The paths to "Eureka" moments: Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

Archive for the ‘H4’ Category

Family and Community Involvement in Math Class

H4-Honor family/community involvement in the learning process

10-tips-for-aspiring-community-managers-62a426a5f8

Teacher-candidates inform, involve, and collaborate with families/neighborhoods, and communities in each student’s educational process, including using information about student cultural identity, achievement and performance.

 

As a teacher, I seek out support for my students in all areas including their families. I recognize that students are greatly influenced by their families and communities both in life and academics. For this reason, one of my goals as a teacher is to interact with parents in a positive way, providing them with feedback on student learning and opportunities for ways for collaboration in learning.

At the middle school we recently began the second semester. As a way of introducing myself and initiating conversations with parents, I sent out a newsletter both electronically and in printed form. In order to ensure families received the newsletter, I asked students to have a parent or guardian sign the newsletter and bring it back to class. The class period that turned in the most newsletters (by percentage of class) received cupcakes!

Since I teach two different classes, algebra and 8th grade math, I sent out two different versions of the newsletter explaining the role I play in class as well as what students have accomplished over the last few weeks and what the game-plan is for the next unit.

2nd Semester Newsletter Algebra     2nd Semester Newsletter 8th Grade

These newsletters demonstrate an inclusive approach to students’ learning. In response to electronic copies of the newsletter, I received several confirmations by parents expressing appreciation for be included in their student’s learning. This opened the pathway of communication and allowed parents to view me as a support for their children.

community_pic1

In creating the newsletters, I was conscious of how I chose to present myself as an advocate for students’ learning. I also wanted to include evidence of students’ learning and give a specific example of student work and achievement (see newsletter attached for picture). I did this by integrating a picture of student work. In this way, I expressed my excitement of student accomplishment and appreciation of student work ethic.

Posting the picture provided an opportunity for students to be proud of their work and learning. By summarizing what the students had accomplished in the last few weeks, students could reflect on how much they had done. Additionally, by outlining the next unit, students can be confident in what they will be doing in the next few weeks. This provides parents and guardians the opportunity to discuss math topics with their students and investigate the extent of learning taking place.

As a teacher, I value family and community involvement, knowing that these are two great influences on the lives of my students. It is my goal to involve family and community members in the learning experience of my students and promote positive discussions on classroom work and achievement.

 

(Above picture not of actual students)

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Service Learning Project

One of the requirements in my Introduction to Education class was to participate in a service learning project. My own experience took place at Coe Elementary School in a 3rd grade classroom. I was an aid to the teacher once a week for a total of 21 hours.

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Below is a paper written describing how this experience has changed my understanding of the four pillars: Service, Leadership, Competency, and Character.

Service Learning Paper: Where I Was and Where I Am Going

As I reflect upon my time spent at Coe Elementary during my service learning hours, I am able to compare my initial understanding of how service, leadership, competence, and character, are seen in the classroom, to my previous understanding.

On the first day of Intro to Education, I wrote the following four definitions as they apply in the classroom setting. First, service is observed in a classroom when the teacher understands that teaching is not about his/herself, but about the student. A service minded teacher will make sacrifices for the students to promote better learning. Secondly, leadership is demonstrated when the teacher leads the class both instructionally and as an example. A leader recognizes the skills of those who follow him/her, and seeks to enhance those skills. Thirdly, a teacher seeks to promote competence – the ability to understand the subject matter. This involves problem solving and not simply memory recall. Fourth and finally, a teacher develops character in the classroom. Responsibility, integrity, and creativity are all elements important to education.

After having spent eight weeks in a third grade classroom, my views have become enhanced by the experiences I have had and the interactions I have observed.

As a teacher, service not only takes place inside the classroom, but in the community and among educational faculty. This can take the form of anything from an after school program like refereeing a student football game, to spending hours at night working on prepping for an in-class Mother’s Day project. A leader in the classroom knows the abilities of the students. A leader is able to multi-task, teaching new information to the entire class, but also providing individual feedback to students, asking them questions and challenging them at a personal level.

