Sunday, December 12, 2010

Project vs Tests

I have yet been able to see how well students do on projects but I have decided that perhaps in my own classroom I may decide to give large projects that display student's learning of concepts for a unit rather than tests. The only dilemma with that is that projects take time and if I have students work as groups then I cannot individually assess each student.


So we were trying to find something for our students to do for the last week before break. The criteria were that we did not want to start a new unit because students are more likely to forget during their long break, and we also did not want to create a lot more work for them especially because we only really have 3 in-class days in Algebra, we decided to do a project with cars that integrate concepts that we just had a test on. It may have been beneficial for students to do this project before the actual test.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gallery Walk

It would be a great idea to have students do posters about each "big picture" topics on content that we have covered so far. Then each group will have the opportunity to see everyone's description of each content and also they will have a say in the grading. Lastly, we would have public records in class that students can consistently refer to.

Is it my lesson plan or is it my students?

At times I have noticed that I have lesson plans that are thoroughly made however I cannot seem to captivate my students. Then I would have lesson plans that allows for lots of leeway and students will be on task during those lessons. Perhaps the success of my lesson depends on the mood of the students?


I found out about Wikispaces and instead of using Yola I can put up all my documents from all my classes since I began the Bothell program into a Wikispace which then allows me to have all my documents in one easy place to find. Love it!

Time Consuming Lesson Planning

I realize that planning a lesson for just one class is very time the thought that I would have to plan for two different classes is intimidating!

Lesson Planning

As I approach the last few lesson plans of my unit, I have found that I have less things to put on my actual lesson plans and rather put more information on the worksheets that I give in class. I find that it is much easier to hand write my lesson plans right on the worksheets rather than having to recreate the worksheet on to my lesson plans. It's almost like doing the work, twice.


The second week of my teaching unit 5, I encountered a dilemma that I still don't have an answer for. I want to incorporate more hands on projects in class for Algebra because I know there are many lessons that I can make more interesting except my CT and I discussed how I can make my lessons more interesting and I was told that based on the kinds of students that we have this year we might not be able to incorporate more projects. This is disappointing to me but at the same time I completely understood why this choice is made. Based on what I understand about my students, I have found that it would be more of a management class versus a learning experience, but on the other hand I could be just evaluating the outcome for myself rather than my students....still debating whether or not it is worth an entire school day to make the attempt. I don't want to be the one to waste away a day just trying to keep students on task.


Persistence does count for something! I have a student that makes the conscience choice to not to do any of the work everyday. I asked him why he did not want to do any work and he stated that he was just not motivated to do any of the work, he has failed the class before and this year will be no different. So instead of nagging him everyday to show me effort, I instead asked him everyday if it was a good day for him to try some work. After maybe three weeks of asking everyday if today was a good day, he finally said yes. Today was that day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time Given to do Problems on Your Own

During most of my lessons, I give students the opportunity to do problems on their own after I give an example of how to do it. What i have learned or was instructed to notice was that those students who were going to attempt the problem will do so as soon as they are instructed. But those students who take much longer to get started, extra time should not be given because they won't probably do the problem anyway. But another thing that I should do is walk around to encourage students to do the work so that I can monitor each student and make sure that the class time is used efficiently.


I asked for some friendly advice from a cohort about classroom management methods that they found to be successful and they indicated that taking the time to stop everything and reiterating the classroom norms is a good way for students to realize their behavior that may be deemed unacceptable. What's more is that if the norms/expectations are actually created and accepted by the class, it becomes an even more effective tool of management because then students become aware of how they may be acting contrary to their own rules.

Using the Waiting Technique for Classroom Management

Since I am not one to do much yelling, I thought that I would use the classroom management technique of waiting to get student's attention during a lesson. I found that it works, where some students do start telling each other to be quiet but after I start the lesson again the talking resumes. My CT advised me that after being silent, I must make sure that whatever I had to say next, I had to give the impression that it is very important. We tried to narrow down a specific example of what he meant by it because I was a bit confused but unfortunately we were not able to come up with one. At one point, when the silent treatment wasn't working, I did tell the class to let me know when they were ready to resume class and when they said they were ready they still were talking to each other so then I added, "if you guys are ready that means I'm talking and you guys are listening". I seemed to capture their attention for a little longer and then for some reason lost them again in about 10 minutes. I am still working on my classroom management skills and looking for any kind of suggestions short of a severe consequence (like handing out detentions). It's not just one student that misbehaves, at times it's the entire class.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Making Timely Posts

