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Second Week of Pre-Internship March 30, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in Pre-internship.
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My second week of pre-internship was a great experience and I can’t believe it is almost over! We got to teach another class apart from our grade 9 math class for the duration of the week. Our second class we took on was grade 9 science. I wasn’t as comfortable about taking on this class as I am with teaching math, as science is not my minor. But so far everything is going pretty good. On Friday, my partner and I taught three classes. The three classes we team-taught were Foundations 20, Science 9 and Math 9. We are going to continue to team teach these three classes on Monday. After Monday, my partner is taking Foundations 20, we are team teaching Science 9 and I will be teaching Math 9 alone.

For this second week of teaching we incorporated a few assessment strategies in our lessons. In our math 9 class we created a worksheet for the students, gave them class time to do the assignment and told the students they had to have the assignment finished and handed in next class for marks. We noticed our students were having trouble with solving equations so for one class we gave the students all index cards and came up with the steps to solving equations. We got the students to write these steps down on their index cards and put them in their binders. The students are allowed to refer to this index card whenever they need, including quizzes and tests. We also provided the grade 9 class with another work sheet dealing with let statements and solving word problems. We asked the students to hand these sheets in and looked at them to see where the students were with word problems and let statements. We provided the students with descriptive feedback on these sheets so the students know how they are doing and things that they need to remember for next time when dealing with let statements and word problems. We have also provided our math class with a poll everywhere where the students could anonymously answer the question we had. From this we got an idea of how much the students knew and understood from our lessons. We thought this would be a good idea as students would not be afraid to put their ideas out there as it was all anonymous. However, next time I don’t think we would do a poll everywhere and keep it as open as we did for the first one. We never took into consideration all the different possible answers that we could get. We provided descriptive feedback on the quizzes the students did as well as the various worksheets we had them hand in. We also created an exit slip for our second week of teaching as well as co-constructed the criteria with our science 9 students for things that they should be researching on the four different atomic models. Just like the first week, this week we also did a lot of walking around observing our students as they worked on questions and provided them with feedback throughout it all. This week we gave them a little more feedback while walking around by letting our students know if they were doing the correct steps, if they did something wrong and needed to take another look at a question and so on.

I can tell the difference in my teaching from the first week to the second week already. I am now a little better with my time management and I know how to adapt my lessons on the fly a lot better and more accurately. In the beginning I was all about trying to get through everything I had planned for my lesson even if some students were a little bit lost. In my second week, I learned that it is more important to take things slowly and make sure that all the students understand what I am trying to teach them. It isn’t that big of a deal if I don’t get through everything that I had planned. This way we might not get through everything the outcome requires for us to do, but at least the students have a better understanding of what I taught them and they are not confused. I have talked to my co-op teacher about this issue with time management and not being able to accomplish all that I have planned. He just told me that it all comes with time and practice and it isn’t that big of an issue if you can’t get through everything that is required.

In the third week, I am given the opportunity to create an exam for my grade 9 math class. This is going to be a great learning opportunity for me on how to create exams since I have never done this before. I can’t wait for my third week of pre-internship and learning many more different things along the way!


First week of Pre-Internship March 24, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in Pre-internship.
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First week of pre-internship was an amazing experience. We observed a couple math classes, a science 10 class and a Spanish class. From these experiences we got to see how different teachers teach and manage their own classes. In the first week we taught four lessons of grade 9 math and we taught the TAG class one day. In grade 9 math we are teaching the students chapter 6 which is the unit on solving equations. My partner and I have arranged the unit so that it goes along with March Madness that is currently taking place. We made our own Math March Madness where the students will take part in 5 different challenges within this unit. From the challenges, the teams that have the most points at the end of each challenge will determine which teams move on in the bracket and the losers will be moved to the “b” side of the bracket. Our first activity we did was to determine how the teams would be set up in the bracket so that the stronger teams would go head to head against each other and the weaker teams would play each other. This way the playing field was fair for all the students. In our Math March Madness we made the rule that each team automatically gets a point for participation if all their team members are at class that day during the challenge.

