Thursday, December 4, 2014

Breaking my silence: Where I am today

The title probably makes it sound like I'm going to talk about some controversial topic that I've just been holding back on for beyond my limits. Maybe it would have been a good title to boost my statistics had I actually be making any money on these posts. Where it is actually coming from is, for the past year I've spent a lot of my time keeping closer with the students in my classroom, my family and in collaborating with the teachers in my building. I became a little turned off from the self-promotion and "making a name for myself" attitude that I was seeing more of in the edu sphere and creeping up in myself as well.
I had a chance to catch up with a good friend last night on the phone that also happens to be in education. Talking with him some about this he reminded me that it is still important to share our experiences with other teachers for the sake of the kids and improving our schools for them. So that being said, even after 12 years of teaching, I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing but will share a new post on where I am today and the journey that I hope is ahead for my classroom.
I'd like to believe that my classroom is centered more this year and last on conversations between students 70% of the time each day. That as often as I can I'm providing activities that first help them to explore and build their understanding that at some point tip toward developing efficient and meaningful math skills development and solid mathematical thinking. I am thankful for the continual improvement of resources like Desmos' Function Carnival in having some engaging ways of doing that in a way that is fun for kids. I also like the idea that it isn't just the typical edtech garbage--that there are good math people I know under the hood developing it in a thoughtful way.
This year in my professional reflection process I'm desiring to make a better connection to activities like this and what we are learning rather than just having isolated fun, engaging things that don't really move my students to a better understanding of the other class stuff we do.
Today we are unpacking what we did yesterday through function carnival and my hope in this activity was to lead kids to develop the skills necessary for future success based on what they explored yesterday.  This lesson started with students thinking individually, sharing with their partner and then having a large class discussion for the first 10 minutes of class and then partners moving forward at their own pace, discussing and writing their responses. I was free to talk with groups as the need came up and pulled us together as a group as it seemed necessary.
I think this is an area that we need to get better at as teachers--myself included. Yes, still trying to incorporate explorations and investigations but then getting better at connecting those activities to learning and use of those skills learned in future learning opportunities. Maybe in sites like Function Carnival there could be a teacher lesson pool that we could start sharing ways of getting to that with students?

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