Sharing information helps everyone

I decided to follow a new math blog this week. The previous one I followed hasn’t posted in a few weeks and I decided to take it upon myself to see what other types of math blogs are out there. I found an interesting blog titled I Speak Math. When I came across this blog I found a post about creating a pool of math bloggers providing information available in a central location. The specific blog post is titled Support Math Bloggers-MS Sunday Funday!

Teacher/bloggers covering a variety of different math subjects work together to create a selection of different blogs that can be used for ideas in the classroom. Sharing ideas is the best way to be an effective teacher. If a teacher finds a method or teaching style that works, sharing it with co-workers and fellow teachers only improves the teaching styles of everyone. I really enjoyed this blog because it provided me with some resources that I can use in the classroom.

I plan to start creating a database of resources I can use in the future. I have found numerous ideas that I feel will help me in my teaching career. Supporting math bloggers= supporting math teachers. If we share, we all succeed.

Experiencing new people through technology

The blog I have been following has not had any recent posts in the last week. Therefore, I decided to take a gander at the archives. In doing so, I came across a blog on Bogush dealing with social media; more specifically, Twitter. The blog post is titled The 10 Levels of Twitter and in it, Blogush summarizes the possible interactions with individuals all over the world, sharing similar interests through technology. I found this post to be very interesting. It kind of peels back the superficial leaves of the Internet, to expose the more meaningful interactions afforded to those through the use of online communication.

I have never used Twitter. I rarely use Facebook, and other forms of social media are lost on me. Most of what I read on these social media platforms are people posting about mundane and tedious events in their everyday life. They tend to be about someone “going to the Eagles game” or posting a photo of their new shoes. It seems that nothing is concrete. However, after reading this post, I’m starting to believe that I may be missing out on some very meaning resources available to me. The post brings up a very interesting point; to quote @intrepidteacher, “the Internet is not about the stuff we put on there, but about the people we meet.”

I’m starting to reconsider my ignorance of social media. There are literally thousands of people out there in the digital world sharing information and resources that interest me. Meeting these people can help me develop not only as an aspiring teacher, but also as an individual. It may be time to step out of the dark ages and into technological relevancy. Communication is instant now. To quote the late Marshall McLuhan, “the world is a global village.”

The Importance of Visual Literacy

I can remember my parents telling when I was younger that everyone learns differently. I didn’t quite understand what they meant back then. Through my schooling and education, and learning about the multiple intelligences, I discovered exactly what my parents were saying. No two minds think alike. The advancement in technology is essential in maximizing the potential of the individual student. The article/interview of George Lucas titled, Life on the Screen: Visual Literacy in Education, offers some insight on how to reach the needs of all students through technology and help boost the educational structure of this country out of the dark ages and into the future.

The world has drastically changes since the 19th century, yet many of the techniques used in education remain the same. Lucas points out that in nearly every school, written and oral communication are predominantly reinforced in students. Music, cinema, and graphics should also be incorporated. Today’s students are engulfed in a variety of social and interactive media outlets. They are literally surrounded by technology. The article argues that students today are far more technologically advanced then many of their parents and older generations. If students are awarded the opportunity to learn through a variety of mediums, their understanding can be much deeper.

Visually literacy can be incorporated into any class subject. The trick is to find an affective way to use it. The article discusses math as being the most concrete and abstract subject, yet it can still include some of the features of visual literacy. The educational system in this country in a major ‘face lift.’ The infrastructure needs to be revamped to meet the needs of a digital world. SMART-boards are starting to make a presence in many of the new schools and classrooms. It’s a step in the right direction, but a lot more work needs to be done.

To forget or not to forget: that is the question!

Throughout my educational career, I’ve had teachers and professors frequently remind me of the importance of turning assignments in on time, of coming to class prepared, and constant reminders of deadlines and requirements. There are many things in this world that need to be completed punctually, particularly in the ‘real’ world. That being said, it is human nature to err. Are class rules and deadlines more important than a quality education? The previous statement may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but the principal is true. Sometimes rules, deadlines, and strict class structures overshadow the really important things.

In the most recent post from the blogush website titled I forget…, Paul Bogush (the author) reminds his readers of the importance of quality. As I previously mentioned, people forget. Similar to Paul, I forget at least one thing a day before I leave for work in the morning. Whether it be my coffee mug or my jacket, 4 our of 5 times somethings is left on the table by my front door. If we as educators (and future educators) are at fault for forgetting, isn’t it reasonable to suggest that a student might forget? If a student is contributing and engaging in a project or a discussion, isn’t that what really matters? It sure seems like it should to me.

I fully agree with Paul Bogush’s view on the topic and I think his last few lines really nails it home, “I have more important things to do besides teaching them how not to forget. I prefer to spend our time together doing things that will not be forgotten.” Students are adapting to the teacher’s rules of the classroom. Those rules can sometimes be very foreign. Take the time to get to know a student’s situation, he or she is probably forgetting things for a reason. Reprimanding a student for forgetting something does not instill the importance of remembering.

