Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays (Only, It’s on a Friday) – PD: Action, Passion, and Acdvocacy for All

I am a professional development junkie.  This month has provided me with an abundance of PD binging.    And Duh duh duh duh duh I’m loving it.

What follows are snippets from my binge.   

I started the month participating in the third of a series of English Language Learners trainings provided by Education Northwest.   

How are you feeling so far in our work?  I am hungry.  I want to learn more.   I want to change my major. ūüôā

How has our work impacted your craft?  I notice the use of the word apprentice.  I look for language in action.

Big take away:  Language is a tool we use to act in the world.  

The following day, I was a pirate.   From Dave Burgess I learned that pirate teachers have passion 

Passion in content,  what in the content are you passionate about?  Within my profession what am I passionate about?  You don’t have to have an assignment from a teacher to learn.  Life changing impact!   Outside of my profession what are you passionate about?

Teacher pirates are immersed.  

Immerse yourself in the moments.  When I am doing whatever I do am I doing just that?

Pirate teachers have a rapport with students and colleagues.   They build relationships.

 Relationships of influence.   This is a no meanness zone.   1 minute of informal interaction with a student is worth 10 hours of instructional time.

Pirate teachers also ask and analyze.   

Ask because questions are the key to creativity.

Don’t give homework give challenges!  This provides creative alchemy.Create a capture system for you ideas.  Brackets are engaging. Be prolific not perfect

Pirate teachers transform

Transformation …. you can’t be good you have got be remarkable.  

If they didn’t have to be there would you be teaching to an empty room?  Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?

Finally, pirate teachers engage.   Dave Burgess definitely delivered on engagement.   

Now I am at the ORTII conference.   I came here thinking I would learn strategies and skills, but the keynote address by Anthony Muhammad changed my focus.   I am now thinking about culture.  

Culture = soil and technical innovation = seeds.  We need a fertile soil.   

Prior to this conference, I was an Anita Archer virgin.   I heard I would love her.  I heard she was the best.  She did not disappoint and caused me to rethink some of my deeply held beliefs (i.e., beliefs about spelling and I do, we do, you do).  However, she made us put away our phones so I was not able to capture my thoughts here.   I will have to report back at a later date.  

So are have they reached teacher crush status?   The verdict is still out on that one.   I still need to try things out and process.  Again,  I will have to report back.

Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays – In Summary

Our focus this year has been summarizing.  We have placed additional emphasis on using summaries to increase student learning in mathematics.

Today was our instructional rounds.  Administrators and coaches from throughout the district gathered at our school to observe in the classrooms and collect data related to 5 steps of summarizing.   These steps are:  comprehension, chunking, compacting, conceptualizing, and connecting.

I have struggled with the idea of summarizing in mathematics.   Not because I don’t think it is valuable, but because I am not sure what it looks like.   Today brought some clarity…I think.

Here are my thoughts…so far

  1.  Parts of mathematics  …the algorithms, conditional statements, and formulas, etc…. are summaries.   They succinctly describe how to solve problems and define relationships.  So we teachers need to consider what and how we are asking students to write summaries.
  2. Traditionally, we have made it easy on our students.  We have summarized the summaries, if you will.  We have explicitly taught the skill first then added the context.  If I were to change one thing about my past experience teaching mathematics, I would change this.   Instead of starting a lesson with a lecture, I would start with a task.   I would have the students then summarize their own thinking around the task.  Then collectively we would summarize a strategy related to a task.  And then, I would share the common algorithm or compare class thinking to common theorems or definitions.
  3. If/when I asked my students to summarize around a standard algorithm, I would expect the summary to actually add back in the extra details.  Thus summary does not equal less words…especially in mathematics.
  4. And the five steps of mathematical summary are more like an escalator in my mind.  It is difficult to distinguish where one step ends and the other begins.  You can slide right in to the next level without realizing it.
  5. For the sake of clarification though, this is how a see a summary of mathematical problem solving within the 5 step framework.
    • comprehension:  The student reads and understands the problem.  This might call for an explanation of vocabulary.  It might also prompt further questioning on the part of the student.
    • chunking:  Students generate a list of smaller steps or tasks.  Based on the questions they generated in the previous step.
    • compacting:  Students begin to answer questions and simplify the process.  They eliminate unnecessary steps in the name of efficiency.  They use variables and generate a general process for solving similar problems.
    • conceptualizing:  Students use examples or models to verify and illustrate their process.
    • connect:  Students write a statement to formalize the problem solving process.  In connection to this, the student explains why the process works.

