As I start to think about leaving this classroom I have so many different emotions. I have come to know these students really well and I’m certainly sad to leave them. I am excited and happy at the same time though because it means I have completed my undergraduate degree! Three and a half years ago the though of finishing my degree seemed so very distant, I could hardly fathom it. I am also feeling a bit uneasy and perhaps slightly scared as the end of college means I have to venture out into the “real world” where jobs are certainly not a guarantee. I surely hope I can find a teaching job that I love!

It is my hope that the students I have had the pleasure of teaching this semester have learned as much from me as I have learned from them. I have noticed that the theory of building positive relationships with students is truly the most important part of teaching. Establishing these relationships opens the door to so many different teaching opportunities. Learning happens in our normal classroom lessons, but it is the extra help that so many students need. I have encouraged the students to come see me in the morning and during this time such great things happen!

I am sure that what I have learned this semester will translate into whatever I end up doing in the future. I will never forgot so many of the things that happened.

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On an unrelated note…I have a lot of thinking about the near future to do this weekend. I have been offered a long term sub job in an English classroom. I have a meeting/interview on Monday morning for a biology long term sub job and I also have an interview on Monday for a math interventionist job. I cannot do them all. I could do the interventionist position or the other two (they don’t overlap). I guess we will see how it all pans out. I hope I get interviews like this for a full time position next fall!!

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It seems that people are wired to be able to learn in many ways. Depending on the topic, one learning style might be more beneficial but more likely seeing things done in many different learning styles helps because it is repetition. In the classroom , it is important to model using different learning styles because it helps drill the topic but in multiples way. One student might remember a certain method better, but seeing it different ways is advantageous to all.

In my classroom, I plan to address topics in several ways including visually, orally, and written. I also want to bring in differentiation to help my students learn. At times, I may differentiate by ability but I could also differentiate by giving choices that cover different interests of my students. This seems like an overwhelming task at times, yet it is important in order to help my students grow as learners.

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This class is right after lunch and is often quite chatty. I attempted to make a lesson that would increase our communication and collaboration skills, because as a class they are struggling with these skills as we change to the common core standards. I’ve noticed my students desire to simply be robotic in mathematics, we have to get away from that! I want to teach them to think and problem solve.

The activity I had planned didn’t go as well as I hoped it would. We ran out of time to fully make the connections I intended. The first activity where the students needed to group themselves into fours (one graph, one equation, one slope, and one y-intercept) was supposed to let the students review slope intercept form and connecting the equation to it’s graph as well as showing how some systems of linear equations have no solution. We did not get to the part where the students were supposed to find another group with the same slope as them to create a system with no solution.

The second activity was intended to review transforming equations in standard form to slope-intercept form. By finding a partner whose equation transformed to the same equation in slope-intercept form, the goal was to establish an understanding of systems with infinitely many solutions.

I hope to try this activity again and make some adjustments so it works better. I know I need to explain the directions better, perhaps I could write them out and have them posted on the board so the students can refer back to them. I really like the skills that this activity could help the students learn.

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The quiz covered sections 2.1-2.4. It was about using a table to graph a line, calculating slope, slope-intercept form, and graphing by finding the x and y intercepts. From my informal assessment, I knew that there was quite a range of understanding in my classes. I knew many students were understanding the process, but others really didn’t grasp the entire concept.

With having to do the MEAP the past few weeks, the lessons haven’t been completely normal. Four days out of the past two weeks had short class periods of only 30 minutes. Yet, I didn’t feel as if we were rushing through the sections. I strategically picked the less complex lessons to teach during those short class periods. We only covered one concept per day. I did give short homework assignments though. I gave them worksheets that covered the concepts well but were only about 10 problems long. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with work during the MEAP weeks. The students have been really lazy about homework though. They “complete” it but they don’t actually read all of the directions. For example, they transform an equation into slope-intercept form but then they are asked to graph it and they don’t! This is a key concept…they must make the connections between the equation and graphs as well as between the table and the graph. I gave the students a stern talking to about the issues I have been seeing with homework. I said if it didn’t improve for the next day’s homework assignment, they would earn themselves extra problems. Well…they certainly earned the extra problems.

The problem is, the same issues I saw on their homework appeared on the quiz! I just don’t understand how to “teach” someone to care about the quality of the work they are doing. I want them to see that there is a direct relationship between how much effort they put in and what they get out (including both learning and grades). I am at a loss of how to change this…I can control what happens in my classroom but I can’t control what they do at home.

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Project based learning seems like it is one alternative. If students are working in a group though to complete a project, how can we assess each individual’s learning? I personally have never been a huge fan of group projects because I typically felt that I was taking on a majority of the work. To look at the other side of the coin though, society functions in a similar way. In a job you are not tested on what you know, rather you are expected to perform and work together with coworkers to accomplish tasks that benefit the company.