AAAAHH...!!! For the life of me I cannot seem to make my three posts by the end of the week! That is NOT TO SAY that I did not do it, I actually hand write my 'aha' moments in my field notebook and then I have to type them up and post them later because I do not have access to the site while at school. But I do have them written down...just not posted. One can suggest that I should just post it when I get home, but in most cases I get home from school with just enough time to grab something to eat before I have to go to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays or go tutor on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. By the time the weekend rolls around, I just want to veg out and completely forget to post my blogs. I'm making this post not so much to make an excuse (although I hope it does create an understanding) but I guess more to vent? =) least I have a start for this weeks posts.......

Day Off on a Thursday

Being that Vetran's Day was on Thursday, there was a no-school day on Thursday but here was school for Friday. My CT made the prediction that due to the untimeliness of the day off, there will be low attendance on Friday. So far, what I can see in first period, his prediction was correct which is a little bothersome because in some of the classes, the students have a group test on Monday which they will be practicing for in Friday's lesson. I guess for those students who came in today, they will have the advantage of studying with other students and getting teacher assistance with problems they have difficultly with.

Journal in Tutorials

Already three months into the student teaching program and I did not realize that we were supposed to keep a journal for each encounter. But it feels like in the AVID program, it is difficult to track the progress of two students since the groups made are sorted by the questions they bring to class which changes every week. Fortunately, I have been working with some students during PAWS but again-unbeknownst to me, I didn't realize that we were supposed to keep a journal and I am almost a month's worth of entries behind. I guess I can start my entries today-just as long as it satisfies the requirements.

Creating Lesson Plans in Advance

I have completed lesson plans for Monday and Tuesday next week but now I'm trying to finish plans for Wednesday but I seem to be stuck. I feel like I don't want to create lesson plans that I might want to change contingent on the outcome of Tuesday's lesson. Another reason I am concerned about the success of my lesson plan on Wednesday is that I have my observation that day and it is going to be in one of the most difficult classes (management-wise). I want the opportunity for feedback concerning my classroom management skills and I guess that was not evident in my last observation because the class was overall well behaved. Now I want to make a lesson plan for Wednesday using individual whiteboards to promote collaboration and give me the ability to quickly get a formative assessment of the students ability but that was contingent on how well the students worked with the whiteboards on Tuesday. So now, I am trying to think of a back up plan for a lesson that does not require much time content-wise....

Writing to Parents

When I discovered that i had to satisfy a PPA standard of establishing a communication with the student's parent-I was a little confused as to how I would be able to do such a thing short of contacting a parent with behavioral issues. Since my CT rarely contacts parents unless there is the utmost necessity, I asked him for some option of how to fulfill this requirement. He made a great suggestion that I should send a letter home with all of my students letting the parents know about who I am and that I will be taking over the class for the next couple of weeks and that this letter is merely informative. I should leave a contact number for me and that I have the capability to update/access grades so parents should feel free to ask me any questions concerning their child. The only question I have is-will this one letter (and any further contacts if parents decide to call during those weeks that I am teaching) fulfill completely that PPA standard?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

First Day of a Unit in PreCalculus

I find that it is incredibly difficult (although not impossible) to incorporate student discovery if it’s on the first day where a new unit has started. In a class like precalculus, when a new unit is introduced, there is a lot of information that needs to be given to students in order for them to proceed with each subsequent section of the unit. For example, before a student can do transformation to trig expressions they mush know trig identities and these identities or properties are given. I can see how we can let students explore the discovery of the Pythagorean expression by drawing a right triangle on a coordinate grid but this is mostly, these properties are given. Within a time constraint, it would be difficult to have students discover all the properties themselves. Whether or not students memorize the properties or discover their applications, it seems that just as long as they are able to recall this information is what counts (merely a statement based on observation and not an opinion).

