Staying Mindful of During Planning

We were expected to complete the reading of “How Students Learn: Mathematics in the Classroom” for our last seminar and reflect on the reading.  During the past seminar meeting, we were asked to think about what to stay mindful of while planning a lesson.  The reading had many key ideas that will prove to be helpful while planning a lesson.Image

The new material presented to students must draw on prior knowledge.  This helps increase students engagement since they can then relate to the new material presented. Students often link what they already know to what they are learning about.  This helps provide students interest to take control of their learning, and not just memorize something for a test.  It can develop conceptual understanding and allows students to make connections instead of just memorization.  Also, any prior knowledge students have allows for misconceptions to be brought out.  This lends itself to the next topic of misconceptions.  Students may memorize, then go back to preconceptions.  Drawing on their prior knowledge allows the students to make connections and hopefully not go back to their preconceptions which may in fact be misconceptions.

While planning a lesson, a teacher must also stay mindful of common misconceptions.  If many students have the same idea of how to approach a problem an incorrect way, students will wonder why doesn’t their way work.  It is important for teachers to be able to see these misconceptions a head of time so they are well prepared to explain why their way does not work, and use this to help students better understand the lesson.  If there is a common misconception, teachers could draw the students to that specific mistake and use this as part of their lesson.

Also, getting to know the students is a good way to understand their interests.  Connecting any new lessons with student interest will show both application and it can keep students engaged.  I know in any of my subjects in school related to something with hockey, I was way more engaged and wanted to understand how the new material can be applied to hockey.  Learners can make connections with the new material that is presented, and see how it is important and applied in their own life.  Also, they students see different representations of math instead of just the classic numbers as problems.  They can see the new applications and link it on their own to something else in their life.  This makes math relevant and engaging for students.

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First Coaching Session

During my coaching session, we went over some of my goals for the semester.  One example I listed was gain more confidence.  I have never really been in front of a classroom for an extended period of time before and I am a bit quiet and reserved when it comes to college classes.  I want to be able to connect with all or at least most of the students and exert more enthusiasm in my lessons.  We then talked a great deal about student engagement.  This was much of the focus for my coaching session.

When it comes to engagement for the students, I would really like to keep advanced students challenged and engaged, while also keeping the less academically gifted students engaged and not overwhelmed.  I would really like for them to think about problems, not just look through past notes to be able to solve problems.  Many students can solve problems they have trouble with if they just think about what the problem is asking them to complete, and using information the problem gives them.

One different way that I could incorporate into the classroom with the desire of being successful is for students to have fun.  Use problems that are relatable to the students.   This spurs interest for the students that increase the likelihood for students to be engaged.  I would really like more collaboration and group work between students.   I really do not like going into a classroom and the classroom is quiet.  It almost seems like just working on worksheets is like working on tests, and I do not want the classroom with that has a testing atmosphere every time someone walks in the room. 

Things that would support engagement we talked about was hands on activities mixed with lecture.  I think hands on activities both solidify understanding and lets the students dig deeper into mathematics.  However, having all lessons based on hands on activities with discovery and explore is impractical since time is crucial.  There needs to be some lecture to both guide students and cover all the topics we are suppose to in a year.  Also, projects are helpful to get away from just worksheet after worksheet.  I think students can have fun with these projects and spur more engagement.  Finally, giving students choices is helpful to activate engagement.  After observing lessons in the past, it seemed like students had more fun and worked hard through an activity when there were choices presented to them for assignments or projects.

In the end, for my future lessons for teacher assisting I would really like to start with a launch of some sort.  There is the opportunity to get students ready for the day’s lesson while also not wasting valuable class time.  Next would follow into the lesson with lecture mixed with activities.  There are some lessons I have done for my micro-teaching in the past that will apply to the chapter I will be teaching.  Finally, end the class with a discussion and collaboration to define what exactly we did during class and to consolidate student thinking.  Incorporating this method would hopefully spur more engagement and challenges for advanced students as well as keeping less advanced students engaged and keeping them from giving up.

First Week

I am currently working as a teacher assistant at a charter school in West Michigan.  I believe the first week overall went pretty well.  Towards the end of the week we started getting into a groove on what exactly needs to be done every morning.  That is, get the previous day’s absent students work out, setting up the lesson, and making copies for the lesson.  We mostly watched from the back of the class.  When the teacher completed the lesson, we walked around helping anyone that struggled.  We also began to grade assignments and record these in the grade book.  We should be starting to take role next week so the students get use to us more.  We also discussed what and when we will be taking over.  I will be taking over in a few weeks on the chapter about circles, surface area, and volume.  I am really looking forward to this.