Monday, January 27, 2014

Problem Solving with Grade 4 Math

I believe many math teachers would agree that although fractions can be a challenge for students, solving word problems would be rated as a close second. It has been my experience working in an Urban district that students lack the "know how" to “Make sense and persevere in solving word problems”. It is a typical scenario when our students see a word problem they call out, “Miss, Miss, how do you do this?”  

So why won’t students just dive right in to word problems?  I believe there are many factors that contribute to this; such as language barriers, too much information in the problem, fear of not being able to solve word problems, or lack of a plan in solving them, among others. Yet with the Common Core State Standards in the works and the SBAC looming over our heads there is a dire need to equip students with the “know how” to tackle word problems. As we look into the Common Core Standards we can see that there is a greater emphasis placed on problem solving than on computation.   

In my position as a math coach I am responsible for supporting the teachers and students in my school therefore I believe it is necessary that I get a feel for teaching through these standards. My plan is to work with a group of 4th grade students,  meet 3 times per week (40 minute sessions), teach them how to create and solve word problems, and alleviate the fear or angst when they encounter them. Students will be using the program Shooloo as a tool to work backwards from. Students will not only be able to solve word problems with more confidence by creating and writing their own, but also make sense of the problems. . Shooloo allows students to write, publish, solve, and share authentically created word problems, thereby making math fun.  I am excited to work on a unit in math with the incorporation of technology in order to accomplish this goal. The focus of the lessons will be based on :

Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.4.OA.A.1 Interpret a multiplication equation as a comparison, e.g., interpret 35 = 5 × 7 as a statement that 35 is 5 times as many as 7 and 7 times as many as 5. Represent verbal statements of multiplicative comparisons as multiplication equations.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.4.OA.A.2 Multiply or divide to solve word problems involving multiplicative comparison, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem, distinguishing multiplicative comparison from additive comparison.1
  • CCSS.Math.Content.4.OA.A.3 Solve multistep word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using the four operations, including problems in which remainders must be interpreted. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding.
At the end of each week I will journal the weekly lessons and student participation with feedback on how we are progressing. I am going to set the stage for what was accomplished thus far in Week 1 of our Problem Solving Unit.
Week 1 - Administration of Pre-test
   Mini - lesson # 1: Introduction & Review of Problem Solving
   Mini-Lesson #2: Words and Operations Graphic Organizer
   Mini - lesson # 3 & 4 : Shooloo Lesson #5 Creating one - step word problems

Students were able to come up with many of keywords associated with the operations used in word problems. They then used the Operational Graphic Organizer to create and write 4 word problems in Shooloo using each of the 4 operations. This was followed by students constructively  commenting on 3 other students math posts.

Please visit my Professional Learning Hub for lessons and resources.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

ED 722 Week 4 Response MOOC's

There were a lot of new aspects of teaching and learning touched upon in our readings from both this course and our Global Literacy course so I hope I get them all straight in my responses this week. I also viewed additional information on this weeks topics as well as responses, points of view, etc. from my classmates, which by the way, were just so impressive. Having said that, my classmates and I are beginning a new  type of e-learning or online learning as we are all participating in a MOOC. #DLMOOC to be more specific. The focus of our Massive Open Online Course is “Deeper Learning”.  What's new and different is the amount of people involved in the course, many more than our usual 11 to 15.

As I have heard our professor mention the word MOOC’s many times in hangouts and discussions I must admit I did not exactly know what he was referring to. Now I do, as I have spent the week not only joining one, but also introducing myself and looking at other classmates introductions. I have also checked out the syllabus and have read and researched other resources about MOOC’s. I am hoping to learn more about Deeper Learning and as I mentioned in my storify about MOOC’s. I also hope to bring the information that I learn back to the teachers in my school. Please visit my Storify on MOOC’s.

Visit the following website: The William and Flaura Hewlitt Foundation and how they describe the meaning of Deeper Learning as well as the benefits it offers to students.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

ED 722 Week 3 Online Tool Tutorial

My school district has adopted a Singapore math based program called Math In Focus. One of the highlighted strategies in the program is the use of bar modeling to solve word problems. With bar modeling students draw bars in rectangular shapes to represent quantities. They can represent a problem which is termed a whole-part model by comparing two parts of unequal lengths which can be used to solve addition and subtraction problems. Another type of bar modeling called the comparison model in which students draw one long bar to represent a value and a shorter bar to represent a lesser value, these two bars are used to compare the quantities and the difference between the two numbers.