Creating Lesson Binders

Usually you will have a lesson prepared prior to actually teaching the class but throughout the day you make changes to your lesson plan as you discover what works well and what doesn’t in class. As you make these amendments, you apply these changes to your future classes and at the end of the day you have a lesson plan that can be used for next year. If we take these lesson plans at the end of the day and put them in a binder, we would have a complete set of lessons already prepared to use for next year! (minding that adaptations will be made contingent on the skill level of each class-since that changes every year as well.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Equation Editor

While creating my lesson plans, I had to incorporate a lot of equations. I had to insert the object ‘Equation Editor’ and then once I click out of the highlighted area, the window for Equation Editor disappears. Then if I had to use it again, I would have to go to the task bar and insert an object again. This would not be as time consuming if I only had to use this function once but I was constantly using the Equation Editor and therefore would have liked to have the window open all the time. On one of the computers, this ability is available but unfortunately the one I’m on does not-until yesterday that is! We had a worksheet creator installed on the computer where I’m located that has the equation editor loaded on it, so now I am able to use the Equation Editor as a separate window! Fantastic! Then I went home to check that I have this capability on my Mac because again I was just inserting the equation editor as an object. Fortunately, Equation Editor on my Mac can be opened as a separate window by finding it under my applications! YAY!

Standards in PreCalculus

When I was creating my first lesson that will be observed, I realized how difficult it was to find the standards that my lesson will align with. I asked my cooperating teacher what standards he looks at when preparing for his lessons for PreCalculus and he stated that there are no true standards exactly outlined for PreCalculus. So I took my dilemma to class to make my inquiry there and I was given the same answer. What I have to do is pick out different standards outlined from other subjects (like algebra) and the general math standards and see what in my lesson covers those standards. It makes it more difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what standards I am trying to address in class, unlike Algebra where the standards being addressed are specifically stated.

Microphones in the Classroom

I went into a classroom where the teacher has a microphone that she wears around her neck and at the back of the class are the speakers (which I may add has great sound quality). This was provided to her from the school because of vocal difficulties she has but I thought it was a great idea for those who cannot seem to project their voices (such as I). It just feels like I’m yelling when I try to project my voice although, since I cannot hear myself from the back of the classroom so I cannot confirm if my “yelling voice” is necessary. I asked input from my CT regarding my teaching voice and there has been a few times where my volume had to be turned up but otherwise I am acclimating myself to the volume I need. I just feel that having a microphone is so official! =)

Put Me to Work

My cooperating teacher an I have developed a plan that I would start working with students during their PAWs break on their math assignments. I wanted to present some of them the opportunity to raise their grades up in math class, but initially I was thinking of providing them extra work that they can get points on to boost their grades. When it was decided that there would be no extra points awarded, I felt that I lost my “hook” to lure the kids into taking the time to work with me so I was a little bit hesitant in offering help to these students if they felt that they will no receive immediate rewards. However, when I approached the students, I asked them how they felt about their grade in math at the moment and when they responded that they are doing poorly, I asked them if they would like the opportunity to do better and they gladly agreed. I merely told them that I want to help them raise their grade by offering my time and assistance when they needed it. I think that they are really willing to work with me or their response was to merely get my out of their face. We shall see…


That feeling of being completely exhausted engulfed me on Friday. One would think that creating lessons and mentally and physically preparing for class would not be so difficult but ohhhh noo, it does wear one out. I think that the well-rested, casual and fluent demeanor that many experienced teachers carry so well can only come with time and practice-something that I am only starting to do. Also planning for my after school tutoring sessions also takes a toll on my time but I think it wouldn’t be as bad if the content aligned itself to the content I am teaching in school..but no, I have to prepare chemistry lessons after class while teaching math in school. =)

Creating Tests

I realize now how long it takes to make an electronic version of a group test. The original test was handwritten, and although it was very functional as-is, I thought it would be beneficial for my cooperating teacher to have a test stored electronically where the document can be easily edited without having to rewrite the entire test. Also, I really wanted to test out my new graph-making skills and what better way to do it than for a group test. Although the conversion was a much longer process than I anticipated-it was well worth the time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate graphs of various equations into tests/worksheets purely electronically. I can see how it is much easier to create our desired graphs on graph paper and then cut and paste but I think that by eliminating the middle step of creating graphs by hand, I would save some time. I knew that I could used excel to make my grids but I didn't feel it was user-friendly in creating more complicated equations aside from linear equations. Another option is using the ActivBoard program (which offers a free trial period) which allows you to create graphs, shapes and other various math-related materials on a flip chart. Then what ever you create on the ActivBoard program you can cut out the image and past it on to a word document. Although a person may not have the ActivBoard,they still have the ability to access the program.