I am just thinking aloud here, but I really wish we could find a way to reduce the amount if time we spend formally testing our students but still be able to gather the same kind of individualized data.

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From the observation notes, I noticed that I often ask the same questions. In some aspects this can be good, because the students know what I am expecting, but as a whole I don’t think I want to work to change this. I want to constantly engage the students in mathematical thinking, not just letting them go through the motions.

One highlight of this lesson for me, was diving into common misconceptions. I hadn’t necessarily planned on doing that today, but it seemed to fit well so I decided to give it a try! I like having students identify errors in order to understand why that way does not work so they can in turn avoid it as well!

In the debriefing part of the observation, we discussed several things I would like to implement in my every day teaching. I am going to conscientiously make an effort to have the students discuss with their neighbor often so I can hear responses from several people on one topic. Also, I really like the idea of having students write down the answer to a question I pose, my only worry with this is that it could get time consuming to do walk arounds so often. The set up of my classroom, which my CT doesn’t really want to change, isn’t the most conducive to getting to all the students quickly.

I do want my students to become independent math students where they can think and reason mathematically without having to be spoon fed so often. I feel that we need to work on problem solving and critical thinking. I want to implement more collaboration and communication between the students. I believe I received several good suggestions today and I look forward to trying them out in the days ahead!

Quick side note: I tried some of these techniques just this afternoon and I liked the results! Using “thumbs up/down” for agree or disagree and stimulating a class discussion was cool to see. The discussion did not quite bring about the necessary points, but it helped me know what they were thinking and a base for my explanation.

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To me, missing negatives, writing the problem wrong, or just plugging things into the calculator incorrectly are mistakes that should seldom be happening at this level! The problem is that I don’t know what else to do to help my students overcome these silly mistakes. Personally, getting points off on quizzes and tests continually would be motivation enough to pay attention to the details.

I have talked to several other math teachers and they are having the same feelings as I am. It seems no matter how many times you say it, the students still forget negatives–it kills me! The worst part is I see them solving the equations completely correct, but when they actually write their final answer they just forget to write the negative sign! I have an inner struggle about if I should or shouldn’t take points off for that. I think, “okay, I’m testing them on solving equation skills and they did that correctly” but at the same time I think, “the answer simply isn’t correct and they should not get rewarded for carelessness.”

I just hope I am able to find a way to encourage my students to be careful and meticulous in their mathematics in order to prove that they fully understand the topic. Any suggestions on how to do this would be much appreciated!

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My first two hours of the day are both Algebra 1 classes while my afternoon classes are normal 8th grade math courses. There is a noticeable difference in the attendance rates of these two courses. Typically we have 0-1 missing in Algebra but in 8th grade math it is more like 4-5 absent.

With people gone each day, it makes the job of teaching WAY harder! I find it hard to keep track of all of the work students need to make up. I have to help them make up the homework assignment, the Checkpoint Quizzes we do multiple times a week, the in class notes, etc. In 8th grade, it seems it is still partially my responsibility to ensure the students complete their missing work. Even though this is complicated, I can handle it and I know it will get easier as I continue to teach and make my own system. Yet, I feel like the main question I am debating is, when students are absent is it better to have then make up the work (like a quiz or test) as soon as they return and miss another day’s lesson or, have them do the lesson with us and make up the work at another time? Neither seem to be a great answer, I wonder if there is something better. It becomes complicated if students need to come in and make up a test at lunch, before school, or in home room because they often can’t finish it in one sitting. That doesn’t seem right to me…I believe could give them an unfair advantage. Yet, if I have them make it up during class time they just end up farther behind by missing yet another day’s lesson. Does anyone have suggestions, what is the best way to do this?

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The article, “Changing Assessment Practices in an Algebra Class, or “Will This be on the Test?”” addresses many of the feelings that I have about ways we assess students in math classes today. I have witnessed a shift in mathematics teaching from the time I was taught Algebra in 7th grade to the way I am being encouraged to teach it currently. The attempt to teach math through investigation, reasoning, and critical thinking in hopes of creating a deeper ulster standing of the subject is quite different than the rote memorization and “drilling” that I experienced as a student. Yet, the practice of assessment seems relatively unchanged. Logically this just doesn’t make sense- why would we emphasize deep thinking when we teach but then not require that when we assess? Because its easier? Perhaps. Murphy makes a simple statement, “what we assess communicates what we value,” so if we truly value reasoning and investigations we must change our assessments! (248) Now, this seems easier said then done but when I am given the opportunity to have my own classroom, I hope to move in this direction. I know it will take a lot of time and practice but is apparent that if we actually want students to improve “they need to have these skills, but they also need more” (Murphy, 248).

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