math teacher

What do you mean there is no right answer, it’s math???? I need to feel more confident with the process and the details. I like patterns and ideas, these two things can keep me occupied for hours on end, bouncing from one to the other and back again. Math was never too hard or too easy, my concern was how do you do it and then to do the test. In grade 11 we had a ‘work at our own pace’ style with an outline and a few problems. We could write the test when we wanted with the option of a re-write if we were not happy with the mark. With maybe seven students in the class the teacher was very accessible. I did really well, but it is questionable as to how much I learned because with a change in school for grade 12 and a new lecture format with no class time to practice my grades slid 30%. Practice time in class was used for the teacher to do problems, which seemed odd as he was very good at math. I don’t have any other math memories, but I always enjoyed geometry.

As a teacher with a background in outdoor recreation and a experiential attitude I want to make math hands-on and fun with as many games as possible. I want it to be an exercise for the brain that students can become confident in to take on and challenges.

My favorite math puzzle site: www.setgame.com/set/puzzle_frame.htm

5 thoughts on “math teacher

  1. 1. What is the purpose of homework and what are your responsibilities as a teacher towards homework?

    Van De Walle & Folk would suggest that the purpose of homework is as a tool that can be used to inform parents on projects or concepts being worked on in school. It can also be a simple puzzle for an introduction to a topic or be an opportunity to practice something that was done that day. Homework could be some reflective journaling, a conversation at dinner or reading for 20min in an evening. Anything that is given to students to take home should have the intent of building confidence by practicing to achieve a greater understanding of the subject they are working on.
    In conjunction with the use of homework it is also important to consider the individuals and classes that change ever year. No two classes will be the same and so you really cannot be a teacher who only teaches one way. My responsibility as a teacher assigning homework is to be aware of how I use it so that I do not privilege the students that can do the work at home and disadvantage the ones who cannot. If students are unable to do something in class then they are likely unable to do it at home, so there would be no point in sending it home. If students are unable to complete an activity in class then they need to feel supported to access me if not during class then before or after. If I know they can do something that is too easy, then this may also be a reason not to send homework. Also it is important to understand the social context of the families in a community because some students will have support at home and know how to do assignments while others may not if parents are working two or three jobs.
    I would also be responsible to set clear criteria with goals and feedback that allows for improvement and understanding of how the marking would occur. The last thing you want is a student writing a small book because the criteria are not clear. Homework should not be punishment or be given just for the sake of it. However I also think that students have a responsibility to use classroom time allotted. If students are not using class time for assignments then it may need to be scheduled for another time, which could mean taking homework if they have the capacity to do it. Arrangements can always be made with the student to work with support before or after school. I have high expectations of students, but I am also realistic in understanding that expectations change in some circumstances with the abilities of each student. Also I think you need to be aware that students have action packed schedules outside of school, with dance, sports, swimming lessons, instruments and others. That family time and spare time is important to process everything that is happening in a busy life.

    2. How can you maximize a child’s success with respect to Homework?

    I think that if you want students to be successful with homework that they must be set-up for success. If I want them to read for 20 min a night then I need class time to model that activity as well as give access to books that students are interested in with regularly scheduled trips to school and public libraries. If the homework is a conversation about math then they need skills that are developed in class that they can take home. Make the homework something manageable so that there is success and esteem building. Set criteria that is clear and manageable. After spending 5 hours at school I do not feel that students should be going home to another 2-3 hours of homework in elementary school. Give them problem-solving skills with flexibility to feel secure in trying and not worrying about failing. Check their homework to see that it is done, but don’t necessarily mark it.

  2. Benefits of and problems with performance standards

    I now see performance standards as a guidepost for expectations of students at grade levels. It is a good start with the exemplars showing a ‘clear grading scale.’ The challenge I had when first teaching math was not having a methodology course and 21 students out of 28 students who had English as a second language. Some students could understand the mathematic concepts but couldn’t understand a lot of English and writing that was involved. Then I had this other group that understood the language, but not basic math facts. This made the word problems especially hard. I had to move away from the standards and felt like there wasn’t enough time to be caught up on or on par with what was expected by the standards, which caused a lot of anxiety. The easiest way seemed to be a lot of drilling, because there was little language and lots of practicing the basics. The standards seemed to put a lot of pressure on mastery of skills and what was expected with out enough assessment of individual students and group ability. That was also my first time teaching math and knowing what I have learned I would of done things totally differently. I would of used a word wall and looked more at teaching a fewer things with the goal of learning more language and better grasp of basic facts. Even if students didn’t learn every concept, with more language they would have been setup for a better chance to succeed later.

