entire class make sense of whatever it is they may be reading, a math problem, a novel, an article, etc. If teachers can focus on identifying what students are struggling with, identify how they as a good reader would overcome these struggles, and then model the processes they used to overcome the difficulties, it would be easy to help students improve their reading in any content area! I like the ideas that Tovani talked about in this chapter. Hopefully they will be something I can use in my future classroom.

 

I also watched a short podcast this week called “Choice Literacy.” You can find the podcast here: 

http://www.choiceliteracy.com/articles-detail-view.php?id=1419

This podcast is an interview between Franki Sibberson and Penny Kittle. These two discussed how to help students grow as readers and writers across content areas, not necessarily in just language arts classes. Penny described how one thing teachers can in between assigning a paper and collecting it is teaching students how to collect and organize important information. One way this can be most effective and enjoyable for the students is if they are given the option to write about what they want to, instead of just being give one topic that each student has to write about. Giving students the freedom to write can be done in any class. Penny says that in order for teachers who teach content areas other than language arts to be able to know what they are doing, an English teacher can help coach both the teacher and students on how to write effectively and efficiently. If these type of pairing up between teachers happened, then students would learn from an English teacher to how collect and organize information, and then learn from their content teacher how to write about that specific subject. Visuals and tables can used to demonstrate collecting and organizing data. I like this idea of having an English teacher show me or me and my class how a well written paper can be constructed and organized. I have never thought about or heard about this type of approach before, but I think it’s a good idea.

 

That was all the reading and listening I had to do for the week, but I wanted to also share a way to incorporate reading or writing into one of my content area focuses. Last week in class, we had to create a “starter” or “warm up” for a class other than language arts that incorporated content literacy. For my starter I did: 

Starter for Social Studies: have students read a short exert from a speech someone made in World War II (or any war depending on the lesson) and see if they can figure out what the speech means. Tell students to highlight what they think is important, underline words they do not know what they mean, and write down any questions they have after they have read the speech and then briefly summarize in 3 sentences what they think is the overall jist of the speech. 

I thought this was a good way to see if students can make sense of what they are reading, and if they have questions they can write those down and make note of words they do not understand. 

 

Throughout this week also, I have built upon my definition of content learning. Especially after reading Tovani’s chapter, I have no learned that content learning means being able to make sense of what you read, write, hear, and communicate. But this can differ in each content area; the way we do these things is different for each content area and I think that is so cool. The way you read and write in math is not the same as the way you read and write in social studies. However, being able to do both in both subject areas is very important.