A competent teacher not only knows the subject matter to be taught, but knows it well enough to teach excellently. In order to ensure competence, a good teacher will continue their own education. This may be pursued by working to get a higher degree or through attending educational conferences and classes. Teachers must also promote competence within their classrooms. One way I observed this being accomplished in the third grade classroom was through peer discussions. Students explained to their neighbors what they had learned and their partners either added to or disagreed with what the first student had said. In this way, students were getting immediate feedback as well as demonstrating their understanding of the topic. Finally, character should be demonstrated by the teacher and encouraged within the student body. Teachers can be the example in character, by teaching “to the student”, not the test, and having organized lessons for efficient time management. Teachers can also encourage moral character within the student body through classroom policies and school-wide programs. Respect is one characteristic that must be shown to students in order for them to follow the rest. When teachers have the respect of their students, other important traits such as integrity, trust, and responsibility will follow.

As I conclude my volunteering at Coe Elementary, I plan to continue learning and growing in the four areas of service, leadership, competence, and character. In service, I will grow as I serve as the Sports Ministry Coordinator for Youth Missions International. Through Y.M.I. I will have the opportunity to work at sports camps, coaching elementary and middle school children. While the academic quarter continues, I will seek to serve my peers and colleagues here at S.P.U, striving to live a service-minded lifestyle on and off campus. As a staff leader with Y.M.I, I am constantly being challenged to grow in leadership skills. One particular challenge is how to assign volunteer leaders to the different camps in the Northwest. As the coordinator, I must assess the abilities and gifts of the volunteers and place them where they will work best. I will continue to grow in competence as I finish out my mathematics major and secondary education program here at S.P.U., but my education will not stop here. After I have graduated with my B.A, I will continue to learn about my field and how to be a better teacher. This will most likely take the form of a Masters degree. As a Christian, my education of character is never complete here on earth. As I continue in these last few years at SPU, and look forward to my career as a teacher, I will mold my character after the Greatest Teacher.

 

 

Film Review: Equality (1950-1980)

This post reflects on the film, Equality (1950-1980). Throughout the reflection, three questions will be answered.

1) Do you see any race inequalities in the film?

2) Is education a civil right?

3) What is our view of children and adolescents at that time?

Do you see any race inequalities in the film?

  • During the 1950’s segregation was a dominant theme throughout schools. Segregation was seen in:
    • Proms
    • Student government
    • Sports teams
    • School population
  • In many cases, schools were either all black or all white, depending on the location of the school.
  • Parents fought segregation of schools, wanting integrated schools
    • Boards thought they were separate but equal—this was not so.
    • Often the white suburban schools were well stocked and funded, while African American Schools were underfunded and without proper resources.
  • Beginning in 1930’s but continuing through the 50’s NAACP lawyers traveled to schools and inspecting to prove that African American schools did not have equal-facilities, resources, or environments.
  • In the late 1960’s many Mexican students were integrated into schools. Yet, most teachers were Anglo-American. These students were not allowed to speak Spanish in class, and textbooks did not reflect any positive aspects of the Mexican culture.
  • In Crystal City, school “walk outs” reflected a reaction to lack of equal education toward minority students. The action of going on strike was found necessary when the board of education in abruptly adjourned an educational meeting and debate in which students and protesters were voicing the needs of minority students.
  • As a result of the strikes, Crystal City schools became a laboratory for bilingual education.
  • At this time, several lawyers sued the San Francisco school district who taught English only. Equality of education requires different treatment to student of different languages.

 

Is education a civil right?

  • President Johnson- equal chance at education, meant equal chance at life
  • Civil rights act of 1964, banned discrimination on basis of race or ethnicity in any federally funded institution, including schools.
  • By the early 1970’s, feminist leaders pushed for movements which advocated women’s rights
  • At this time, it was legal for an educational institution to have a quota of women admitted to a graduate school.
  • Title 9 – 1973 had a groundbreaking precedent that if men and women were going to have equality in sports in schools, they should have equal funding.
  • Before Title 9, textbooks and reading books encouraged gender inequality by picturing boys as active members of society, while women stayed at home and cooked and cleaned.
  • Girls were discouraged from math/science, while boys were encouraged in sports
  • Title 9 said, you could not put men and women together in a sport and pick the best players (most often men), but there should be principals of equity in sports, (i.e. two sports teams, women’s leagues ect.)
  • As a result of Title 9, textbooks changed, sports teams for women were created, graduates of both men and women were close to equal, and job/career movements changed.


What is our view of children and adolescents at that time?

  • Movements of education representative of movements in adult life.
  • Children and adolescence became the training ground for change in society.
  • For the first time, all children and adolescence, both male and female, black and white, began to have the same rights and were given the same opportunities within school.

