A. Grace Martin

Author, Student Teacher, Optimist and Promoter of Self-Empowerment

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Whole-Brain Math Teaching

Posted by agracemartin on January 5, 2015 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

While some educators believe that worksheets do not contribute to authentic student learning, I would argue that they have a place as a tool for classroom instruction when combined with other forms of instruction as well. I think that in a math class, worksheets can help students follow along and practice what they have been taught. To make a student’s learning authentic, however, we need to approach instruction from multiple directions.


The grade six Mathematics teacher associate at my school referred me to the classroom management strategy of whole-brain teaching. I looked this up on Google, Pinterest, and YouTube. I even found a YouTube video of a grade eight classroom using the whole-brain teaching technique for order of operations, which was the best resource that I had for planning my lesson because I noticed how attentive the students were in the video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XroJtR9gQc8 " target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XroJtR9gQc8 ).

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When teaching I used the cue of “class?” and waited for them all to respond in a chorus of “yes?” to show that they were paying attention. I then used subject-specific actions (in this case representing the order of operations) and asked the students to repeat them back to me. Then they turned around and “teach” their actions to a partner by showing what they have learned. I love this approach to instructing math because it keeps students engaged with the content and able to repeat the material several times. Math can be a very analytical subject, and many students can benefit from a holistic approach to it. The whole-brain method combines listening and repeating spoken language, along with viewing and repeating body movements to a student’s learning of quantitative numerical problems.


To introduce students to the order of operations, I opened the lesson by asking them what an operation is. After a student answered correctly, I repeated the definition in different words to ensure that all of the class could hear it. Familiarity with the vocabulary is very important to provide a context for students. Introductory questions such as this assess the language of students’ background knowledge, making it relatable. At the beginning of the lesson I asked students what a product, quotient, sum, and difference were. Since this was the first math class that I taught, it was important to establish that the students understood the language that I was using. If they did not, I would either have to use the terminology that they do, or explain the terminology that I want the students to know.


I used a variety of approaches to get the same message across. To explain that there is an order in which math operations are performed I used the whiteboard, verbal instruction, and whole-brain instruction. First I wrote BEDMAS on the board and asked students to come up with an acronym to remember it. The answers that I received were fun and creative, which engaged the students and made the exercise meaningful through personal connections. I asked students to write BEDMAS on the top of their page because writing something down helps students to mentally process it better. Then I told them what operation each letter stood for and taught them actions to go with them. The students were very engaged with the actions! This kinesthetic activity helped a lot of students stay focused and helped them to remember the order. When I asked the students to teach these actions to a partner they stayed on task. The grade six students in my classroom love interacting with their peers, and this teaching technique played to their interests. I then began to use the worksheet. Fill-in-the-blank notes can be effective to make sure that students are paying attention, but I am glad that I kept them short; otherwise students might have started to zone out. As it was, each class had one or two students who asked three or five minutes later what they were supposed to write in the blanks. I feel that this is to be expected, but the positive learning environment that I established by answering questions openly encouraged these students to at least clarify what they had missed. I am glad that I used so many approaches to convey mnemonics and notes for the order of operations, because the students all remembered seemed to remember these when asked to repeat them to partners.


After this introduction, I moved into the application of BEDMAS using the problems on the worksheet. I did a few examples on the board. For each step I asked the class questions like “do we add first or multiply first?” or “what’s 5 times 4?” and did not continue unless I had a loud response. If only a few voices responded, I repeated the question until all of the class was participating in chorus answers. This keeps the students accountable for participation. My teacher associate pointed out that when I ask those questions, to not stand with my hand raised and ready to write on the white board. Instead, face the classroom so that I can make eye contact and observe if students are nodding, or if they have confused facial expressions. This also helps gain more participants in chorus responses because I can make eye contact with those students who are not speaking.


As I continued working through problems on the board, I realized that I could slow down and make sure that all students are keeping up with and understanding what we have already done. I was unable to get a good feel of how many students understood what was going on, and when talking with the teacher associate, we decided that the following class I should give an assignment to be collected for marks. This assessment would be far more individualized than circulating through the classroom and having students volunteer to solve questions on the board. My teacher associate and I also discussed the future use of individual white boards. Every student could have a small whiteboard, marker, and eraser. I could ask them to write their answers largely on the whiteboard and hold it up for me to see. This would give instant formative assessment of the student performance.


