Monday, November 21, 2016

Student engagement doesn't just happen

Student engagement doesn't just happen. You have to plan for it. You have to design your lessons for it. I used to do a lot of powerpoints and worksheets. I would spend whole periods having the students take notes, or make flipbooks. This is just mindless copying. Their brain is not engaged.  Then I would have them practice over and over the same thing. I wondered why a third of my students failed the test. This is not engagement, this is monotony and boredom. Math should be fun and interesting, not a chore. I knew I could do better.
     It wasn't until I got 20 computers in my classroom and did a collaborative project, that I realized what true engagement was. I got so excited,I wanted to learn everything there was about blended learning. I booked a tech coach once a week to learn a new skill. I went to ED camps and talked to other teachers about what they were doing in their classrooms. I joined Twitter and began reading math teachers blogs that inspired me.Next, I started creating my own assignments. There's nothing more empowering them this. Yes, I still use the same tests that I'm required to give for the IM1 class ,but my lessons are so very different than they were before.
     Now when I plan a lesson, I think about” is this engaging? What will the students learn by doing this? How can students create something, or add something of their own to the project or assignment? What are the DOK levels? “ Note taking is DOK 0.
I can do better. I have a different mindset.
     Making videos for the students to watch with their headphones has increased student engagement, and increased test scores. They are much more engaged watching me teach on a video, and working collaboratively with their own peers; than they ever were listening to me drone on at the front of the room.
    Creating lesson plans has become fun. Making the lessons engaging for the students is exciting and fun for me also. Devoting time to this has become a joy instead of a chore.I love creating things and so do the students! Isn't this what we all want as teachers. Students engaged and learning makes everyone happy. Happy teacher, happy students, happy administrators, happy parents!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

CMC math conference reflections

Wow what a memorable experience! Presenting is a very different experience than being a participant. So many things to worry about. To make sure that the Internet was working in the room, I went early and sat in someone else's session. I politely informed them that I wasn't going to be participating because I was just checking out the room and the Internet. They were very understanding and encouraging. Luckily I presented after lunch, so I was able to eat lunch in the room and even run through a little bit of the presentation.The microphone was set up for a panel. But there was NO WAY I was going to sit there and talk into the microphone the whole time.I asked the tech guy to set up a microphone and a stand for me.
     My presentation was very well prepared. John Stevens, and Paula Torres (my tech coaches) went over my presentation and made lots of suggestions. John warned me that he had bad luck with the Internet at the Hard Rock Hotel ,so I made a backup PowerPoint just in case. But by God’s grace, everything worked fine.
     The people started coming in early, and I was excited to see my colleague Rita in the room. My teaching partner Candace who's been on leave helped me greet people and get them logged into Nearpod. I was so thankful she was there because there were a lot of people that came late and needed the code to login. My session time and place had been changed from Saturday to Friday ,so there were some people that were expecting someone else. So I announced at the beginning the name of the session, and told them the other presenter had been changed to tomorrow. Many of them decided to stay anyways. That’s what happens when they change your time and venue.  But I'm not complaining. The ones that were there were enthusiastic!
     I was anxious at first , but as I went on I relaxed and started to have fun. The presentation in the next-door room was a “family feud “ game demonstration, so every once in awhile when the music was too loud, I had to walk up to the participants to hear their questions.I was able to go through all that I had planned, and was even able to add a few things at the end.The participants loved playing the Quizizz game.
     I was kind of nervous about the evaluation that the participants texted to poll everywhere. But I got a lot of positive comments, that were VERY encouraging.It validated to me that I'm doing the right things in my classroom.