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This film is part of a series of four called:

School- “The Story of American Public Education”

It was produced by PBS and narrated by Academy Award winner Meryl Streep. For more information see link: http://www.pbs.org/kcet/publicschool/


Reflective Book Report: The Angel Inside Went Sour

Reflections on “The Angel Inside Went Sour”

Dr. Esther Rothman’s book, “The Angel Inside Went Sour” documents her position as the principal of Livingston School for girls in New York, beginning in 1959. Rothman, a well experienced teacher with a doctorate in psychology was highly qualified for any principal position by the time she was assigned to Livingston. This school was special in that it was the final destination for troublesome girls; a place where they were sent when they had been suspended from multiple public schools and even failed in the correctional schools. As a principal, Dr. Rothman drastically changed the daily routine and methods of Livingston. She hired teachers who could not only teach, but who loved teaching. Teachers at Livingston had to love learning from their students and be willing to put up with and love students who: used dirty language as their main vocabulary, acted without a sense of purpose, were frustrated with life, yet, fought to survive and keep above the water of hopelessness (Rothman 1972). She describes many examples and scenarios in which she both failed and succeeded in reaching out and showing girls that they were loved and could make something better of their lives.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed “The Angel Inside Went Sour”.  Through Dr. Rothman’s words, I was able to step inside the inner city school of Livingston and catch a glimpse at what real teaching is all about. At first, I was a bit shocked at the attitudes and vulgar language that the girls used; Rothman thoughtfully included word-for-word language of the girls for authenticity and honesty. But as I continued reading, I was thankful for the exposure to the everyday experiences that the teachers at Livingston had.

As an inner city school, Livingston was filled with girls from extremely rough home lives. Girls faced situations and experiences I could never dream of living through. I loved how Rothman took the school day and flipped it upside down by having the students choose their own schedule and which subjects they wanted to learn. This not only showed me the importance of giving students choices, but even a bit more control when they have none in their personal lives. I realize that this exact example is next to impossible for most schools, but in principal, the idea of breaking the mold, and molding education to fit the needs of students is revolutionary and very applicable to the classroom today.

Livingston was also a very multicultural school with the minority being white students. Rothman treated students of different ethnicities equally. She seemed to see race as a cultural boundary (Banks, 2010). Her staff was comprised of a mixture of races. Through her eyes, whether it be a student or teacher, she saw them as people. Dr. Rothman and her teachers did not simply overlook race and culture when teaching, they embraced it. They allowed the culture to change their curriculum so that it was designed specifically for their students (Banks, 2010).

I was continuously inspired by the way Dr. Rothman handled difficult situations and difficult students. Her methods were grounded in getting students to understand why they were hurt, why they felt the need to lash out at others, and how they might better fix the problem by being in control of themselves. She rarely “punished” girls. Punishment seems to be the easy way out of a problem, without really solving it (Rothman, 1972). Instead, Rothman worked through problems with students and found ways of rewarding those who were able to work through problems on their own.

As I continued to read, I was awestruck and challenged by the lives of the teachers at Livingston as well as by Dr. Rothman herself. They were able to see past the behavior of a student, and look deeper into the lives and hurts of students, in order to heal their broken self-worth. Students, no, people, came first. When a girl was at Livingston, she was not there to improve her reading, writing, or arithmetic; though she often did so. She was there to learn about herself, and hopefully come to the realization that she could be more. Teachers needed to be good at their subject. So good, so as to attract the attention and curiosity of girls who chose what they felt they should learn. But more than experts in their field, teachers needed to be invested in the lives of their students. They had to care more about the girls than they did about being cussed at. They had to care more about making a difference in the lives of their students than their test scores. These were real teachers.

When I am teaching, I hope to be able to model myself after the teachers at Livingston. They saw past race, social economic status, and reached out to hurting lives. Through respecting the students, and treating them like breathing, feeling, human beings, teachers were able to connect with students and make a difference. I want to put my students first. I will put their personal growth before my classroom agendas and be sensitive to the lives which they live. From a multicultural standpoint, I will defy racial and ethnic stereotypes and treat my students with respect. Doing this, I hope to also look through the behaviors of my students and dig deeper into the hurt causing their angel inside to be sour.

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References

Banks, J.A., & Banks, C.A. (2010). Multicultural education: issues and perspectives. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons

Rothman, E. P. (1972). The angel inside went sour. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books.