Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Collaboration in High School

I write this Blog as a question to my fellow educators asking for your knowledge on how much collaborating occurs in the average high school math class. But first, a bit of background information.

In the school I have spent my brief teaching career in thus far the teachers and principal love the idea of collaborating. This occurs as an entire school community, through team teaching, and in the individual class itself. I have grown to love this concept and have fully embraced it. For example, I love throwing in random problems of the week and have my students work in pairs to solve them. I love incorporating real world tasks for my students to solve, as I believe this will be beneficial in the workforce.

For those who enjoy throwing problems at their students in order to see teamwork and cooperation, here is the link to the university of waterloo's POW.

However, I recently heard one of my colleagues saying that we should put our intermediate students back into rows as this is how classrooms are set-up in high school. He also mentioned how high school is much more independent than elementary school (this was one of our resource teachers by the way). Because I don't teach high school and can't really recall accurately how we learned on a  day to day basis I was hoping to hear some feedback from any of the high school teachers associated with this AQ

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Asking Effective Questions and Problem Solving

Blog Post Two:
Asking Effective Questions and Problem Solving

In my experience teaching Grade 7/8 homeroom math this year, it was a constant challenge to have my students become effective problem solvers. I found the reasoning for this to be two fold. Many of my students lacked the decoding strategies that were necessary to deconstruct multi-step and comprehensive mathematical problems. In spite of obvious connections made to a specific skill or unit, and an considerable knowledge and understanding of mathematical processes, many students did not know how to determine what they were looking for and accordingly had to be walked through the process of determining what information was important to parse out from the task.

I was deeply committed to helping my students build these skills because I could empathaize with the frustration and confusion they were feeling when they were trying to solve a nuanced mathematical problem. Growth mindset is something that is extremely important to me and my relationship with math was far from ideal throughout high school. Only later in my involvement in education did I realize how FUN math can be.

Rich tasks allow students to ask rich questions and use an inquiry based model to develop mathematical strategies. One of the best tools that I have found to help students learn to approach problems with confidence is one that is question focused rather than problem focused. When students have the opportunity to develop their line of mathematical inquiry and through guided teaching, determine the  type of questions that should be asked, they are not only more engaged with the material, but are more aware of the process that they need to determine the most accurate answer.  Three Act Math actively encourages students to become conversant with mathematical questioning.  It uses positive reinforcement to help the students learn the types of questions that should be asked, how to communicate their mathematical thinking and how to achieve the desirable end result. This type of instruction brings real world problems to the forefront of math learning and encourages students to approach new tasks with a positive attitude and a questioning mind.

Blog Post One: Math Talks

Math Talks

Math talks help students actively develop new ways of thinking about numbers. Math talks encourage students to use their prior knowledge about math, make meaningful connections to mathematical problems and communicate their mathematical understanding in a clear and concise way.

Math talks are extremely accessible, help develop growth mindset, and allow for the participation of learners of all ability levels. One of my favourite Number Talk websites was developed by educator and mathematician, Mary Bourassa. The number talks she, and other collaborators have developed ask students to use their knowledge of number sense to determine which of four numbers does not belong.  What is amazing about this exercise is that ALL students, regardless and ability can engage in this type of rich and open discussion. Answers can be incredibly simple or more comprehensive and nuanced.

These talks are a great way of determining a students level of comfort with different curriculum strands, encourages class discussion and helps a teacher determine a students depth of mathematical understanding.


My "go-to" websites for Gr 7/8 Math

My "go-to" websites

This year, I have relied on a few amazing websites that help me to teach math in a more meaningful and interesting way. I thought I would share these sites with you! 

https://tapintoteenminds.com/ - If you haven't heard of this website already, you are missing out! This is a great place for teachers because they make math lessons that apply to real life! They supply you with lesson plans, iPad apps, book reviews and more! 

http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/vlibrary.html - This website provides you with virtual math manipulatives. Again, it is nicely organized by Grade and Topic, so it is easy for you to find what you are looking for. If you students are hesitant to use manipulatives, you can try using these virtual manipulatives! We know that students are always more engaged when technology is involved! 

http://www.oame.on.ca/clips/ - This website is great because it is organized by Grade and Topic. Your students can visit this website and practice a specific skill you are working on in class.

Youtube channels

Youtube channels for the 7/8 Math class

Today I would like to share a few Youtube channels that I have found to be useful in Grade 7 and 8 Math classes. I incorporate videos into my math lessons a lot and my students love them! Some of them are a bit cheesy but the kids really respond to them and the ideas in the videos stick with them! 

Check out the following channels:

If there are some other channels that you love, please let me know!