Our very first lesson that we taught didn’t go as we had planned so we had to change some things on the fly. Our development that we intended to take 35 minutes only ended up taking 15 minutes, as the students understood how to do the question quite easily. Our co-op teacher was even impressed with how much they knew. So we had to add more complex questions during the lesson to give the students a little more of a challenge. We also extended the activity at the end so that the students could practice the questions more. The activity we had at the end was Speed Equations where the students took part in a heads up game of speed with someone from another team.

As for assessment in our first week we have done a homework check on a worksheet that we provided the students, we did a quiz on Friday afternoon and we also gave the students an entrance slip one day. Also everyday we are always doing a formative/on-going assessment with the students as we are always walking around seeing how the students are doing with the assignments or activities that we provide them with.

Our first week of pre-internship had a variety of different things that we got to experienced. We experienced a lesson that didn’t go as planned and the students understanding the material very quickly, we got to make up our own quiz for the students to do and we also experienced a lesson on Friday afternoon where the students were struggling to understand the concept. So Monday afternoon we have to revisit some of the same things with the grade 9’s and hopefully after that lesson they begin to understand the content we are currently teaching.

First Day Teaching March 18, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in Pre-internship.
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Today during grade 9 Science we got to encounter our very first feel of assessment. We got to evaluate the different Science Fair projects that the students did. We evaluated the students on the creativity of the project, the skill required to do the actual experiment, how they presented their projects and if they had finished their reports or not based off of a rubric our co-op teacher had made for us. This was the first time I had ever had to evaluate the students so I found it difficult to evaluate them. I say this mainly because we don’t really know the students yet and the grade I was giving the students didn’t really seem that good to me anyways. However, the grade I was giving the students projects did fall within what our co-op teacher said they should be getting on them. I think this was a great experience to encounter with our co-op teacher as it gives me a better idea of how we should go about creating these different rubrics and grading the students.

Another form of assessment that we did was incorporated into the very first lesson we taught, which was grade 9 math. For the lesson, after demonstrating and explaining how to solve linear equations we gave the students six different examples that they were to complete and hand in on a piece of paper. We did this as a form of formative assessment as after the lesson I was able to go home and check the questions that the students did. From here, I can see areas in which the students struggled with to things like silly mistakes that they were making. This is a great way to see where the students are at and what we should be going over more with the students in our next lesson before we move on and so forth. For the most part though the students understood what we taught very well and very quickly. So for the next lesson, we plan to make the lesson more difficult as we have a better idea of where the students are with this material just from the first lesson.

Orientation March 15, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in Pre-internship.
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During our first couple days of orientation at pre-internship we just observed the classes that our co-op teacher taught and walked around helping students when he wasn’t lecturing. We discussed the different classes that we would be able to take on and teach during the three weeks. We talked to him about the different things he does in his classroom and policies he has for certain things such as calculators and cell phones. He let us take a look at his grade book and how he evaluated his students. I noticed in his grade book that he had a lot of zeros in it. When I asked him what his thought on giving zeros was, he said that the students could always get rid of the zero they received when they chose to hand in their missing assignments. He didn’t really have a deadline as to when they couldn’t hand in late assignments in either. As for missing exams/tests he was pretty easy going with that too. For example, one girl couldn’t write the math exam on Friday because she was helping out with Hoopla, so he just said that she could come in at lunch on Wednesday and write it when he had all the students come in at lunch for homework and catching up.

Kaylyn and I are teaching grade 9 math for the entire three weeks and he also said that we could try and make up an exam for them at the end of the unit as well. He would either help us make the exam, or the three of us could make it together, or Kaylyn and I would make one and our co-op would make one and we would combine them together at the end. For our first lesson we are planning on getting the students to create linear equations for their classmates and then their classmates would have to solve these equations. From this activity we would be able to do an ongoing assessment based on if the students had any trouble coming up with the linear equations or if they had trouble solving them. This way we will be able to see how much the students have actually learned and understood about solving equations. If they can come up with equations and solve for the equations as well then they have learned the material. Also, from this ongoing formative assessment we have a better idea of how to go about creating our next lessons.

