Wobbling while Teaching

As a teacher, I am constantly learning new things from fellow teachers, my students and life events that happen around me.  There are days when I feel like I am not a good teacher or that I really messed up a lesson.  Some days those feelings get so strong that I want to give up.  But that is when a colleague or friend makes a comment or shares a story with me that seems to be similar to my own experiences.  They help ease my wobble so that I don’t completely topple over.

Some of the biggest areas of teaching that I constantly struggle with are the following:

  1. How can I really get through to all students, not just the ones that pick up material the fastest or are strongest in math?
  2. What can I do to make lessons more enjoyable and fun for students?
  3. What activities can I incorporate in the classroom to create a more student-driven learning environment?
  4. How can I make a bigger impact on my students that they will carry with them even after they graduate?
  5. What changes can I make as an educator that will not only benefit me, but also my students?

I find it so easy to think of these things over and over again, but the everyday time crunch to get through a curriculum can easily hide those feelings.  Grading tests, making copies and getting class started on time can easily appear to be more important than actually exploring ways to grow as an educator. While grading quizzes over the weekend for both my Pre-Algebra  and Geometry students, I found myself thinking of a wide range of questions pertaining to their work.

  • Did I not spend enough time teaching this topic?
  • Were my students even listening when I taught this or were they too busy having their own conversations?
  • Was this student absent when we did this?
  • Why don’t they just read the directions? I tell them what to do if they would only read them!
  • Do the other teachers get grades like this?
  • Why don’t they study?
  • How can I help them understand the mistakes so that they don’t make the same ones on their test?

Normally after a test or quiz is graded I hand them back and we go over all of the answers together.  The students have their papers in front of them so they can follow along and see what mistakes they made and how to fix them.  Some students don’t even bother to flip the page.  If a student does pretty poorly on a quiz, I ask them to come in during their lunch period so that we can go over it together.  When I was sitting with one student doing this, I asked him if he studied and what he did to study.  He simply said he skimmed over his notes and checked his answers for the review.  He admitted that he did not spend as much time studying for his test as his should have.  As we went through the problems that he got wrong and made the corrections he seemed to understand the problems better.  However I thought to myself, if I would not have specifically told him to come in he would have never been able fully understand his mistakes.  Why don’t all students want to understand fully? Why do I feel like I have to force them to get extra help so that they can do well?

I don’t expect to ever have the answers to all of my questions as a teacher. In fact, I can only see my list of questions growing as I continue teaching. This is TOTALLY normal!! It is not something that only I am doing, but teachers everywhere ask the same questions.  When I speak to my colleagues about students that we share I find that I am not the only one feeling some of the things I do.  This really is helpful as a teacher.  It gives us common interests and things to talk about.  I can find ways to spin my questions in a positive way that can help me grow and learn as a person.  Learning from colleagues helps ease my wobbling.  I will never feel completely steady when it comes to teaching, but being surrounded by awesome teachers who get it definitely helps!

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Seek and Steal 7 + 1 Week 5

This week has been quite crazy. Since I am posting on Monday rather than Sunday, I decided to make this a 7+1 post.  Also since I have found and learned so much through reading the blogs of my classmates, I decided to call this a seek and steal.  I am “stealing” things that I found or read from their blogs that I found to be extremely useful to me as a teacher and worth sharing with other. Thank you to my classmates who make this class so meaningful!

1). First I am stealing this website from Christopher’s blog.  I checked it out and he was completely accurate in saying that it is exactly what I think Connected Learning is all about.

2). I saw this quote on questteach’s blog that I agree with completely.  As a teacher I feel that I am constantly growing and learning from other teachers around me.

“A key to growing as a teacher is to keep company mainly with teachers who uplift you, whose presences inspire you and whose dedication drives you.” – Robert John Meehan

3). I watched this video on Teaching while Learning’s blog and felt that it was too good not to share. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6vVXmwYvgs

4). While reading Michael Kudosh’s blog reflection for this week I began to laugh out loud.  His comments for the week with his students were comments that I find myself making on a regular basis.  It was reassuring to know that someone else felt to same way as I did!

5). Danny C’s blog shared shared the 10 steps to equity.  This is a good read for all educators!

6). I watched this video through Katie’s Blog post and wanted to share.  It is a good reminder that students have incredible imaginations which can be forgotten as students get older.

7). On Live Laugh Love Teach’s blog I read this quote from Dr. Seuss.  “If you never did you should. These things are fun. And fun is good.”  Something all of us should keep in mind.

+1). Adding to all of the amazing things my classmates posted, I want to end with this quote about teaching…

“Our job is to teach the students we have. Not the ones we would like to have. Not the ones we used to have. Those we have right now. All of them.” – Dr. Kevin Maxwell

Often times I find myself comparing current students to previous classes and thinking of all the “what ifs.”  This was a good reminder to stay in the moment and worry about the impact I can make right now with the students I currently teach.

Making Math FUN in 7 ways

Math is usually not everyone’s favorite subject, but I thought if people could see how fun math can be I could change some minds!