Last year when introducing the concept of bar modeling to the teachers at my school I came across the website “Thinking Blocks”. Thinking blocks is a great tool to use when modeling and practicing the solving of math word problems. Thinking Blocks is a free online math tool. Teachers are able to track a student's progress, however it is currently limited to the current session the student is working on. However, the website states that a data saving option may be available at a later date. Regardless, I saw that this site was very useful for teachers & students and at the same time user friendly. I thought it would be an appropriate online tool to do a tutorial on and share with others what it had to offer. Although my tutorial is 5 minutes in length it only touches upon a small portion of what the website offers. Please view the link to my "Thinking Block" tutorial.

Below are some additional resources.

Thinking Blocks

Examples of Bar Modeling

Singapore Math

Math In Focus

ED 722 Week 3 Learning Management Systems

 This weeks readings for course ED 722 dealt with Learning Management Systems (LMS). The article, "What are Learning Managements Systems, What are They Not, and What Should They Become" enlightened me into the world of LMS and the mis-labeling of systems that actually are NOT LMS's. As I am familiar with the e-learning systems used in my school's district and others, as well as being familiar with Blackboard- seeing it used at UNH,  I was not aware that those in fact are not considered to be "official" Learning Management Systems. However they can be paired or used as support to an LMS. I learned that a Learning Management System is much more.  For more details and explanation of Learning Management Systems please visit my Storify on LMS  .

My LMS Wordle

Saturday, January 18, 2014

ED 716 Global Literacy Week 2 Chapter 7 Summary

Chapter 7 - “Teaching for Global Competence”

This chapter addresses what teaching for global competence looks like as well as how teachers can design instruction to foster global competence among their students. It also details the pertinent questions teachers should keep in mind while designing such  instruction.

Those questions include:  
1. What topics matter most to teachers ?
2. What exactly will students take away from the unit project, visit, or course ?
3. What will students to learn ?
4. How will we know that the students are making progress.  

These four, coined the "Pandora questions", by David Perkins might appear simple on the surface yet they have proven to lead to very intricate and “fascinating” reflections for teachers. These questions do not dictate “how” or “what” teachers are to teach, but give a framework for teachers to use when constructing a unit focused on global competence. The chapter outlines 4 instructional design principles that teachers need take into consideration when designing a global competence unit. Those four principles are:
Identifying engaging topics of local global significance.
Focus on global competence outcomes.
Design performances of global competence.
Employ ongoing global competence-centered assessment.

Each of these principles are discussed in detail along with support and examples from a ninth grade Earth Science Unit. The “Pandora questions” offer a framework for teachers to consider when teaching global competence and can be seen in a more concise format in the diagram below

For the sake of summarizing the chapter, I will discuss each of these principles, but have you refer to Chapter 7 (pages 63 - 90) in Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World  by Veronica Boix and Anthony Jackson for examples from the ninth grade science unit.

When teachers begin to design a unit for global competency they need to first take into consideration, “ What topics are important to teach?”. There is not a simple answer to this question. Yet for topics to be globally significant they need to demonstrate the following qualities: deep engagement, clear local global connections, visible global significance, and strong disciplinary and interdisciplinary grounding. They also need to be relevant and interesting to the students and to the teacher designing the unit.

Next, “What exactly will students take away from the unit project visit or course?” In answering this question, there needs to be clear, effective, and manageable learning goals in order for students to gain the knowledge and skills needed to understand content with deep understanding. The skills and knowledge should come from more than one discipline. For example, if students are to become familiar with the employment of new digital media to teach their peers in Kenya and India how to build an organic garden, this would entail skills knowledge learned in both biology and communicating ideas from language arts. What is also important is for the goals to be shared with the students in a way that is clearly understood.

Third, “What will students do with this information? The learning experiences of the unit should be designed to lead students to think and apply concepts, methods, and tools from the various disciplines in order to make sense of global significance. When students can build upon and demonstrate the capacity to develop,understand, and act on matters of global significance it is called performances of global competence. These performances can take place at the beginning middle or end of the unit and can range from conducting experiments, creating arguments, producing a critique, or creating a work of art. Within the performances students are able to apply what they've learned in the classroom through the concepts and ideas learned. Performances also need to enable students to connect local experiences to the world. At times students may feel emotions such as: excitement, joy, compassion, fear, sadness, and anger when studying these global issues. These emotions usually lead to a feeling of conviction and want and eagerness to take action.Students, through these performances, are able to work through their emotions by either taking a position, creating a project, or solving a problem together.