Field Experience and The Role of Teacher Education March 15, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in EMTH 350.
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I think it is important that all students taking education should get the opportunity to experience what it is like to actually be out in the field. You will never know if teaching is actually what you want to do until you go out and experience it first hand. Going through university and studying everything required to get an education degree is totally different than actually going out and getting a feel for teaching. If you don’t actually go out and take part in field experience you will never be certain if teaching really is for you. Field experiences are a great way to interact with students, gain experience, gradually get into the routine of how it is to be a teacher and learn as much as you can about teaching. They are also a great way to learn things such as what you should be doing, how you should be doing certain things and an opportunity to make mistakes when there are co-op teachers there with you to help you along the way.

University teacher education programs are supposed to help students develop the knowledge, experience and understanding they require in order to be successful teachers. Apart from these, university programs also deal with things that you shouldn’t be doing as teachers in your classroom and they also go through some possible situations that could arise within a classroom and how to properly deal with them. University programs are there to help you learn as much as you can about the curriculum and teaching without actually being in the field. They are also there to help you develop your mind and thinking about teaching. You learn how to switch your thinking from being a student all through grade school to start putting your teacher hat on and thinking like a teacher. University education programs are also designed to help you learn how to develop a safe, risk free and non-judgmental environment. We learn the process in how to teach the subject area we are majoring/minor in, different strategies that we can and should be utilizing, the different learning styles that are out there and most importantly we learn that we teach people and not just the content. University programs are the first steps to take that guide the students in the right direction of how to be a successful teacher. University teacher education programs also gradually allow students to get into the field and see how it is to become a teacher. For example, the first field experience you get in the university program is just observing other teachers and how they operate their classroom. They don’t just throw you into a classroom and expect you to start teaching from day one. They gradually progress from a semester of observing, to teaching one class in the afternoon to pre-internship where you start teaching one class a day and gradually get to the point where you are expected to teach three classes in a day. I think it is crucial that all students should go through this process when becoming a teacher because if you get thrown into the field right away and are expected to teach not many students will be successful. Becoming a teacher is like teaching someone how to swim; you don’t just throw them into the deep end right away and expect that they can swim. You have to teach them step by step the important points and then gradually progress from there.

I believe that a mathematics teacher has to be passionate about what they do in order to be successful in the end. If a teacher isn’t passionate about what they do then the students they are teaching will not like mathematics either. I believe this because I think that if a teacher isn’t passionate about the subject they are teaching then they won’t try and make the material fun and engaging for the students. Apart from the passion a teacher has on a subject, I also believe that what the teacher believes and value about the subject will in turn reflect how they teach as well. I believe that if teachers can show students the importance of mathematics and that it is utilized everywhere outside of the classroom then maybe they will learn to appreciate it more. With all this, I also believe that mathematical beliefs and values can change as time progresses and as you experience different things in and through a math class.

Learning Journey #6 March 10, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in Learning Journey.
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In class Thursday night we talked about different assessment practices more specifically, the 15 fixes by Ken O’Connor and the 8 big ideas by Damian Cooper. From these two different assessment practices, I personally like the 15 fixes more than the 8 big ideas. Throughout the majority of the fixes I agree that for the most part we should try to implement these assessment practices. However, there are a few that I am on the fence about such as number 5, which is “Report absences separately from grades; don’t consider attendance in grade determination.” To an extent, I agree with not taking attendance into consideration when grading our students. Although, I don’t think it is fair to give students an opportunity to have another chance to write an exam because they “skipped” the original date. I say this because if this was allowed more students would be missing out on the day of the actual exam to give themselves more time to study and prepare for the exam. It would be a totally different case if the student had a legitimate reason for not being there on the day of the exam, which is when I agree with the idea that we should be allowing these students another opportunity to write the exam. Apart from the idea of not allowing students who purposely “skipped” the day of the exam to allow themselves more time to study, I think students have to learn to be responsible for themselves as well. So essentially, I am not trying to say that I don’t want the best for my students and for them to be graded on what they learn as opposed to when/if they show up to class. I just think that to an extent, students need to be responsible for their own learning as well. For example, if they know they are struggling with the unit they are on, they should start studying for the exam earlier than what they normally would to ensure they have enough time to study everything. Or students can also try and ask their teacher or peers for help before the exam as well to try and better themselves. Students shouldn’t leave studying for the night before and expect to get a good grade in the end.

