Discussions

This past week in class, we focused a lot of talking about discussions and how these can be incorporated into a classroom. We talked about different strategies that can be used in order to get students thinking deeper about what they read. One of these strategies is “Read Aloud.” This is a pretty self explanatory strategy: the student rotate reading out loud in the classroom. Everyone follows along and the teacher can stop them at any point and ask questions about what they just read. If you had a class full of strong readers, this would be a great strategy to use. However, you have to be careful that if you use this strategy, it doesn’t backfire in a classroom of students who are struggling readers. 

Discussions are also a great way for students to learn from other students. When teachers facilitate discussions, sometimes the main goal is not to talk a lot but to let the students talk for themselves. Students listen to one another and can learn from listening to what others have to say. They also have to back up what they say with information from the text. A lot of the time a teacher can ask “Well, where did you find that in the book? What page is that on?” Which makes them have accountability to what they say. 

We also talked about tests, quizzes, and different strategies that are used to basically test how “smart” a student is. We have also talked a lot about standardized testing and multiple choice and short answer tests and how productive these are in testing how much students know. Who was the person that came up with the idea of standardized tests and said it was the best way to test students? Who was it that said that “if you can’t do this by this specific grade level then you aren’t smart?” I really liked the quote that was given in class that said: “The question is not: are you smart? The question is: how are you smart?” I think this is very true. Every student is smart in their own individual way. When we standardize the way we test students on how much they know, we are taking away from their individual talents and the areas where they are the “smartest.”

For example, I also take a class called EDIT 2000 where you learn more about how to use technology in the classroom. The past week we had someone come and talk about creativity and how creativity is measured. Why is it important that we measure creativity? I have always thought that someone is just born more creative than others. What happens if you have your child’s creativity measured and it turns out they aren’t very creative? The speaker gave us all these different areas where the graders look to measure creativity, such as energy level, organization, planning, and detailed. Well for the people that grade these tests, what if their definition of being organized is different than another grader? Who are they to tell someone that their child is not creative because he doesn’t have a high enough energy level? How is “energy level” defined, and what energy level do you need to be considered creative? I think this is just an example that goes along with the idea of standardized tests. Who was it that said “okay this is what needs to be known by this grade level and if someone can’t answer this question they aren’t smart.” I think that students should have freedom in their learning and also freedom in testing of their learning. 

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Education- Don’t take it for Granted

Over spring break, I learned a lot about content literacy and education in general. I went to Haiti on a mission trip over the break. It was a serious eye opener to not only third world countries and how other people live in such poverty, but it also made me grateful and thankful for the gift of education.

In Haiti, more than 2/3 of the population is unemployed. The people live in very poor conditions with little food, unhealthy water, and barely any money. On my trip, we were partnering with an organization called Mission of Hope that is stationed in Haiti and seeks to provide help to the Haitian people by providing them food, schools, churches, medical clinics, and orphanages. They said that in their school systems, it costs about $4 a month to send one child to school. This may not seem like a lot of money, but I was amazed at the number of children who could not go to school because they did not have enough money.

One day we were walking around a village and we met this kid Greg that followed us around. He was about 14 and he originally told us that he was not at school that day because he was sick. Later, as we kept walking around, he told us that he had tried to go to school that morning but was turned away because he did not have enough money. That broke my heart. Sometimes in the US, we dread going to school and learning, while other places, kids are praying for an education and for enough money to go to school.

This aspect of the trip just made me realize how thankful we all should be that we have the opportunity to get a great education. It also made me very excited to be a teacher and share my love for learning with my students and hopefully increase their love for learning. It made me really want to teach my future students the importance of an education and how much they should appreciate it.

Another aspect of the trip that was somewhat difficult was the language barrier. In Haiti, they speak Creole, and every day we walked around with about 4 to 5 translators so that we could understand what the people were saying. Some people spoke English, but when they did not, it was difficult to understand what they were saying at times. Especially when we were playing with kids, I really wanted to be able to understand what they were saying to me and wanted to be able to talk with them.

I kind of thought about how this could relate to content literacy. Just as I couldn’t understand these kids, I thought about how important it is for students to understand what they are reading or hearing in a classroom. If they cannot make sense of anything they read, hear, speak, or communicate, they will not be learning anything or benefit from that class. 

