December 4, 2011

Week 16: Paired Reading

I have been slacking on these reflection posts. Tsk tsk. Anyways, this past week I have been focused on paired reading. This was a perfect fit for my word problems. I had students pair up, and the activity required them to read, summarize, and then solve the word problem. Reflections will be broken down by class period.

1st hour: Did not do a paired reading activity. This was a bummer, because I think it would have helped some students. I was behind with this class, so we skipped the activity in order to catch up.

3rd/4th hour: They did great with this activity. I break my students into low, medium, and high groups. I think the group that benefited the most was my medium group. I worked with them, and they were finally starting to realize where to put the given numbers.

5th/6th hour: Only one of the three groups was stellar. My low group consists of students who are anywhere between a 2nd and 5th grade reading level. For them, I had to modify the activity. I read to them, and they had to summarize. We did two summaries together before I let them try on their own. These kids tried, but I don't think they got as much out of the activity as I would have liked.

All in all, I would definitely do this again. I will work to incorporate more of this into my classroom.

November 7, 2011

Week 12: Rally Coach

My focus for this week was Rally Coach, a Kagan group structure activity.

I tried it out with my Algebra blocks last week. The first group was mediocre. Live and learn. By the end of my 3/4 block, I had it pat down. My 5/6 block went flawless. I tried Rally Coach today with my regular Algebra kids, and they did pretty well with it. They were able to work together, and I didn't have to run around the room as much trying to answer questions.

The one difficulty I found was with my low groups. Since they were at about equal ability levels, it was difficult to pair them together and hope one would coach the other. I'll have to ask my mentor about that, because I'm not sure how to make that go better with my low groups.

I hope to make this a regular activity in my class. We shall see!

October 31, 2011

Week 10: Recapitulation

My closure dilemma was solved with this baby: Recapitulation! Say that ten times fast. My regular algebra kids were impressed with such a huge word. Some even practiced pronouncing it correctly and showed off their skills to me. It was pretty funny.

Anyways, back to recapitulation. At the end of each lesson, I put up a question or a prompt that is meant to "recap" the lesson. I have asked students to list the important facts of a lesson, solve a problem, explain a process, think of a headline to summarize the lesson, and write potential quiz questions.

So far it seems to be working. All, except two or three students, are able to complete the recap by the time class is over. I've had to adjust my teaching, and I now force myself to end about ten minutes early. I have yet to see any results (i.e. test scores), but I will know soon enough if this is providing extra reinforcement or not.

October 10, 2011

Week 9: Closure

Teaching two algebra block classes, I forget to wrap up in my station. It never occurred to me that even doing small group work, I should still be doing a closure activity with students (duh...I know). Enter my focus for week 9.

My mentor gave me a list of closure activities that were actually practical to math. YAY! I, unfortunately, did not get to test run all of them. I stuck with the basic think-pair-share and summarizing key points aloud.

Right now we are on fall break, so I am thinking of ideas to incorporate more closure into my lessons. I am thinking I could do something like a bellwork at the end of the hour, except it would be focused solely on closure. I look forward to doing other less commonly used forms of closure, so this focus will continue in a couple weeks from now. In the meantime, I can relax. :)

October 4, 2011

Week 8: Spreading the wealth

Last week I focused on tracking participation. I continued on that focus this week as well, but I added another element. This week I wanted to make sure I was not always calling on those students who were not listening to me during a lesson. I noticed from last week that when I saw a student off task, I was more likely to call on that student to answer one of my questions. I wanted to even out the attention I give to different students.

For the most part, instead of calling on the student(s), I was able to give a warning or consequence. I reminded myself not to call on the rule breakers. I made sure to have different people go up to the Starboard. Overall, I believe my participation is going pretty well!

Something I continue to struggle with is distributing my help to students. Some students really need more individual attention than I have time for. I want to help them, but when I have four other students asking for help as well...I get flustered. Oye. What to do, what to do? So far, I usually end up moving on and asking a stronger math student to help out. That's all I've got. I need more ideas!

September 25, 2011

Week 7 Focus: Structured Participation

This past week's focus was structured participation. I am lucky enough to have a handful of students who are always participating and volunteering to share their work on the whiteboard for the class. However, I noticed that I am doing a poor job of checking for understanding with my more reserved students. My solution: call on every student in each of my classes. Enter my focus.

How does one keep track of participation? I decided to make a copy of my seating chart and put it in a page protector. In one class period, I was able to check off every student's name (that means everyone answered one of my questions). Great! Except, I now see that the real battle will be getting each student to come up to the whiteboard. So after one day, I turned my attention to the boardwork. I think it's easy for me to call on every student to answer questions, but I find it harder to get each student up to the whiteboard. For now, I will continue to use my seating chart to track participation.

How do other teachers track participation? And maybe I am digressing a little, but what are some different ways you check for understanding?

What is TIP?

As a first year teacher, the district provides me a teacher mentor. Each week I spend two hours with my mentor. We spend one hour conferencing where I decide a focus for my week. During the second hour, my mentor visits my classroom later in the week to observe how I am doing with my focus.

My goal here is to reflect on how I did with my focus, as well as seek advice from fellow educators regarding my focuses.