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.