Another assessment practice that I don’t fully agree with is number 4, which is “Apply fair consequences (not connected to grades) for academic dishonesty and reassess to determine actual level of achievement; don’t punish with reduced grades.” I disagree with this one as this is setting the high school students up for failure going into university as things like plagiarism is not acceptable. I also think that by allowing this, it is like saying to the students that it is okay to just copy and paste something they find on the Internet for there assignment if they totally forgot to do their assignment the night before or if they don’t feel like doing it at the time. This way they will be given another chance to actually do the assignment as a form of punishment. This also ensures that they can redo the assignment instead of not handing in an assignment and receiving a grade of zero on it. (Or depending on what the expectations are in the classroom for assignments not handed in.) This is allowing lots of students to put off their homework as much as they would like if they have something else they would rather be doing. This is another case where the students need to be responsible for their own learning in the sense that they shouldn’t be copying and pasting things from the Internet for an assignment or project as they are not learning anything by doing this. Instead, I think they should be utilizing the resources provided to them online to better their understanding on different things and to learn more things in general. Overall, the Internet shouldn’t be abused and instead it should be utilized properly to better someones understanding of something and increase what they know.

In general, I don’t think that the behavior of students should be taken into consideration when assessing and evaluating them. But at the same time I also think that students should be responsible for their own learning and do whatever they can to contribute to their own learning rather than taking the easy way out on certain things. With the whole idea of not taking behavior into consideration when grading students I think that the playing field should be fair for all students as well. By this I mean that students who purposely skip class shouldn’t be given a second chance and expect to be treated like the students who actually deserve and could use the second chance they are given.


Assessment in a Mathematics Classroom March 3, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in EMTH 350.
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Dear best friend,

I was just watching a video on high school mathematics and it was talking about how high schools are currently at the midst of a dramatic change for the way in which the approaches to mathematics should be. For example it is asking the students to begin to go beyond the mimicry/regurgitation and memorization in math classrooms. Instead they want students to start to investigate the complex problems they are given, communicate their ideas with their peers and teachers and to then become critical thinkers. I think this is a great idea that needs to be implemented as I clearly remember in high school how we use to all try and remember the process in how to do the problems prior to the exam. We never actually went beyond the process of how to do the problems in math class. I think this is mainly because we were marked only on homework checks, quizzes and exams. Due to this, memorizing was one of the best ways in order to get a good grade in the end.

Another topic that was discussed in this video was the idea that the way in which students are evaluated needs to evolve as well. For example, it talks about how evaluating groups is just as essential as evaluating individuals. The video talks about how this can be implemented through group tests. However, group tests are not a way to look for evidence of process. There are other ways to mark for group process such as participation quizzes. These look like group tests but the assessment goal in the end is different. This is because in a participation quiz the teacher is more interested in the quality of the conversations. Participation quizzes allow for the in-depth discussions to occur. I think this is important to do, as sometimes the quality of the conversation is more important than the process in how to do the problems. I say this because when teachers can listen to these different conversations taking place, this is a great way to assess your students based on what they know and how they are dealing with the problem. Whereas teachers cannot really assess their students as well based on the process in how they approached the problems. This video talks about more essential ways to mark for process such as in homework, class participation, class response, tests as this allows the teacher to see if the students are grasping the concepts that he or she is teaching.

The video also talks about how assessment doesn’t always result in a grade at the end. There are different forms of assessment such as assessment cards where students give suggestions on how to improve for their peers. This is a way for the students to go back and improve before handing in the final result. The video also talks about how it is more important if a student can go up to the front of the class and explain/present the questions they did in front of their peers. This is also more valuable than asking your students to do questions on a piece of paper and then hand it in. I also agree with this because I remember in high school how some students were scrambling last minute to try and get the answers for some of the questions from their classmates or from their friends. This way they are not learning anything at all. They are just copying the answers from their friends to make sure they get a good mark in the end and that it is completed. When really this isn’t very smart, as how much the students know will reflect on the exams that they write. This way if students have to go to the front and talk about the process they did for their questions, this ensures that all students are responsible for doing their own work and they are contributing to their own learning. This is also a good way for the teacher to assess the students when they go to the front and discuss their problem to their peers. This process also allows the students to ask questions to the presenters.