Cheating During Tests

Here's a method to prevent cheating during tests-file folders. When students are arranged in groups that face each other, pass out file folders to each student and have them sit up the folders as if reading a book on their desks. The folders serve to shield wandering eyes from either a fellow neighbor or preventing your eyes from wandering away from your own test. Sometimes two folders are necessary for complete coverage.

Technology Fritz

It is an inevitability that if technology is used as part of a daily regiment that there's bound to be technical difficulties. One day while using an interactive white board two students were working on problems on balancing equations and one of the pens seemed to not make connections to the board however, after a few moments and some clicking here and there, the equation managed to get balanced and the students returned to their seats. After class, I brought up questions about student's willingness to participate in class despite obvious complications that other students have. It has come to my attention that these students what the opportunity to "play" on the interactive white board. They are eager to participate knowingly that they may have the unreliable pen. But for those students who may be a little more shy in being in front of the class, there is a tablet that a student can use at their desks that also has the same functions as the pen. I found it fascinating that such things exist-it's like a giant mouse pad that controls the over-sized computer monitor at the front of the class---->I love it! As I learn more technol0gy that can be utilized in the classroom, I am excited to experiment with each to find a district with these kinds of resources to hire me! =)

Common Based Assessment

In order for the 7th grade to be assess on what they have learned since the start of the school year, an entire district gives a common based assessment where 1 standard is addressed in each problem. The logic is that teachers do not want to double ding students point-wise when addressing whether they have properly displayed a Washington state standard. I asked why not create a problem where multiple standards are assessed and it was made clear that teachers wanted to make sure that students are getting all their points assigned to them if they display a particular standard. If the standard that the school was assessing was whether or not students know how to solve a one-step equation, it would not be fair to ding a student for computational error, therefore a students is able to achieve full credit for a problem even if the answer was wrong, just as long as it was evident that a student was showing that they understood HOW to solve the problems. The common-based assessment is used to inform teachers and the district where the student's knowledge is currently at and at this point it is only used as informative testing but teachers have the option of using these results to structure the student's placement in classes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Public Records

Public records are something that I've seen but I guess it's value in the classroom has never been properly explained to me. Public records are evidence of learning done in the class in regards to the material/ lessons given in class. A great benefit to public records is that they are up on the walls of the classroom where students can easily find them and refer back to them whenever they needed to. Not only will students have a reference within the classroom they can take ownership of some of the records (if they were created by they students). My only hesitation is that maybe students may rely on public records during tests, would that be appropriate? Will students be able to complete the material without the public records available? Are there definite strides in success made with public records?

Fact Triangles

One new method that was taught during my first couple of weeks in the alternative experience was something called fact triangles. These fact triangles can be sued to teach addition, subtraction, multiplication and division consisting of both positive and negative numbers. The transition made between the fact triangles and students being able to perform these mathematical operations without aids consists of students drawing on a number line and then writing a "rule(s)" that they believe works for each operation. I think that the way that each process was taught was fluid and most logically made sense as students worked out each they became familiar with the operations for positive and negative numbers. I think another benefit to using fact triangles is that they are versatile and it could be the one underlying method that all students can grow to be familiar with as they move on to other operations.


Can an aha moment be something I merely take note of? Because one thing that I have noticed in class was that the notion of the Washington State standards are always mentioned during class to the students. For example a statement like, "the state standards require that students be able to do____ fluently which means you guys should be able to do this math quickly and accurately..." would often be mentioned to students. By mentioning the requirements of state standards repeatedly, does this make a difference in how students may approach studying math? Could there be an age where this repetitive statement may be most effective in contributing to motivation?

Classroom Organization

Some of the greatest classroom management techniques I have found to be during my alternative experience. In the front of the classroom there are two trays where extra handouts are sorted according to grade level and beside those trays are charts on the wall that lists the daily assignments also for each grade level. If a handout was given on a particular day that a student was absent, that student can find all the assignments on this chart and handouts. This method helps assist students become responsible for their own work. I also like that if this management tool is implemented right at the beginning of the school year, students only need to be reminded to look at the assignment chart, thus eliminating the amount of the time it may have taken to look for the worksheets and the assignments given for the day.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"AHA" Moment #1

Monday was the first day in the alternative level experience and I was placed in a middle school in the north end. I have never to been to this school and in fact it was the first time I have ever heard of the district however, right away I was taken aback by the technology that was used in the classroom! In the current classroom that I am in technology is used on a daily basis, the ActivBoard practically replaces the entire white board and the majority of instruction is planned on a flip chart. I always hear about how technology can be integrated into the classroom, but I couldn't look past the possibilities of merely the doc cam and the graphing calculator.