Organization, Organization, Organization

Staying organized and keeping up with things is an absolute necessity for teachers. Dealing with large groups of students on a daily basis can be overwhelming. Without structure on organizational practices firmly instilled, that task is near impossible. The teacher/author of the blog 7thgrademathteacherextraordinaire.blogspot.com offered some very insightful suggestions for how she keeps her students and classroom organized. In the blog, the teacher establishes routines and procedures for submitting and collecting papers in the classroom. Her detailed explanation of how she runs her classroom is very helpful and I can easily vision myself using some her techniques in the future.

Class time is short. I often hear teachers complaining that they never have enough time in their day to finish their projects. Maximizing classroom efficiency is a necessity. Wasted time handing out and collecting paper work is inefficient and wastes both the teacher and the student’s time. Therefore, to counter that inefficiency the teacher developed an affective way to minimize wastefulness. First and foremost, the teacher stresses the importance of making sure the students put their first and last names clearly on all their assignments. This may seem like an obvious process, but I’ve seen many students simply initial or forget to write their names all together. I thought it was also a good idea to also have the students write their class hour on the assignments as well, that way the teacher can easily organize the assignements based on class time.

The teacher holds students accountable for their own work. She has a collection of stamps that are used for late assignments, incomplete/late work and a stamp with her initials that is used when the assignment is complete and ready to be turned in. Students self grade their work and apply the appropriate stamp based on the work. When students are finished grading, the teacher goes over any questions that they may have and then applies the initial stamp. I enjoy this method very much because it makes individual students accountable for their work. It is also a way to check for understanding because the teacher has a brief interaction with the students about any questions or concerns they may have.

The teacher also has a clearly labeled area where students can turn in work, folders for specific assignments and tests, alphabetically structured procedures for students to turn in their graded work, and labels to inform students where things go. In the beginning of her blog post, she mentions that instilling habits and routines in students can take a few weeks to become concrete, but the effort is well worth the reward. It may be difficult in the beginning, but it pays of in the end. Students need structure and that comes with organization, organization, organization.

You Never Know What to Expect…

Everyday is different. Students can surprise you, make you laugh, impress you, confuse you, and yes, even frustrate you. The life of a teacher is one that is in constant motion. Time is short, yet days are long. It is a career that demands structure, yet utilizes inspiration. One never knows just what lays ahead. For all these reasons, I found the most recent post from the Blogush blog to be very interesting. It was short, only a few lines, yet it had a resounding message. Kids can surprise you everyday.

In the blog, Mr. Bogush spoke of a brief conversation with one of his students about a t-shirt he was wearing. The t-shirt had a very famous quote on it from Ben Franklin. It stated “It’s the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” A student of his stopped him in the hallway to make a comment about the t-shirt. The student thought it was very cool short and made a reference that he had never seen him without hair and that he was a good musician. The two spoke for a few minutes and in the end, the student thought it was Beethoven rather than Franklin.

Students say the darnedest things.

Hardcore Common Core Standards

The author of the post Common Core Copyright, points out some interesting, and quite frightening aspects of the CCSS. The Common Core Stands are privately owned, and must be utilized as is without altercation. If states select the standards, they are not free to manipulate them to meet the needs of the students. Standardized testing and prep memorizing seem to be an essential theme to the new CCS. It also appears that the creators of these standards hold no liability for any kind for any misinterpretations.

It is quite obvious that the author of this blog is opposed to the CCS, and more specifically the standardized testing that is a result of the CCS. It seems that the education of this country is gearing more towards state testing instead of meaningful learning activities. I, like many others, do not test well in high stress situations. I excel when I’m given the opportunity to work creatively and hands-on. There are clearly some gaping holes our countries educational system, and I’m not sure how it will bode in future. To quote the author, “long live the CSS…”

The Importance of HW

I’ve been following the blog, Middle School Math Rules! for a few weeks now and I’ve found the content to be very beneficial. To my chagrin, no new posts were added this week. However, this gave me the opportunity to go through the archives and check out other information available on the blog. While I was scanning, I found a post dedicated to homework and the importance of it (click here to read it). I can remember being assigned math homework (busy work as i recall it) that seemed to be more time consuming than beneficial work.

In my opinion, the point of homework is to reinforce key concepts discussed in class. However, many times it becomes monotonous. The teacher made a conscientious choice to spend more classroom time practicing math problems, instead assigning if for homework. The benefit of this is that it provides positive reinforcement to the students because the teacher is available for assistance during this practice time. If students are provided with the proper scaffolding and assistance, student success will vastly increase.

The teacher also mentioned that many students have very full schedules. Sports, clubs, extracurricular actives, and many, many other activities full student schedules outside of school. The lady writing this blog made it clear that she has a son in eighth grade, so she probably knows better than most how busy students can be. On top of all these other activities, students have homework from other class subjects. Assigning homework needs to be a thoughtful combination of challenge and length. Assigning too much homework can lead to fatigue and assigning homework that is too easy or to hard can lead to boredom or frustration.

In my opinion, homework doesn’t need to be assigned every night. Three or four nights a weeks should be plenty. Quality, not quantity. Challenging, not frustrating. Interest, not fatigue. Assigning homework properly can be very beneficial and rewarding it done right.