Thursday, November 25, 2010

Math Picture

This one is just cool and not just because I love The Lord of the Rings.


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Saturday, November 20, 2010

What is Important in Math

This is a great Ted Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/conrad_wolfram_teaching_kids_real_math_with_computers.html

The basic question is should we teach students how to do stuff by hand or is it better to teach concepts?

This isn't to say calculators should be introduced in kindergarten, but honestly let's question what is important when teaching math.


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Friday, November 12, 2010

Teaching Kids to Think

1st days of school 012Image by dendari via FlickrThe 2010 K12 Online Conference (blocked in district) just ended. The most useful presentation I saw was this one by Chris Betcher, about using scratch in the classroom. He has a little more information and the complete 20 minute presentation on his web site (open to the district) and some further information on a wiki. (also open to the district) After about two minutes into the video I think you will find that programming in Scratch is not only easy, but can really enhance learning. 

Scratch is a simple programming language developed by MIT specifically to help middle school and high school student learn math and computer programming. If your students find Scratch too easy or want to stretch their wings they can also try Alice. Originally developed by Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University.

Scratch and Alice are separate free downloadable computer programs. However, I am assuming that if requested it can be downloaded and installed on your computer.
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Brain Based Research in the Classroom


I’ve heard a lot about brain-based research, but haven’t really puzzled out what it might look like in the classroom. Then I read a blog that suggested Kenneth Wesson.  
Evidently he is a brain researcher and a Science teacher. (college)
I’ve gone through some of his slides. I’ll share a couple of interesting points, but I don’t want to be rude and share too much when you can easily go to his site and look at them yourself.
More brain cells must fire actively to keep the body still than are required for movement.  Keeping the brain’s inhibitory neurons active requires more concentration of valuable brain resources than executing physical movements.  When cognitive energies are diverted from learning to keeping still, we need to decrease our expectations for learning outcomes
•A 5th grade class in Charlotte, NC -  increased attention spans and facilitated good posture. The classroom - a sea of motion - children bob and weave, sway and bounce their way through lessons perched atop fitness balls.
•A Mayo Clinic study found that these balls burn calories, attacking the growing problem of childhood obesity. Fidgety students or those with ADD/ADHD have an outlet for their excess energy. Concentration increases and physical conditioning is improved because of the work involved in staying on top of the ball.
• Studies show more time spent on task and less time squirming while students sat on the balls, “People are not meant to sit still.”

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Teacher observation and post conference write up

Enthalpy profile of an endothermic reactionImage via WikipediaA two-piece post. Look for the second part at my other site

I observed an 8th grade Science class. This specific class was a lab to determine if temperature changes increase chemical reactions and whether a reaction is endothermic or exothermic.
For the post-observation conference I pulled the teacher out of her lunch period, because we had had so many scheduling conflicts it wasn’t funny. She was very good-natured about it.  She choose to sit next to me instead of across the table, but that may have been just so her back wasn’t to the camera.
We both share space in the “new teacher” office, so we know each other fairly well. She is normally a very reserved and quiet person. During the conference she was also trying to eat lunch.  Halfway through the discussion as I was asking her questions such as “why did you choose that method”, and “how could you have done it differently” she became noticeably more animated. She stopped eating, made direct eye contact, and leaned into her words. She spoke confidently, using sound supporting arguments for what and how she taught, yet still seemed open to the idea that her choices were just that, choices. That another teacher could have taught the lesson differently and have been just as effective.
Though this teacher is only in her third year, I would probably consider her, as Glickman termed it, a “solid” teacher.  She has an excellent grasp of her content and teaches a strong lesson.  She is happy to be observed and I think willing to examine her own teaching style and look for improvements.
During the post observation interview I found it very productive to point out her strengths. (She seemed genuinely surprised) Then I asked her how she thought the lesson went. I asked a few clarifying questions to get her thinking. There weren’t any problems to fix, but if I were her supervisor I might have asked her what areas she thought she could or would work on and how she could do so before our next observation.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Teacher Skills 2

A slideshow presentation I created about a year ago. I still love it.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Texting in the classroom - No not the dreaded cell phone

Are the same students answering all the questions in your classroom? Would it help if the answered were anonymous? Would you like to poll the class, but don't have a set of clickers? It is as easy as pie just use http://www.polleverywhere.com/ While not perfect this can at times take the place of a $1500 set of classroom clickers. How do students answer the poll, well that is a bit tricky. responses are logged using a web browser, twitter, or text message. Twitter of course is blocked in the school. The web page should work if each student has a computer. the cell phone of course is supposed to be turned off and in the locker. The exact policy is "Cellular telephones or PDAs that also are telephones (collectively referred to as Cell phones) are for emergency parent/guardian contact purposes only, unless otherwise authorized for use by school administrators." '
I would suggest talking to your building principal about a test run. Just make sure you couldn't do the job just as well with a small whiteboard and markers.
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