What this instructor does is have all her lessons prepared ahead of time and writes on her slides while in front of the class. But as she is up there it's like she has a magic wand and she can flip through pages, add shapes, write in different colors and highlight when necessary. Today I had the privilege of seeing the use of E-clickers (not sure if that is the correct terminology) but it was used today as a tool for formative assessment. Problems were given on the board and students has to submit their answers, A, B, or C using the E-clickers. By using these E-clickers, the teacher was able to get a better understanding of the level of understanding that students in each class has on the current lesson.

One word....marvelous!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Field Observations

For my field observation, I focused on two students who I concluded had very different demeanors while in class. Whether or not they learn the content is still not completely clear however, I feel that deductions can be made. One of two students always stays on task during class hours, during PAWS (a 30 minute period during the day where students are able to seek help from a teacher from another class, work on homework from another class or silently read) I see that Esteban* works on assignments due for the current class or reads silently. Overall, Esteban has not spoken outloud during class, he does not volunteer answers but will answer if spoken to. Typically he works by himself and does not ask for assistance on his work. If asked about his progress, he quickly shows his work as evidence and states that he's doing just fine. The assignments given to students are clearly stated each day and therefore each student are expected to complete each task and therefore hopefully "learn" the material. For Esteban, the eye contact he makes with the instructor and also the notes he takes during class are evidence to me that he his learning. However, if that is not enough, his quiz scores also reflect some kind of knowledge absorption. Yet, the material so far could have been prior knowledge for Esteban and therefore would explain his success on the quiz and would not correctly assess whether or not he has learned anything "new".

The second student I observed has quite the opposite demeanor than Esteban. ChiChi hardly pays attention during class, in fact she talks quite a bit even during lectures. She writes down everything written on the board but hardly maintains eye contact with the instructor. When she asks for help, she needs to be led and she continues to have repeating questions. She makes conversation with the people around her and heckles other students who are across the room. I can't be certian that ChiChi has not learned anything in the class because I have seen her complete some of her assignments and also help her friend with some of the material presented in class however, her quiz scores reflect otherwise. If she is not chatting, I see her eyes wondering through out the room. I feel that she has the ability to complete all the assignments however, it appears that she may lack enthusiasm or motivation for the subject. (This is not an observation, merely an opinion in this case.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010


On the first day of school, I came into the classroom not knowing what I was in for. I was uncertain of what my clear role was going to be for these first few days in class--was I to be involved? If I was supposed to be involved, how was I to incorporate myself without feeling like I was intruding? Or am I to just speak when I was spoken to? Either way, I spent my first day of school sitting at a desk taking notes....for...all...5...classes! Might I say that they are some detailed notes! However, since I'm in two PreCalculus classes and three Algebra 1 classes, my notes became very repetitious which in the end makes sense since the material and lesson plans for each class should be the same. I saw how the dynamics of each class differed as each class period changed. Many freshman and a few sophomores are in the Algebra 1 classes and those classes tended to need the most reminders for the noise level while the PreCalculus class that consisting mostly of juniors also had a few volume adjustments but overall were easier to get back on the listening track.

My cooperating teacher did so kindly introduced me as the student intern to all his classes made them aware that I would be teaching some of the classes later on. I really do appreciate this introduction, my only fear is that students won't ask me for help because "it's not my turn" to be teacher but that is why I declare that tomorrow I will be a little bit more assertive in my intern role. It's not my cooperating teacher's responsibility to tell me what to do in class but to guide me and he is very willing and open to the suggestions that I have, it is my own assertiveness that I need to check.

Today I will continue to take very detailed notes, but I think as the day progresses I will have to put the pen down and start moving around the classroom because I'm really getting tired of writing. Tomorrow we have planned for me to take attendance to help me start memorizing the students' names and I'm excited!