For closure, I referred the class back to their BEDMAS mnemonics and we repeated the order of operations with actions. I realize now that I could have fleshed out my closure. I could have done an exit slip asking students to do a final question on a small piece of paper to be passed in to me for formative assessment. Instead, I will collect assignments from students in the next lesson.

I feel that this lesson was strong in the whole-brain teaching technique for student participation, but that I could have worked on individual help through more circulation. My students told me that they really enjoyed my Math class because it finally made sense to them. I look forward to future lessons so that I can integrate personal whiteboards for timely formative assessment of student learning.


Teach to your students' needs

Posted by agracemartin on January 5, 2015 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Today I am reflecting on my Professional Semester One. I have previously known that teachers need to think “not of their lesson plans so much as the needs of the their students.” It is all about what the students need. However, it was not until a Health lesson hit the students a little too close to the heart that my TA helped me to realize that the needs of the students exceed any great lesson plan.


Growing up I always wondered why guest speakers shared their story. I don’t care what your experience was so much as I care what you can teach me. Give me and show me tools to deal with the hard times. Don’t share your sob story as much as what you learned from your experience. I never cared for teachers who spent time sharing details of their personal lives. It wasted time and cut into instructional opportunities (yes I was a high-achieving kid). I have just re-learned this lesson. Teaching is NOT my floor for counselling to express my problems, give myself a pat on the back, or attempt to control a group of people.


Teaching is about identifying the students’ learning needs and meeting those needs.


I have so much to offer my students. I am very capable and qualified to help them learn. However, I am still a learner who is learning a new skill of teaching. I must be calm and patient with myself during this process, as any teacher must continue to grow.


You can teach for 30 years or you can teach the same year 30 times. Be a teacher who loves professional development!

The Flipped Classroom

Posted by agracemartin on October 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Students not doing their homework?

Maybe the problem is that they need to switch things up! If you have a science student that goes home to BMX all night, then why not give the student enough materials to learn about the mechanics of ramps and bicycles at home, then let him/her come into class and do the homework on it?


I have often thought about using a flipped classroom for a high school physics course. So often physics teachers send home assignments with practice problems of increasing difficulty. By the time students have worked their way to the more complicated questions, they realize that they have no idea how to tackle them any more. 


What I would do is create lecture videos or notes for the students to watch or read at home. When they come to class all we would do is work on practice problems from different approaches and in different styles. This would reduce the amount of time that students need to put toward their homework because they only have to watch a 30 minute video or read a set of notes, versus spending hours banging their heads trying to figure out the problems on their homework assignment and getting nowhere. Do you think that this approach could actually enable physics teachers to assign more homework, because students will understand the approach and complete the assignments faster than they would with the traditional structure of a classroom?


I want to avoid the situation in which my students feel like they don't actually know what is being asked of them. I do not think that we should throw our students into a marathon of questions after they have only just learned how to walk with the formulas. In conclusion, I want to avoid making them feel like this:



Ed 3508 Reflection on Technology in the Class

Posted by agracemartin on October 28, 2014 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

As teachers in the 21st Century it is important to stay updated on the latest technology, but it is also important to ask if  it enhances student learning or the objective of the lesson. 

In our communications technology class, Education 3508, we covered the following topics:


- Blogging and technology integration

During this module we covered the ICT Program of Studies, which is the curriculum that goes beyond just computers class, and the Alberta Technology Policy Framework. 

- The three C's: create, communicate and collaborate

Techonology in the classroom is not just about using it and viewing it. Classroom technology is a tool for the creation of media, which can enhance communication and enable students to connect with other people using the internet. 

- Google drive and Google presentations

Since Google drive can create files that can be accessed, viewed, and edited by multiple parties, this application is a great collaborative tool to make student groupwork easy and tangible.

- Remind

Our instructor used the Remind application to send out memos to students.

- Social media to create

In my technology class I learned the importance of using social media as a teacher. I can stay involved with the technological apps that students are currently using, and I can also use social media to connect and collaborate with other educators.

-Inspiration and mindmeister

While I prefer to do concept mapping with a pen and paper, online concept mapping software can be accessed by multiple parties in different locations. You can make the concept map interactive and embed links within it to make it a great learner resource.