Lastly, the video talks about the importance it is for high school math teachers to change the different forms of assessment provided. The changing of assessment will offer students better instruction and build a greater self-confidence in their ability to do math in the end. I think in the end this will be very beneficial as it will start steering away from the idea of students copying assignments off their peers and not necessarily learning or contributing to their own learning in any way. I also think that if students are provided with more forms of assessment they could have a different view on mathematics if they are excelling at it.

I think that you should take some time and watch this video as it has a lot of information on here that could help you understand mathematics at a different level. It could help you get a better understanding of math instead of always just memorizing different concepts and finding math to be useless and not important in our lives. It is also more beneficial to actually see these different things being implemented in a classroom as opposed to just reading about it.

Another video that I watched was called Beyond Testing. This video also talks about how assessment is changing because how children are learning is also changing. It talks about how learning is now based on the process of making sense or making meaning of math, whereas learning use to be all about acquiring information. Students are now also expected to be able to make connections between mathematics and the real world. Due to all these changes, teachers have to change the way they assess their students on what it is they are doing and instead start evaluating their performances. I believe that this is really important as what students come up with for the final answer shouldn’t be as important as how they got there. By being more concerned about how the students got to their final answer makes it easier for teachers to assess the students. Not only is it easier to assess, but also teachers can see how they need to change their instructions if students do not understand how to do the problems properly and so on. After all, assessment is based on the different perspectives the students can have and not just about what percentage they get in the end. The video emphasizes that assessment affects and drives instruction. What we assess and how we assess communicate to a teacher certain skills, practices and knowledge that are very important. The video emphasizes that it is important to assess students in a variety of ways as they all learn in multiple different ways. I think this is extremely important as in high school we were only assessed through exams and quizzes. I don’t think this is fair at all considering the idea that not all students do well on exams.

The video talks about how we should begin to utilize performance based assessment more. This gives you more information from different perspectives, you can hear the students’ explanations of their ideas, you see how they can response to particular questions and you can see how they solve problems. By allowing for this type of assessment it allows for a more complete and balanced conception of students as well as promote equity in the classroom. Equity is the vehicle for being successful. So as a teacher you need to offer the opportunity for students to demonstrate what it is they know and you also need to be flexible so that you can recognize that there are different ways of demonstrating this knowledge. I agree with this, as I don’t think it is fair to be assessing students on things that they are not comfortable with demonstrating. For example, if students are bad at exams don’t assess them strictly on exams as that is not fair and doesn’t provide the opportunity for your students to demonstrate all that they have learned.

This video goes on to explain the four broad purposes of assessment. These include: monitoring student progress, making instructional decisions, evaluating student achievement, and evaluating programs. Assessment allows teachers to see if their students understand what they are learning and if they have to change their instruction to meet the needs of the students. It is important to involve your students in the assessment process. Assessment is also a form of improving teaching in the classroom. I think assessment needs to be utilized more and provided in a variety of ways in a classroom. I know this was not always the case in high school as there were rarely any forms of assessments apart from the exams.

This is another video that you should take a look at, as it can give you a better understanding of how assessment can be changed in a classroom and how it can be both beneficial for both the students and the teachers in the end. This video is also a great visual on how assessment can be used apart from the traditional exams. Instead this video streams away from the exams and uses a variety of different methods to assess the students. I hope these two videos and this information was enough to help you understand the importance it is for teachers to provide the proper assessment to their students. I also hope that you begin to understand the importance behind each of these different assessment forms and understand that mathematics shouldn’t just be about how well you can memorize concepts and regurgitate them on exams. Mathematics is way more than just that!

Hope this all helps!