Lastly, “How will the teacher know whether students are making progress?” Teachers should include a number of  goals when assessing students work that is focused on global competence. These goals include but are not be limited to: a student’s work habit, their commitment to monitoring depth, an understanding of the topic, how they recognize perspective, communicate ideas, and take action. Assessment during these units should also be ongoing and offer feedback to the students. Feedback and assessment should come from the teacher, but also include should also come from the student’s self-assessment, assessments/feedback from peers & teachers, from related discipline, and possibly members of the community or  field experts. Having a varied audience can be very powerful and empowering for the students.

In conclusion of Chapter 7 it is pointed out that teachers do not need to plan a full unit tied to global competence. They can,in fact, start very simple. Perhaps designing a few lessons within the unit that complement global competence, or have a debate, create & carry out an opinion poll, or write a paper from a certain person's perspective. It is suggested that while designing the instruction is not a linear process but one that is spirals and involves: brainstorming, designing, getting feedback, redesigning, testing ideas, reflecting, and redesigning again.

For those of you interested in the step by step process of designing a unit focused on global competency - Chapter 7 includes:  a checklist for teaching global competence and examples of global competence through investigating the world, recognizing perspectives,communicating ideas, and taking action.

Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World, Veronica Boix and Anthony Jackson, 2011.

Friday, January 17, 2014

ED 716 Global Literacy Week 2 Reflection

My reflections from Chapter 1 - Educating for Global Competence:Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World and keeping in mind the following:

I. From your perspective, in what ways are the societal and environmental
transformations here described affecting your students’ lives today? How will they
be affected in the future?

II. In your opinion, what are the key reasons for educating for global competence?
What are the barriers such an education might confront?

III. In your current opinion, what distinguishes a high- from a low-quality education of global competence ?

While reading Chapter 1 in Educating for Global Competence:Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World by Veronica Boix Mansilla & Anthony Jackson, I had many thoughts as well as a bit of anxiety thinking about global competency and the students in my school. My thoughts mainly focused on how seldom the students in my school actually thought or had discussions about people, places, and issues around the globe; let alone people, places, and issues right here at home.The anxiety and uneasiness I felt came from the thought of, “How are we going to get these students to become aware of the world around them, and that of other regions in the world ?” This comes at a time when we already feel such urgency to close the achievement gap, one of the many challenges we are faced with. Our current focus seems to be that of teaching students what they need in order to perform at or above grade level. When thinking about teaching with a focus on global education I feel that there’s a lot to think about, a lot to put into place, and not a lot of time. It concerns me that many of the jobs in the United States are being outsourced especially in the area of STEM careers. Our students, thinking more so at the middle school level, are not aware of how competitive the job world is. Whether you have a college degree or not. And to think that people from other countries are being hired at lower rates for the same skills and positions should concern them. However, it is the job of the teacher as well as the parents to educate the youth regarding these issues and to prepare them for the future.

Another difficult task we face as teachers in Urban areas in promoting global awareness is the lack of education among the parents and the lack of parental involvement. As educators, we do our best to promote higher education with our population of students (district wide) with special program, incentives, and college day kick-offs, to name a few. But it still doesn't seem to be enough, we need the parents to be involved and educated as well. Key reasons for educating for global competence is not only to be able to compete for jobs globally, solve problems at home and world wide, but to encourage students to feel and think that they have a “common responsibility to make the world work” (Tony Jackson,Global Confidence and Its Significance to the American Schools). Educating children towards global competence is a new way of teaching and learning yet we still remain focused on the teaching of our own history, problems/issues and people. Implementing global discourse and thinking in the classroom will also require teachers to think globally in order for their lessons to reflect that in the teaching of their content. It will also require students to have the means to access technology and the internet, both of which are at a current state of inequity among American students.