-Online presentation tools

My class has done a lot of uploading videos to YouTube to share our ideas on subjects as well as teach those concepts to one another in a frienldy format. We have authored professional teacher portfolio webpages (such as my "Teaching" tab on this website) to communicate and present information online.

- Web Awareness and Digital Citizenship

We went over the importance of personal safety, privacy, and leaving a professional digital footprint. As educators, we need to pass this information on to our students so that they do not get into trouble from inappropriate activity on the internet.

- Effective searches, social bookmarking, and citing Information

These are all tools that every student should have in his or her toolbox, as researching topics on the internet can take them to places that they just simply should not go. However, when students find good resources, they should bookmark it in a way that works for them (such as pinning it to a board on Pinterest) and then cite their resource properly to avoid copyright infringment.

- Interactive White Boards

We developed lessons using the Notebook software for SMARTboards to bring more excitement to the classroom and to enhance student learning by relating interactive activities to the lesson objectives.

- Video and Web conferencing

There are so many more content providers than I was aware of! I love using the internet as a resource for information, but having a life interaction is even better. Not every class can take a field trip to the space station, the Great Barrier Reef, or even Alberta's own Royal Tyrrell Museum. But you can take a virtual field trip there instantly and for a fraction of the cost!

- The Flipped Classroom

Our last module in this class was a "flipped" class in which we read up on material at home and then arrived at school ready to do the assignment. We did not technically go to school, because we had a field trip destination that day, but it was certainly effective and a lot of fun!


Ed 2500 April 9, 2014

Posted by agracemartin on October 24, 2014 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Today I had a great experience with a substitute teacher with a math background. The previous day he had done extra probability work with the kids and taught them the gambler’s fallacy, which tied in to the experimental math lesson that I taught today. My lesson went well but would have been better if I had given each student their own bag full of tiles to draw from, so that every student could do the experiment on their own. Next time I would need better organization and preparation to arrive with ziplock baggies and coloured or numbered pieces of paper as extra tiles. This would make the activity more personal and engaging. I could also get into the habit of watching the clock while I teach. I still find it difficult to judge how long a lesson will take when I look over my lesson plan sheet. I hope that this will become easier with practice.


However, I know that every group of students is different, and each classroom will respond differently to each lesson. Sometimes it depends on the day and the kids’ mood whether they are rambunctious or calm, and interested in the subject or not. Sometimes the kids will want to discuss something or share their own stories on the topic. Other times they will take longer than anticipated completing an activity or an assignment. When this happens a teacher must be flexible and adapt to the changing environment. Teachers must be ready to trim down their lesson if time is running low, and must have additional materials prepared if some students finish early.


As I write this final journal entry, I have realized that my thinking process has changed. I feel that I understand how to become a better teacher and how to deal with challenges. Through Ed 2500 I have become familiar with the obstacles that all teachers face on a daily basis. Time management, classroom management, and other skills will continue to improve through practice and experience. I know that I will never be perfect. No one is perfect, though everyone is perfect just the way that he or she is if they continue striving for growth. As a teacher, I am not a nurse or a doctor who can diagnose and assess an injury on the playground, nor am I a counsellor or a psychologist who can identify and treat a behavioural disorder. I will have to continue communicating with other professionals and would do well from bouncing ideas off of other teachers. I look forward to continuing this journey and furthering my professional development as a teacher.

Ed 2500 April 7, 2014

Posted by agracemartin on October 24, 2014 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Today I taught my Health lesson, which went very well. I was able to keep the students’ attention the entire time and gave them clear instructions. I modified the first activity so that less writing was required. It was difficult for some students to come up with things that they do not like about themselves. I think that could be a good sign because it means that those students already have a positive self-image and must come from strong families or caring home lives. However, it may also be a lack of awareness and that those kids do not recognize when they are being put down. In either case, I think that it was a good idea to combine my “What’s wrong with you” with the “What could you improve/what do you want to change” category. I was thankful when my TA offered another explanation for this with a simple example of “I wish my hair were straighter.” I need to remind myself that younger people need smaller concepts.

In this lesson I incorporated a written self-reflection activity, a video clip, talking about famous failures and inspirational people, then an activity to share positive things with their classmates. I am looking forward to giving back the filled-in lists of great traits that each student has. I hope that my lesson reminded the kids to believe in themselves and never give up on their dreams (even if bullies or other people put them down).


