Problem. Solving?

The problem solving model

Over the years I have seen and almost tried it all but every time I got to problem solving it didn’t matter what new model I was trained on it wasn’t as effective as I thought that it should be.  I spent a great deal of my time trying to convinced the students that they could not only remember the problem solving process presented but that they could eventually flow through it on their own.  I realized that it was like pulling teeth with the students because I couldn’t get them to connect to or buy into the process.  I was also battling previous required rote skills that meant nothing to many of them.  I started to talk with the students about the processes that they have tried and the strategies they remembered to use.  Many teachers use and swear by the examples below and I’m all for reaching every learning so by all means if they work then allow students the success in using them.  I just could not get them to draw it, fill it in, remember it or use it successfully.

Problem Solving Template Example

Frayer Model Example

Problem Solving Steps

I knew that there had to be something else that I could do to best reach my students and bring a little joy back into the problem solving process.  I watched the student frustrations, listened to misconceptions and looked through their attempted processes to assist me in thinking about a possible solution.

Continue reading “Problem. Solving?”

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Posted in A marathon NOT a sprint, Driving Disruption, Insanity

Insanity

Each school year just about everything changes except the way that we approach it.  I love the idea of a fresh start for each student (each day) and a great deal of the material should be presented daily to each fresh started student.

I feel that math hasn’t changed so much over the last decade that we have to confuse students and push parent help away.  The idea of “my way” that tends to be standard reasoning to enforce memorization is frustrating to me.  On one hand we stand to embrace uniqueness to assist with social bullying problems but then we demand that everyone solve math problems the same exact way for fear of failure. This is where the importance of the growth mindset becomes the catalyst for change and helps the COVA method to become more widely excepted.

I believe is trying to solve the problem from outside of the box but not in a scripted or practiced way.  I tend to use analogies and many real life references to not only engage my students but help them to see how and why each concept is worth trying to learning.

Posted in A marathon NOT a sprint, Driving Disruption, Insanity

Make it relevant

I realized that engaging students at the beginning of the class wasn’t enough.  The entire lesson needed to have splashes of color more like an abstract not a color by number picture.  Analogies that are relative to a student’s school day, social life, home life or even popular movies, television shows, songs and celebrities keep the students drawn into the material.  I naturally insert my humor and quirky personality throughout the class period creating a different atmosphere within my room that encourages students to try which assists me in best helping them.

I love math and love winning over students who think that they hate it.  Each class of each day is not guaranteed to run exactly the same way.  I value wait time and I consider but don’t make excuses for individual student situation but I never lower my expectations.  My strategies in the classroom are not always understood or supported by my administrative staff but I can see the successes even after struggles and failing forward.  As I come up with abstract lessons I’d like to share them here in hopes of gaining feedback and/or inspiring others to leap off the pages in the textbook or worksheets.

erik_johansson_030

 

I believe that if you make the learning relative and engaging then the students will take what they have learned and the passion to continue to do so with them when they leave.

Posted in Driving Disruption

Failing Forward

Upon starting the Digital Leading and Learning graduate program at Lamar University I was ready to push myself to be the best student and succeed.  I was fully under the impression that this program would be just like any other graduate program so I would need to read all of the books ahead of time and began to form my essays before the first assignments.  I finished the entire book before I was fully registered and when the blackboard opened I began to draft each discussion assignment to have done ahead of time so that I could just hit submit.  After the first class I realized that this class was going to be very different.  Once I was not just told about but completely immersed in the COVA (Choice, Voice, Ownership and Authenticity) model I was terrified.  I have never experienced education like this for myself even though I have seen the value and try to provide parts of it to my students year after year.

I was not terrified that I didn’t know how to use COVA I was terrified of not being told what to do and how to do it.  I freaked out because I didn’t know my boundaries or what the structure was.  I was allowed to have a different way to convey the same message as someone else.  I love being unique so I was excited to try something new and learn out of the box methods or platforms to share with the class.  On the other hand my anxiety was through the roof because I just knew that I couldn’t just turn in assignments that are “wrong”.

failing_forward bike
I am better now and recovering quite nicely 🙂

 

I truly belief that my constant work to stay in the growth mindset is what has made me able to fail forward.  Mistakes are not the end of the world but are instead a chance to learn and improve which helps me to get closer to success.  As I continue this program I know that it will take work to make sure that I am staying in the grow mindset but it will all be worth it in the end.  I see that my “yet” may not be easy but I am ready and willing to trade it in for my “can’t”.  Through this course I will not only be able to make changes within myself but within my classroom and on to my organization as a positive yet authentic leader.

Posted in A marathon NOT a sprint, Driving Disruption

Professional Learning Groups

I have always thought of professional learning groups outside of the math department at my school as something that would have to be purchased and paid for annually to utilize.  I figured that I could just use google to get or make some of the same connections or obtain information. The professional learning groups are going to help me to collaborate more and create low stakes islands for myself to accomplish some of my goals that get pushed aside in the daily whirlwind of work tasks.

I previously researched the ISTE conference that is being held this summer (2017) in San Antonio but I had never thought about just joining the free professional learning groups that are mentioned on the site.  I honestly didn’t look into it because I thought that one would have to pay for the conference before they could have access to any of the “goodies” from the website.  I’m glad that this assignment made me take a second look at the website.  I joined the learning groups.  I was also able to download a free e-book about digital connections in the classroom and there is even a section that details the development of digital citizenship.

When I first started teaching I was a consumer but as I gained my own stride I began to contribute.  Once I started to share my ideas with anyone that I could I noticed something very odd and upsetting.  Rejection of ideas that were not originated by the recipient seem to be the culture of the department.  Collaboration was really forced teacher meetings where everyone had to pretend to care about other ideas when the administrator was in the room.  Upon leaving our collaboration meetings the “team” disseminated to plan what they were really going to use for their lessons.  This made me feel as if my ideas were wrong and I would secretly try them in my room but smile and nod that I acclimated with the plan when good assessment results came back.

As I take baby steps to put myself out there again with data that backs up my methods I can’t wait to share everything that I have tried whether it has worked or not.  I also hope to gain insight into things that I hope to try which might assist me with planning or warn me against the possible pitfalls within my vision.  I know that there is another nerdy math teacher (or a few thousand) that think of math as a series of beautiful engaging blocks that anyone can learn to love and connect to.

 

Current Professional Learning Networks (I’m hooked…more to come 🙂 ):

Friday Institute

http://mathforum.org/fe/

http://www.nctm.org/

The personal learning network for educators

International Society for Technology in Education

Computer Science for ALL teachers

I have also been professionally developing myself by talking to professional peers and watching some great TED talks.  I am currently more a consumer in the online professional groups that I have joined as I receive the email updates and check the websites periodically.  I am hoping to post more of my ideas as I maintain my ePortfolio and share it out to the communities that I have joined with the hopes of contributing to anyone that can use it to help lead positive change in the world of learning.