Educ 415 Blog

Month: July, 2013

Spot for a voice, a spot for a bit of fun.


I love this idea of the quote of the week.  I will definitely be stealing this for my classroom in the future.  I think it is important to give students some sense of ownership of the board space to the class, or it is just the white board of doom, and homework.  How many classrooms only have space to write homework as there only permanent reserved space on the board?  I think it’s little things like this that help build relationships with your students, and plus you can have a bit of fun.  


Short reflection, but short topic.  

Flying by the seat of your pants…..

This was a great story and it made me smile thinking about of class of little mathletes (or more likely a few mathletes and most not), coming up with their own question and then figuring out how to solve it.  This is what we all dream of in math class, or at least I do.  

My reflection will not be on the actual story itself but on the last sentence: “On the block, there were 70 minutes remaining, which if Miss Nowak can’t adjust on the fly her treatment of parallel lines cut by a transversal to fit in 70 minutes, one should feel free to question her qualifications.”

I have always felt the flexibility and the ability to come up with new things or modifications on the fly are an underrated part of teaching.  It does not get talked about very much during PDP, nor emphasized like some of the other qualities.  Teachable moments, or in K8’s case a moment to sit back and listen, come up all the time in class and teachers need to be able to react to the moment.  The teachable moment needs to be dealt with, usually off the top of your head, and then the lesson needs to be reworked after the moment has passed.  I have also had situations where I could tell rather quickly that my lesson plan was not working, and had to re-think activities or methods of delivery on the spot.  I like to think that this is a strong part of my teaching abilities, and I think I had a successful practicum because of it. 

Changing texts for the better.

This is awesome problem to give students as a more interesting way to include graphing or algebra or problem solving. I really like how he incorporated a logical thinking pattern into the whole problem. He started with a problem with no known solution for the kids….. ‘here’s an accident, how can we know how fast the person was going?’

I didn’t pick this blog to reflect on because of how much I like the problem, but because of how much I like how he modified a problem from the text. I generally give textbooks a hard time for having superficial, poorly laid out problems but I rarely have a issue with the topic or ideas in the problems or ‘explorations’. After reading this blog I will look at textbook problems, explorations, or labs(science) a bit differently. Sometimes it is difficult to think of ‘fun’ or engaging activities or ideas to teach topics but using the text as a spring board might work out great in many situations. Dan was able to take a procedural problem that lacked exploration, imagination and deep thought, and he was able to turn it into a fun lesson that required creativity, conceptual understanding and reasoning.

“A teacher who can be replaced by a computer should be.” – Sugata Mitra

I have recently had a few conversations with friends about the future of teaching and teachers in general.   l love the quote that Matt used at the end of this post (which is now my title), it perfectly describes my thoughts, and conversation conclusions recently.  

Ideas like the flipped classroom seem to have provided so people with the idea that classroom teaching is on the way out.  But I agree with Matt, teachers are in the business of relationship building first, teaching comes second and is much easier if the relationship is solid.  

Sorry this is a shorter reflection this week, I just wasn’t really inspired to write about any of Matt’s other posts.  

Power of Patterns

I choose this post because I find myself having problems explaining and conceptualizing ‘easy’ math concepts (by easy I mean concepts that I have been doing for so long I do not remember learning them, subtraction, addition, multiplication, division, negatives etc.).  I was TOCing in a grade one class and I was to teach them about subtraction.  The class had no problem with 8-3, but as soon as I asked 18-13 the class was at a loss.  Finally student said ‘it’s 5’, I said ‘thats correct, how did you get that?’ the student said ‘I don’t know 18-13 is 5, that’s the answer.’  I struggled with her in trying to find a way to explain her thinking.  My brain does not have a conscious step by step process when it comes to simple subtraction, how can I explain my thinking to the grade ones.  

The use of patterns in the blog post to explain the concept of negative numbers is great.  Starting with things that are ‘too easy’ can be a risky proposition (as you can lose some of kids before you reach the ‘light bulb moment’), but I think it can really work with younger grades K-8.    I really appreciate Julie’s hate for math rules….. It sucks the life and fun out of math.  I don’t think ‘rules’ lead to conceptual understandings, rules are boring and rules are “made to be broken.”