What pleasantly surprised me about the final writing activity was that several students also added the names of my Teacher Associate and myself. I appreciate that the students are so thoughtful and inclusive. One comment in particular made me smile. It read, “Mrs. Martin: she helps solve questions.” I find it endearing to be described so simply, because I understand that message to be a grade five student’s way of saying thank you for your help.

I was proud of these students for their descriptions of their classmates, too, because they did not write just one thing for each person, but multiple. Reading through the lists made me feel satisfied that the students had understood my positive self-image lesson. 

April 2, 2014

Posted by agracemartin on October 24, 2014 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Who do I want to be as a teacher? I feel that I have the inherent talent to instruct youth, but what can I do or learn that would better help student learning?

I think that well-planned hands-on activities are very valuable. To introduce probability and statistics, my TA got the students to play a game of chance called “SKUNK” that gave points based upon a rolled dice, with a role of “one” resulting in a take away of all points given. Games in math, or blocks, or other materials, can facilitate learning. I want to create a supportive environment that allows for self-exploration.

However, I am not yet sure how I would do this in a high school physics classroom. Demonstrations can be useful, such as spinning in an office chair to show centripetal acceleration. Visuals such as posters showing examples of different energy types (a roller coaster showing potential and kinetic energy) can be hung around the classroom to set an inquisitive environment. Many of the concepts in physics are difficult to model, such as gravitational attraction between two objects of similar mass, but can be related to a similar, more familiar physical law such as gravity on Earth. Videos from YouTube could be helpful and would incorporate technology into the classroom, better engaging the students. I think that establishing a routine could be just as useful for high school students as it is for the grade fives. Structure and clear expectations create a safe learning environment for students of any age.

Today I asked to read aloud to the grade fives. It was good for me because I noticed that after a while my voice felt dry and started cracking. I realized that I have not read a long passage aloud for many years, and that I am out of practice. I think that with more practice and experience I will become a good teacher. I know that I will always need to learn more and refine my skills, but I am up for that challenge.

Part of being a good teacher is making material interesting to the students. To do this, I must remember to dwell in the learners’ place with them and not judge them.

March 31, 2014

Posted by agracemartin on October 24, 2014 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Today I gave a presentation to the grade fives on wolves. A lot of it went well. The kids were very interested in our food web activity, because every student had a representative animal and got to participate. I know that there were things that I forgot to share, but because we talked about so many things, the kids were probably swamped with information. I noticed that at the end of my presentation did the kids with the topic of wolves and ready to move on. They stopped putting up their hands and only one student answered when I wanted to review, asking what they had learned during the lesson. My TA explained that kids aged 10 can only sit and listen for approximately ten minutes, and after that they need something to keep them engaged.

I think that my wolf lesson was a success because I incorporated different elements and activities. If I were to teach this lesson again, I would give a fun activity sheet like a word search with science-related terms like ecosystem, predator, food web, food chain, carnivore, etc. The kids were excited during the food chain activity, and there was some quiet chatter, but I think that I kept their attention well by simply asking, “Is everyone listening?” I also had enough time to let the kids ask questions and share any stories that they had. One thing that I could work on in calling on students to answer questions more fairly. The same several students put up their hands immediately and very high, which catches my eye so I called upon the same kids frequently.

Today I was reminded of the importance of maintaining non-judgemental relationships. I’ve noticed that I am quicker to call out boys who are misbehaving than the girls who are usually quiet. Today a great student had not finished an assignment. My bias that this student was always the quickest to finish was not correct. I need to remember that part of being a fair teacher includes never assuming anything. I will not judge if one student is “better” than another, because they are all equal, just different.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found a picture on my desk today that was from one of the most well behaved students. I seldom talk to this individual, mostly because she never needs extra help. I was very touched because this A+ student has previously seemed indifferent toward me. She would only ask questions of my TA, even if she was busy and I was available. What I have learned from this experience is that consistency and friendliness are invaluable to developing relationships. Some students will take longer to warm up to you, even if they already respect you and are willing to take direction from you.