  3. Some of the benefits as well as dangers and pitfalls with integrating technology into lessons and projects.

    Technology in general shows a fundamental principal of human character, that people will learn when the topic is most relevant to them. I have showed my girlfriend repeatedly how to attach pictures to E-mails, mostly because she hates computers and almost refuses to use them. This was until she discovered a program that let her interact in a very simple and visual way with friends from her past. In a week she became computer literate, understanding things that she had put off for years. I grew up with computers and video games balanced with many other pursuits. Understanding that technology is a tool and choosing how to use it are two very different things. In recent years technology has become far more user friendly and we have also become to some extent a computer literate society with it accessible to the general public. When I talk about technology and computers I include many things like making video, editing photography, calculators, cell phones just to name a few that seem to fall under this large umbrella. Often computers seem to either be accept and used or rejected as the end of self-sufficiency, imagination and creativity. I see technology as a tool that can be used to manage large projects for calculations, organization and presentation of information. The trick with technology then becomes knowing the right tool and how to use it.
    One of the biggest dangers is the anxiety that comes with learning something foreign like a new language. This is also true of learning computer language. Math fears and anxieties are real concerns and could be compounded by adding a new challenge like having to learn a computer program. Some students will come knowing more then myself and others will have little to no exposure. The use of technology has to be structured and simple to start with so that students can build confidence and learn how to use it slowly so that they see it as a tool that can simplify some things while complicating others. Otherwise there is the risk of overwhelming students
    One of the other pitfalls of technology is that some people have a really negative impression of it. They do not see technology as a tool, but as a lazy short cut that takes creativity out of the hands of an individual. People don’t always see a difference in games like “Grand Theft Auto” and “Math Blaster” when in fact they have different purposes and audiences. They can all get lumped into one group that fails to recognize the potential to learn. I think this can be mediate with clear on intentions and moderation in using technology so that it does not become the focal point, but remains a tool.

  4. In life many of us choose to live within a set of guidelines so that society can function as we know it. If choosing to teach in the public school system and be paid by public taxes dollars then you need to adhere to the guidelines set out. When deciding whether or not to follow conventional methods I often think about cars and the rules of the road. In the Yukon we often have long distances to travel and it is quicker from point A to B if you travel in the straightest line using the whole road without any thought for the arbitrary line in the middle. I have experienced this in other places around the world, sometimes due to there only being one lane for traffic in both directions. While traveling one experience made me laugh with anxiety when an angry Russian bus driver slalomed through active trolley tracks between trains and posts. This behavior not only upset me, the foreigner, but also the locals. When any individual steps out of the bounds of “secure process” to take it on themselves to make their own rules it is very difficult for the rest of society to adjust. When it is cars the results are often fatal.

    In our model at SFU we had a colleague who took the moral high ground in a conversation around community stating, “I could careless about what the parents think or want.” This really struck me as misdirected and through further conversations discovered that he was upset about not being allowed to play sports as a child because his parents valued academics. This is maybe and example of how not enough autonomy creates resentment and rebellion.

    A pedagogy of education that is widely accepted and a founding principal of the SFU PDP program is Parker Palmer who sees education taught from the hart with love in hope that we make a positive impression. Every teacher utilizes unique life experiences, talents and passion to engage students by bring material alive. I don’t think that Parker suggests this at the detriment of everyone else. However he did choose to open his own school. To be effective teachers we need to develop a style and process that is effective for ourselves and the people we work with. This may look different from the class next door, but for the big picture, twelve years of education to be coordinated some guidelines and structure need to be commonly held.

    If we all choose as much personal autonomy as we can manage the chance to learn from each other success maybe loss. I think that given a choice most people follow the rules, because we can see the benefit in the grand scheme to society in general. It is also important to recognize that as professionals and parents we have a responsibility to vocalize concerns we may have about aspects of education that we do not agree with like standardized testing. The classroom is not a personal arena or a platform to demonstrate personal discourse. Being monitored and having contact with feedback from colleagues has the potential to lessen our workload and improve practice. I think this is where being aware and a contributing member of society can help build a successful career.

  5. Being able to rationalize my practice is a key component to doing anything. I think that I understand now where “progressive” practices are coming from with the WNCP. I personally still need to play with it and test it to be come confident to know how it will influence my teaching and students. I really enjoyed the classes and it seems smart and logical to be having fun with math, using literature, problem solving and lots of conversations to deepen understanding. It challenges a lot of what I grew up with, and so wrapping my head around it will take time. To be honest I don’t remember much other then copying things down off the board. I do think that it really speaks to what I strive for with my philosophy of education, which is to teach to the whole child.
    I really enjoyed the text, picking up the 2nd edition at Chapters for $80 instead of $120 seems like good math. That being said that was the most I have ever read out of a textbook. I did enjoy it and will use it a lot to draw on lesson ideas for technology and literacy. I will also be using it for planning and improving my understanding of math concepts. I really liked how it broke down learning disabilities with suggestion on how to modify and adapt. Having everything circle back to the min of education in respect to performance standards and process was helpful. I have heard this year individualize learning, but I have not always felt that it has been well demonstrated with much guidance. I think it was the practicality of how the course was laid out to how we can use this knowledge in our own career that was made it so valuable.
    I often find myself thinking about all the things I should have done at the end of the course. The person I aim to please most is myself, when I get caught up in grades and performance I get panicky and nothing can be good enough, so I put it off. I am happy about what I learned in this course, I could go into a classroom and know what to do and how to figure it out. Now French and English are another story, but I’m really happy about the math. And I will learn and read more……Thanks

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