When looking at schools in terms of high- and low- quality global education there are many factors that need to considered. And although some schools have already established a globally focused curriculum,the majority of Schools in the U.S. have not, at least not yet. Schools whose academic curriculum is rigorous and attends to high achieving standards are the schools that will be able to teach their students how to think creatively, question appropriately, and apply what they know. But in order for that to happen teachers would need to be provided with a curriculum that is globally concentrated and one that includes professional development for teachers. Professional development that provided training and on-going support to highly qualified teachers. This I would consider to be a high quality global education system. Unfortunately it would be costly and not be feasible for all schools and districts. High quality global education would include investigating the world whether is be through studying abroad or using technology to communicate with other parts of the world; also costly. And finally, a high quality global education would have a focus on learning more than one world language.  Global competence appears to be the direction we should be pointing our children in, yet it will require time and planning, as well as for educators to see the importance and urgency of it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

ED 722 Week #2 Online Theory

This weeks reading's for course ED722 was about online learning and learning theories. As I began the viewing the assignments about learning theories it brought me back to our very first assignment,  Our Philosophy Statement, this summer for our IT&Digital Media Literacy program. In that assignment we were asked to write about a psychologist , theorists or educator that opposed our tenets of learning and I wrote,"I found that to be a somewhat difficult task. I think many of the views and opinions of these people (psychologists, theorists, and educators) are valid yet I don’t believe there is one best way for all to learn. As educators we have experienced a diverse pool of learners and thinkers" and therefore need to blend or use a variety of learning theories in order to meet the needs of our students. And that is what I still believe, however I am an advocate, obviously, of the online learning theory and it's powerful potential to teach our students about another important aspect of teaching which is global education. 

Here is my Storify on Online learning.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Using Storify to create a short story about Distance Learning

As one of our first assignments this semester in my ED 722 class we were required to use Storify to talk about Distance Learning. The article Distance Education in the Unites States: Past, Present, Future by Farhad Saba enlightened me about a range of information concerning the topic.

After viewing a very helpful YouTube video on How to use Storify, sent to me by one of my classmates, I felt somewhat confident in using the tool. When I first started figuring out how to maneuver within the site and set up my story it seemed to be a bit time consuming. But, I soon got the hang of it, and found it to be such a creative way to discuss a topic/subject matter which allowed you to embed links, images, tweets, videos, articles, etc. from a variety of other sources. Basically I went through the information in the article and added supportive images, tweets, and news articles relating to the many aspects of Distance Education.

I can see how this tool would be highly engaging for students as well as tap into their creativity. I would like to eventually have students use this tool for an assignment when the opportunity arises, seeing that I do not have my own classroom and I teach math. However, I really enjoyed using Storify !

Here is the link to my first Storify creation.

Friday, January 3, 2014

ED 722

As an introduction to our ED 722 Course please read below some facts about me.

11 Random Facts About Me

I was born one of three girls and I now have 3 sons. Going from girl world to boy world is quite different, but its a great experience.

Growing up, my sister's and I loved to play card games, backgammon and laugh at each other when in embarrassing situations.  My husband says he doesn't  get our humor ! 

I think my parents are two of the best people I have met in my life. 

I was a swimmer for 4 years on the Cheshire High School Team.

I attended Simmons College in Boston.  What a great city to live in!

Traveled to France with 2 of my very good friends.

My husband, 3 boys, and I love to ski.

From age 38 to 42 I entered 3 mini -Triathlons. Need to get back that motivation to exercise.

I hate the taste of raw onion because  it ruins the taste in so many foods, especially potato salad.

I do enjoy eating seafood, ALL kinds!

I like to cook and drink red wine. 

Other Facts About Me

  1. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken? I would have to say with my family and my parents to the Island of St. Martin.
  2. What is your favourite movie?  "When Harry Met Sally
  3.  Can you play a musical instrument? No, but I wish I could play the guitar.
  4. When did you know what you wanted to do for a Career? How did you discover that? I was 25 years old and working in a REALLY boring job at a diagnostic chemical company. Heard about UNH’s Master ‘s Program in Education and decided teaching was for me.
  5.  What is on your bucket list? Enter a Triathlon (actually did that even though it wasn’t a full course) visit Spain, and get my Emergency Medical Technician License. Yes, pretty random, not sure where they came from but I will probably be revising those.
  6. What are your top three favourite books of all time ?      Charlotte’s Web – as a child , The Red Tent – as an adult , and  Giraffes Cant Dance – what I loved reading to my boys when they were younger.
  7.  What are 3 things that matter to you?
    My Family

    8.     What is the best advice you can give to your children?
    Show good character, work hard and enjoy what you do, and love the people around you.