Indecisions

For this post, I was able to talk about whatever I wanted to relating to what we are learning in class and content literacy. I had kind of a hard time with this, as I am used to being told what to do and how to do it in all my classes. I am not complaining, however, because I think it is nice to be given some freedom to write whatever I want every now and then. But I did find it somewhat difficult to come up with something to write about.

Last week in class, we talked about differentiation in classrooms and how not all students will be on the same learning level. We discussed how in a make believe situation, parents were mad at you as a teacher because some students were being given more and harder homework than other students, and we had to write a letter to the principal explaining our reasoning for doing this. I think that honestly, it is a lot easier said than done that we will follow these same procedures in our classroom. It is a lot easier to say that as a teacher, we will have different assignments and lessons for those students with greater and lesser learning disabilities. As I have talked about before, there is only so little time during the school year to teach content, and teachers are always crunched for time to meet deadlines and get things done. So adding additional work in terms of lesson plans and classroom planning to a teachers schedule would be very difficult.

However, I think it is imperative to take all students learning ability into consideration when teaching. This is part of being a teacher- helping students learn to the best of their ability. And not all students are on the same level. That’s just the way the world works. So I think it is extremely important to make sure that teachers spend the time they need to develop lesson plans and ideas that appeal to all different types of learners and their different levels of ability. 

Text Sets

This week I focused on creating my own text set for a math problem. The problem I wanted to create a text set for was:

“Allison purchased a $30 international calling card so that she could call her family while she is in France. Each call costs a service fee of $2.25 and 10 cents per minute. Allison only makes one call and talks until the card is used up.

 Create a table and write an expression that relates the number of minutes that Allison has talked and the amount of money Allison has spent. Assign symbols and describe which quantities the symbols represent.

 Create a table and write an expression that relates the number of minutes that Allison has talked and the amount of money left on Allison’s calling card. Assign symbols and describe which quantities the symbols represent.

 Graph both of these equations on the same graph.”

To create this text set, I first started with listing what the students would need to know to solve this problem. This is what I came up with:

What students would need to know:

–       equations/expressions 

–       variables

–       relating quantities

–       creating tables

–       graphing functions

I then used this information to find the components of my text set. This is my text set:

Resources:

1. http://www.khanacademy.org/math/algebra/linear-equations-and-inequalitie/equation-of-a-line/v/word-problem-solving-4

    – This website can help with similar math problems. It walks students step by step through similar problems, allowing students to apply these same steps to this particular problem.

2. http://www.amazon.com/Algebra-Survival-Guide-Conversational-Thoroughly/dp/0965911381

     – This book is awesome. It has also step by step explanations of algebra concepts, which the students can apply to this work problem.

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNjD4GeF96w

     – This video shows students how to create a table based on a word problem and graphical information. They can watch this video to show them how to create a table for this problem.

4. http://www.purplemath.com/modules/solvelit.htm

     – Purple Math is a great math website. This specific page can help students with knowing how to solve for variables and how to set up variables in an equation.

5. http://math.about.com/od/booksresourcesdvds/tp/Top-Apps-for-Algebra.htm       

       – This website has a list of awesome apps that can help with algebra. I have personally used wolfram alpha before and it is a great tool. Quadratic master would also be a great tool when starting quadratic functions, which aren’t used for this specific question, but is great when you do not have a calculator on hand. Also with so many schools going to BYOD (bring your own device), these apps could all be very useful. 

6. Iexcel.com

     – My 5th grade cousin told me about this. She has a log in and password. This website shows you the learning skills you need to know in different grades, and it also has practice problems and tools. This would be a great resource for solving this problem. They can go on this website, go to their grade and find what they are learning and do practice problems. My cousin said sometimes her teachers assign homework through this website, particularly around the time they are about to take the CRCT. 

7. Brainpop! 

     – Brainpop is a great website! At the middle school I was placed at last semester, my mentor teacher used this website a lot in her classroom. There are videos that you can watch that explain math concepts and also quizzes that go along with the videos. When I taught a lesson last semester, I used BrainPop. The students watched a video and then I had them take the quiz and I used this as an assessment.