Ed 2500 March 26, 2014

Posted by agracemartin on October 24, 2014 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Today I am thinking about student-teacher relationships and respect. Coming into Ed 2500 I thought to myself that I would have one rule in my high school class: “BE RESPECTFUL.” On the first day of school, I would tell my physics class that they are responsible young adults and that I expect them to act like it. I think that I could tell my class that if they choose to act like small children, then I will treat them like kids. I will always respect them and never demean them, but if they are immature, any privileges will be revoked.

I think that teenagers want to be acknowledged as young adults because they hate being treated like little kids. If I tell them that they have and opportunity to act like a mature adult, I think that most will respond well to this.


I do not think that you can only have one rule for lower grades. I think that all of the rules can be stated under the theme of respect, but that rules must be clearly outlined for younger students. For example, “respect others by not running in the hallways to avoid injuries and disrupting other classes with excess noise.” I think that it is a little more difficult to teach young children how to be respectful and mature role models for their school because they have more energy and shorter attention spans. However, I think that good behaviour is more difficult to ENFORCE for teenagers because of their apathetic attitudes. I hope to overcome this by establishing good relationships with all of my students.

Today in math class I ran a math review session for a small group of students who felt that they needed help with division. I found it difficult to work with all three because they all wrote at different paces. When I am in charge of an entire class, I would hope that those students who work faster would work ahead in the textbook. I believe that it is best to teach slowly and go through problems step-by-step both verbally and in writing on the board. It is best for the above average students to work ahead than for the below average students to be left behind. The key is giving extra work or an activity that quicker students can complete so that they will not be bored.

Today was also Speaker’s Club. I was impressed by some students and disappointed by the presentations of others. The students have an entire month to prepare their speeches and clearly know the expectations. Others are exceptional and are not only great speakers but also are well-prepared hard-workers. I think that it is a great idea to get grade fives to practice speaking in front of a crowd on a monthly basis. Public speaking takes kids out of their comfort zone but it is a valuable life skill.

Ed 2500 March 24, 2014

Posted by agracemartin on October 24, 2014 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I learned something interesting about bullying today. My Teacher Associate said that every year two police officers come into the school to talk about bullying. Oddly, on that particular day, bullying at the school is far more common than it usually is. I wonder if it is because an anti-bullying talk draws more attention to it, or if maybe the reverse psychological reaction of kids makes them want to act out whenever they are told not to.

How do you think students in your school would react to a resource officer telling students not to bully? Would your answer change if the resource officer were a regular presence in the school?


This makes me wonder how to teach an anti-bullying Health class lesson that is effective for kids. Today the school counsellor gave a lesson that touched on stress, and how the body reacts to different stressors (such as bullying confrontation or playing a sport) in the same way. I do not think that the kids understood the connection between chronic bad stress and their health, because it was not clearly stated. However, the lesson on everyday heroes, which included writing down how an adult role model in your life helps you, seemed far more personal and touching. Effective role-play that actually evokes and emotional response is very powerful. I would like to make lessons that play on this emotional response to teach self-worth. I need to remember what it is like to be a student in grade 5 if I wish to make my teaching strike a chord with the class.

Ed 2500 March 19, 2014

Posted by agracemartin on October 24, 2014 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Today I was so proud of a student who is usually talkative, but asked others to be quiet during the assembly. I said after the assembly to that student that I was very proud of him and that he was showing how to become a leader. The student smiled and responded well to this positive reinforcement.

Computers class was the most successful that I have ever seen. We told the kids that they were not allowed to get up, that they could use headphones, and that they could either work on typing or an educational powerful bones games. I was so imporessed that they were quiet and focussed. I think that using technology to teach is a great idea with this tech-savy generation of kids. Video games can be educational and are extremely fun and engaging for today’s youth. To dwell in the learner’s place with them, teachers should engage kids with what they find interesting. I think that the computers class also went well because the students were competing for a high score on their game. Friendly competition can be a good motivator for a lot of students.

In the next class I worked well with some students who were behind on their novel study, and then in math class I circulated and helped individuals with their long division. One student in particular was having a difficult time, so I took her to the back table and asked what she was having difficulties with. She was almost in tears. Slowly, step by step, we went through multiplication and division opposites, such as 7x5=35, 35/5=7, and 35/7=5. Then we went into long division at the fifth grade level. Patience was key for working with this student, and I think that this step-by-step process is a good tutoring strategy for most kids if the teacher has time to spend with them.

