Skip to main content

Encouraged, Again

Last Monday I was feeling overwhelmed. I go through these phases when I plan ahead, get a few days worth of lessons/notes put together, and then I get through one day and realize I'm not really ready for the next day at all because things didn't go the way I planned. These phases often leave me frustrated and irritated that I spent time up front that seems to be wasted. In the long run the time spent is not wasted, but it's still frustrating to *think* you're ahead and then *realize* that you're just as far behind as you normally are, despite the extra time you put in.

Anyway, that's how I was feeling Monday. And Tuesday I was supposed to get observed for the first time this school year. "Great," I was thinking, "just great." I had a less-than-stellar lesson planned, introducing graphing one-variable inequalities and solving one-step inqualities. Not something normally covered in Alg1 (it's a middle school concept), but that's what my kids need. I sent my lesson overview to my principal the day Monday and continued brain-storming ideas on how to make it more interesting.

I arrived Tuesday morning, less frantic than Monday (did I metion that I slept through my alarm on Monday morning, too...talk about a rough start to the week), and prepared myself mentally for the lesson and observation. Class started and I knew it was going to be a good day. I picked my best class for this observation. To provide some sort of closure from the day before and transition to the new topic, I had 2 students present problems from earlier (one- and two-step equations).

I was blown away as they were presenting. Without my prompting, they were explaining why the balance method for solving equations worked.
ex. 4x-7=9. I first added 7 to both sides because it's the opposite of the negative 7 that you have right now. I can cancel out the -7 and +7 because they equal zero. Then 9+7 is 16. I pull down the 4x = 16. Next I need to divide because it's the opposite of the multiplication that's happening now. I end up with x = 4
This type of reasoning and explanation never happened voluntarily in my classes last year. It's something I really have been working on with the students by asking a lot of "Why?" and conceptual questions. While the student was presenting, I kept thinking, "He's answering every question that I would have asked him!"

Later in the class, I found a way to make a boring part interesting by having the kids move around a bit. They needed to decide whether or not to flip the inequality. If it needed to be flipped, they stood up. If it could stay, they stayed sitting. One student made a mistake and stood up when the rest were still sitting. He felt silly at first, but his neighbor looked at him and explained why it didn't need to be flipped. He even gave an example of a situation (using the same numbers) where it would need to be flipped.

I was astounded. I love my job because I get to see things like that happen. I get to see kids grow and learn and teach each other. And I get to sit back and just watch sometimes! LOVE it. *smile*

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Confession...I'm planning to use Khan Academy this year

It seems Khan Academy (henceforth referenced as KA) has a pretty bad rap in some math teacher circles.  I understand that the videos are somewhat lacking in the engagement factor, and motivating students with points and badges can seem somewhat elementary.  I also see that KA tends to focus more on a procedure/pattern than actual problem solving. 

All that said, I will be using KA this year in my resource classroom.  I have a group of students that are in my class for numeracy skill building/strategies instruction.  I'm supposed to be teaching them 25 mins/day and allowing them 25 mins/day to work on their homework or classwork.  I have students of all grade and ability levels in one resource class, so lesson planning becomes difficult.  Twenty-five minutes is not a long time when you think about it, seemingly less when you think about real problem solving tasks.

Enter KA.  Each student can be working on exercises related to what their individual math course is or will be addressi…

Help!

Here's the deal:  I'm working on curriculum for my school and Algebra 2 is making my eyes cross.  I think the major problem is the state of Virginia is in a transition year between "old" Standards of Learning (SOLs), and "new" ones.  This year is supposed to be the year that we're still teaching and assessing the old SOLs, but we're supposed to teach the new ones, too.  Those of you that teach Algebra 2 already know that there's an enormous amount of information to cover in a short period of time.  To give you context, our school teaches it as a semester-long block course.  There's only so much a brain can handle in one day, though! 

Here's the first draft of my skills list and structure...I'm not sure what to do about the old vs. new SOLs (my skills list is based on the old SOLs because that is what will be assessed).

Note:  Gray items are not included in old or new SOLs but might be necessary for student understanding
Blue items ar…

ASL/English Vocabulary in the Math Classroom

My last semester in college, while I was student teaching, I had a class that emphasized different key topics in the field of Deaf Education.  One such topic was vocabulary development.  We all already knew that students who are deaf/hard of hearing have a lower vocabulary than their same-age hearing peers for a variety of reasons not least of which being their limited access to "incidental learning" that comes from listening to other people's conversations/tv/radio, etc.  In our class, we talked about ways to introduce new vocabulary in order to give students a more connected understanding of the new word in its five distinct forms.
PictureDescription/definitionASL sign (if applicable)English word (in print)Fingerspelling of English wordI try to be conscious of this as I teach.  It's very difficult sometimes, and many of the math terms to not have standard ASL signs, so it is more difficult for the students to attach meaning and use the new term through fingerspellin…