  1. Who doesn’t love a great math game website?? This one covers all the basics and works for all ages! Cool Math
  2. Math Playground  is another great website that breaks games down by grade level for students to play.
  3. Using games we already love such as connect 4 and putting a math twist usually works.  Kids know the rules already and they can practice math skills! Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 1.43.13 PM
  4. WAR is classic card game that can be used in math class if you have some time to kill.  Instead of playing traditionally with the highest card winning, change the rules and have the students flip two cards each time and multiply the values. This allows students to practice multiplication skills while playing a game of cards!
  5. Kahoot! is a great game website to use in the classroom especially when it comes to math.  The students are able to answer questions while earning points in hopes to be the winner.  This is engaging because all students answer the questions while making it a bit competitive.  Teachers also can see a report of all of the questions answered correctly/incorrectly per student.
  6. Math Game Time not only has games broken down by grade level, but also has videos and worksheets to practice math skills.
  7. I came across Rachel’s blog on Pinterest and use her dice games in class whenever I have 5-10 minutes to kill!

Playing with Blackout Poetry

Playing Games for an assignment was definitely not something I expected in Grad school, but I did it with a smile 🙂

I decided to try some Blackout Poetry.  I have heard of it a few times before and it always seemed quite interesting.  English teachers that I work with have their students try it in class and it always seems to be a hit.  I used a page from a love story and blacked out the lovey context and searched for a bit deeper of a meaning.  While I was blacking out words and sentences it felt like I was truly making something completely new and all my own.  Writing a poem from scratch can be intimidating as you stare at a blank page, using someone else’s words and changing them to make your own was was less daunting.

I must say, seeing the words disappear under the black marker was thrilling.  I never think of myself as a very creative person, but today  I was 🙂 Enjoy!

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Super Bowl Sunday 7

In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, here are my top 7 of the week… GO BIRDS!!!

1). In the evolution of an accidental meme I found an example of equity in fantasy football that I found to be interesting. Equity in Fantasy Football

2). I loved the perspective from this empowerment remix!

3). I found this image on Pinterest (since I am on Pinterest at least once a day). I thought it related to our discussions about equality. Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 12.16.44 PM

4). I really enjoyed reading my classmates post about participation in the math classroom!

5). I currently am enrolled in the STEM program at Arcadia as well.  I saw this comparison of STEM and STEAM which was very much relatable to our discussions this week.

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6). Football brain teaser that I found on Pinterest was a hit with my students on Friday!

7). A beautiful quote to end on…

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Equity with a Twist

This week my class has focused on this popular image demonstrating the difference between equity and equality.

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As part of our class discussion, we had to take this image and try to remix it.  After spending quite a bit of time trying to figure out what I could possibly remix this into, I decided to stay true to something I do everyday.  That is teaching math.  So often I find that even in a leveled math class I am faced with teaching students of all different learning styles.  In an Algebra 1 advanced class I have students who understand material on the first try, those we need a few extra examples and those who will never fully understand the material.  This struck me as being incredibly similar to the photo comparing equity vs equality.

Students who are placed in the same math class are all equal in the sense that the level, curriculum and assessments that they take will be the same.  However, their level of understanding will not be the same no matter how hard they try.  Some students will understand quicker than others and that produces the lack of equity in my opinion.  I decided to use this as my remix for the photo.  While I am NOT an artist in any way, I also am not very good with photo shop.  So I decided to give my drawing a shot using a piece of paper and a pencil.  Here is what I came up with …

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Students learn everyday in class regardless of the subject, but true understanding of the material is very different.  My goal as a teacher is to reach all students regardless of learning style to help them reach that level of understanding.  This assignment reminded me of that this week.

Search 7 Sunday #S7S

Week of 1/22/18

  1. Who doesn’t LOVE Pinterest nowadays??? I am constantly searching for ways to engage my students in different ways and came across this website that has a great collection of ideas for multiple subjects.  Some are STEM related and others just sparked an idea for me. Enjoy! http://creativecleverandclassy.com/free-stem-websites.html
  2. I showed my students this TED talk video involving Pixar’s use of math when it comes to making movies.  It is short but can definitely capture the attention of a class or fill up the last few minutes if needed! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IZMVMf4NQ0 
  3. This shot from the video assigned in class for this week (speech by John Seely Brown called The Global One-Room Schoolhouse (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. This animation is based on a keynote he gave in 2012 at the Digital Media and Learning Conference. )really stood out to me.  Connected learning stresses that you simply cannot do it alone.  John says, “Just being able to learn as individuals is not enough.”Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 2.36.03 PM
  4. When I was reading Critical Literacy and Our Students’ Lives by Linda Christensen, I found what she said very relatable.  The newspaper calling her student’s disadvantaged just didn’t sit right with me.  Students cannot choose the area they live in or the families that they are born into.  What gives us the right to label them or make them feel inferior.
  5. I really enjoy reading all of the blog posts from this class! It is reassuring to know that we all go through similar emotions and situations each day.  I really related to Katie’s Blog post about Marginal Syllabus.  I am much more of a paper annotator as well! Felt good to know I am not alone in this 🙂
  6. I came across this image for connected learning and thought it was very simple yet direct. connected-learning
  7. I found this quote while viewing an article titled ” Strategies for Teaching Middle School Math” by Tim Hudson.  I find that as a math teacher, most students are programmed to think that they are not good at math.  Here is the quote…”Because many students mistakenly believe that success in mathematics requires remembering countless unrelated facts, they have a tendency to disengage, give up, and assume a fixed mindset in math.”