So in summary, mathematics is about problem solving.  When we create algorithms or make conjectures and defend these with a valid but succinct argument, we are in effect summarizing our problem solving practice.

Update:  In a moment of reflectioon I wrote the following at an ELL training as I considered language as action.

A summary is stripped of all the hard work (language and mental processing) that comes with producing it! To give a summary outside of context is meaningless. To not ask students to engage in summarizing (writing), is a disservice. It renders the content meaningless.

Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays – An Elixir…

…for this teacher heart.

Spring Break, in my opinion, is the best of all breaks.   In the past I might have said it was the unexpected snow day.  But nine of them in one month?  Well, that is just wrong and has entirely ruined their reputation.

There is something about Spring Break that is magical and restorative.   It is an elixir.

This may sound strange, but I like to stay home over my breaks.  Travel is nice and all, but when I do this over break, I never feel like I have had a break when it is time to return.

So here is my recipe for the perfect Spring Break Elixir.

  1.  Select a good book.  This year I selected And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick.
  2.  Find some new podcasts…and listen to your regulars.  I recommend:
    • The Learning Leader Show With Ryan Hawk
    • TED Radio Hour
    • The Wired Educator Podcast
    • Life in 22 Minutes
    • Instructional Coaching Corner
    • The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey
    • Confessions of a Farm Wife
    • Tch Talks
    • Mormon Channel Daily
    • Disney Story Central Podcast
    • Half Size Me
    • Talks with Teachers
    • The Cult of Pedagogy
  3.  Make a chore chart and listen to those podcasts while you are working away.  IMG_0961 Don’t forget to schedule in some me time.
  4.  Take a walk in the evening.
  5.  Take some photos. 
  6.   Spend LOTS of time with your family. 
  7.   REPEAT

I hope your Spring Break is an elixir for your teacher heart.

via Daily Prompt: Elixir

Teaching Tuesdays

Teacher Tuesday – Minimal Pairs

Well let’s just change that to Teacher Tuesday on a Wednesday Morning. ¬† Sorry, I just had a headache yesterday.

However, I was pondering the word of the day Minimal and came up with very little to write about.  Ha ha..but true.    While seeking inspiration, I happened upon the definition for minimal pairs  which are words that differ by only one sound.  These pairs of words can cause pronunciation problems for our ELL students as well as others.

True story: ¬†I did not learn/hear the difference between sit and set until my first year teaching. ¬†Imagine my embarrassment when a whole study hall asked “Do you mean sit down?” ¬†after I had asked them to set down.

It turns out I have a problem hearing/pronouncing the difference in minimal pairs.  I still struggle to pronounce the long e sound in words.  For example,  deal is pronounced dill,  feel is pronounced fill, etc.

And there was the time I was wrote about¬†perspective teachers throughout one of my Master’s papers. ¬†Yup, another embarrassment. ¬†I still struggle with pre, pro, and por…and rely on spell check heavily to help me with this.

I always thought one had a sick sense…and people believe in old wise tales.

So it turns out that these pairs play a not so minimal part in my life. ¬†But I am surprised I am just now learning about them. ¬†(Keep in mind, I am a math major though…so that likely explains it.)

I have not had time to explore this further, but I will be checking out minimal pairs pronunciation activities and thinking about ways to incorporate them into my teaching and learning. ¬† ¬†I also want to explore the connections to this morning’s late-start meeting where we discussed language development. ¬† (Related side note: ¬†Today was the first time¬†I realized {yes, I pronounce this rilized}¬†listening¬†is¬†a component¬†of language.) ¬†My favorite quote from today’s meeting.

Language is a tool we use to ACT in the world.

I want to act fully in the world and I want my students to act fully as well. ¬†I would hate to think that minimal pairs limit students’ or my own participation in the action, but I have a hunch that sometimes it might.

Please share if you know of strategies that work.