This week and Teacher of Promise Workshop

Let’s see what I learned this week… 
-My Spanish kids have an attention span of 5 minutes of lecture. No more… for the whole class. This makes it very difficult to get through material, but it also helps me plan more engaging activities.
-I also gave oral quizzes in Spanish- these take forever! I planned for them to take one day; I’m on day three to get through them all.
-I’ve just been kind of disappointed with myself in Geometry this week. With teaching all three classes, and my KPTP unit, I really don’t feel like I’ve done a good job of reaching all my students this week. I will mention that I made a smartboard animation- which the kids really liked and also a smartboard- flashgame review activity on the computer. Both worked alright…. But what I’m most disappointed with is that I presented the proofs and material in a very direct way and not inquiry or investigative at all and ended up introducing proofs and theorems too soon. If I could go back I would so many things differently! I would start with things they know or easy applications/ explorations then introduce vocab and then work on thinking through logic, then work in algebra, and then maybe get into proofs. But the whole mistake started at the beginning of the year. I needed to condition these kids to think deeper and relate more things to real-life in a real way. I’m just very frustrated. Although I don’t think I had a spare moment to spend more time researching.
-In Trig, I gave the kids a Test on Wednesday (which they all pretty much failed- because they were either absent or didn’t practice the problems/ study), then passed the class back to Mr. Klankey. They began a chapter on law of sines/ cosines and vectors. This is such a fun unit that has a lot of visual aids. Observing Mr. Klankey has made me realize how far I’ve gotten away from getting the kids intellectually engaged/ curious. They were active in the class, but not perplexed. I just made things too easy/ straightforward! Arg, this is not the teacher I want to be. I want to inspire thought and curiosity, questions, and investigation. I don’t want to do all the work for my students, but I want them to find their own paths. It was eye-opening watching Mr. Klankey observe again- it brought me back to my initial objectives as a teacher. And I NEVER WANT TO FORET THIS. I think I get so caught up sometimes with my lesson plans, grading, and all that jazz. These ideas also tie into what I learned from the Teacher of Promise Workshops.

The Workshops- They assigned us to 4 out of the 7 workshops available. I’ll give brief summaries to the ones I went to, but supposedly they were all recorded and posted on MC Pickman’s YouTube site.

1) ISS- ‘something’ (increasing?) student success
In this session, the speaker gave a big bag full of tricks on how to get your kids to reflect on what they’ve learned/ get formative feedback on what your student’s learned. She had a wheel that students could spin to tell which method/ tool to use and would use an ISS after every lesson. Some of my new favorites are Snowball fight, evidence bag, 3-2-1, 10 word summaries- there were a ton! She did a lot with partners and Kagan structures. It was great to go beyond my usual exit slip which usually takes too much time. It also gives variety and choice.

2) Setting the stage for great relationships
This was awesome. They talked about making your classroom a community and giving them a set time to talk in class (because they will do it anyway). They also gave a few activity ideas (first day have them pull out something from their bag and trade, then say why they relate to that object). They said that kids will be less likely to bully someone if they can relate to them in some way. They also talked about having a family fridge and the fact that being in our class might be the best part of our students’ day. They were such advocates for the kids; it was inspiring.

3) Using Music in the classroom
She made the point that listening to a song can take you right back to the time you first heard it- proving that music can be learned as a learning tool. She talked about using it as background music to introduce a concept, or creating your own songs to help students learn. They also showed an example song that a student made (a spoof about biology).

4) Questions Please-
In this session she had us do a mini experiment with water and wet string to demonstrate cohesion and adhesion- her point being that we need to get students asking questions, peaking their interests, and fostering curiosity. It was a great reminder of how to use the inquiry method. Her example was quick, easy and extremely effective. She also showed us “philosophical debates”- it was called something like that- where the kids take a side on an issue and then throw an object back and forth- the speaker must hold the object- and before someone can speak twice, everyone on one side must speak. It was a really great activity- and I hope I can figure out how to incorporate it soon.

Overall, the event was very convicting- I need to be teaching so differently than I am now: Advocating for my kids, making their day special, using inquiry, creating perplexity and curiosity, using music, technology, and knowing my content better. There is so much I need to improve. I am excited that student teaching is almost over so I can get a fresh start.

Other ideas I got from the event:
-using tile squares to make battle ship
-jinga out of two by sixes
-pen pals/ contact with people on other continents
-think BIG!

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