My teacher assistant partner and I were observed while we co-taught a lesson. The day before we covered a lesson about converting decimals and fractions into percents. On this day of our observation we decided to do an activity to go along with that lesson. What we did was we got quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies and modeled percents using the various change. We had each of the students in groups of two or three and they modeled on their own each of the listed quarters, dimes, and nickels. They then set up a proportion where they had how many change and value of change as the numerators respectively and how many make a dollar and one dollar as the denominators respectively.
They then had to come up with a decimal, then convert it to a percent. We then had them choose any amount of pennies the groups wanted. Finally we had them pick various dimes, nickels, and pennies to come up with a value that could end up going over one dollar. We then discussed their findings, and that concluded the lesson.
My focus was on engagement for the observation. For the most part it went very well. I thought and the observer felt for the most part, every student was on task and engaged in the activity for the majority of the hour. I was a little skeptical about the activity since we did the lesson before and the students really grasped it. I was not sure if the students would become bored of it and tune out. The opposite happened and it seemed every student within their groups really enjoyed doing the activity and were engaged in learning about converting change into percents.
I know this to be true because the notes that were recorded by our observer seemed very accurate to the way I thought the lesson went. At the start, everyone seemed engaged in the activity and as the students finished up at different times, they then got a little off task then. I also know most were on task because I would go over to random groups and call on a random member a question about how they answered a question. Every student was able to answer my questions effectively. Other group members did not step in and answer, instead the person I chose on answered it. It shows that every person was responsible for his or hers’ answers. While we walked around the room, there were no conversations that were off topic. Every student was able to finish the worksheet provided for them, with a very good grasp of the activity because during our de-briefing, we called on random students and they were able to answer the questions effectively. I went around when the groups were finishing up and asked some of them what they thought of the activity. It was a significant “I loved this activity!” “This was really fun!” It was nice to see how an educational activity could be so fun for students. When asked why they liked it, they said it was a nice visual to the lesson from yesterday and that pretty much every student likes working with change. Also, there was an overwhelming response to the choices options. The “You Pick” section where students chose how much of each change it seemed they took a liking to. It gave them choice which most students love.
Towards the end of the activity, students were finishing at different times, and it was hard to keep every student engaged when they did this. One example that we discussed was the fact of using a worksheet that would be almost impossible to finish in class. Throw in more challenging questions at the end to keep everyone engaged, and keep a benchmark of where we want every student to get to so we can then de-brief. When we see everyone has reached the benchmark we can pull the class back in and say that is good enough so then discuss their findings up to the benchmark. If the students want to talk about the challenging problems, go over it with them individually, or with the whole class depending on if the class wants to and you know you won’t confuse anyone about the lesson. This keeps every student engaged throughout the entirety of the activity and shows differention. It allows more advanced students to tackle more advanced topics. Also, it allows more advanced students not to finish early and waste valuable class time.
The whole observation and coaching experience has been very helpful. It has given me time to really reflect on the activity and lesson. There was the idea that keeping a worksheet long enough so pretty much every student would not finish was something I have never really considered. It was also really nice to see how I thought the lesson went and how the observer felt the lesson went seemed to mirror each other. It is difficult when the observer said this happened and you think “oh I do not remember doing this”. When you and the observer on the same page, it seems teaching is becoming more and more natural.