Ed 3508 Exit Slip on Video Conferencing

Posted by agracemartin on October 22, 2014 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Today we video conferenced with the Royal Tyrrell Museum. I was so surprised by how interesting it was! Did you know that there is a huge variety of content providers, available through the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration at http://cilc.org ? So cool! You can connect your classroom with a live scuba diver off the Great Barrier Reef! 

Video conferencing seems like a fantastic way to get your students engaged with content and break up the routine of instruction. Technology can provide some amazing learning opportunities, why not embrace them?

Enough "Anti-Bullying!" We Need "Self-Esteem!"

Posted by agracemartin on October 15, 2014 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Before you get angry that I disagree with anti-bullying, read on.

I believe that students have been bombarded with the anti-bullying movement to the extend that they are now numb to the word "bullying." 

What we need now is not another message of "it's wrong to bully." What we need now is a message of empowerment. 

Educational Psychology tells that that instead of punishing a student's undesirable behaviour, teachers find more success when they focus on what is right. Instead of scolding a student, Sally, who gets out of her desk, instead turn to Sam and say, "Thank you so much for sitting quietly in your seat, Sam, that's very thoughtful of you and really helps me out." Research tells us that by giving attention to students who get out of their desk will actually cause more students to get out of their desks. When teachers focus on the desired behaviour, kids respond very well.

Now let's apply this same psychology to bullying. Focussing on how aweful bullying is can draw more attention than necessary to it. Sometimes kids get new ideas of how to bully after they have been given an anti-bullying talk. I think that this approach cultivates more bullying. So let's make a shift in our thinking.

Instead of telling a child "you're wrong!" praise what they are doing right, and that positive reinforcement will encourage the desired behaviour.

How?

Simple!

Teach children confidence and self-esteem. Bullies only pick on other children because they are insecure or upset in some way.


Mind Mapping

Posted by agracemartin on October 15, 2014 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm very happy that I used this application, mindmeister, to construct a concept web. The main resource that I used was The Cyberwise Guide to Digital Citizanship Video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCkTmZ0bF5Q). It was difficult for me to separate digital citizenship from ethical issues, because I find that they are very closely related. However, the above mind map helped me to organize my ideas under the different categories.

Here's the link to my MindMap: 

Embedded into my webpage: agracemartin.com/technology-integration

On mindmeister.com Mrs Martin's Mind Map


Ed 2500 March 17, 2014

Posted by agracemartin on October 10, 2014 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I forgot to wear green for St. Patrick’s day today. I realized that in recent years I have largely forgotten about the events that are so important to children. A teacher needs to be aware of PJ day, pink shirt day, and current events such as the gold medal count during the Olympics. I generally do not watch the news because I do not care for the biased focuses of media and list of one calamity after the next. Since my husband tells me about all of the important headlines, I have removed myself from the news. However, as a teacher I need to be more aware of situations than my students so that I can answer their questions. This is especially true if I teach a Social Studies class.

Through my Ed 2500 practicum, I am becoming more aware of the many factors that influence individual students, and time management in the classroom.

I want to develop the shrewd observation to validly assess a student’s understanding. Do children act out so that the other kids won’t discover that they don’t understand the schoolwork? Are they not getting enough attention at home? Are they having social problems with friends or bullies? All of these are important questions to keep in mind when observing a child’s behaviour.

Today I worked one-on-one with a student to help her catch up. She said that school is not going well but she cannot tell her parents or else they will take cheerleading away from her. As we worked, I told her that there were things that she could do to understand better. I pointed out that she was playing with her hair, not following along in the book, not paying attention, and not thinking about what was going on in the book. I told her that I knew she could read well, and she looked surprised. It was almost a look of guilt mixed with surprise, as if I had called her out on a lie and she could no longer pretend that she was hopeless (to ask for pity). So I tried to empower her and mentioned that there are steps that each of us can take to try harder in school. She could focus on the book, and use her finger to follow along if it felt difficult for her to pay attention. She could take charge and be aware of what homework she has done and what she still has left to do.

I asked my Teacher Associate what else I could do. She said that positive reinforcement and “chunking” could be beneficial strategies. I learned that chunking involves talking about only one task at a time. When working with this student I could read and discuss one page at a time, then focus on writing 2-3 sentences, then come up with “word wall” vocabulary words. This is a good strategy for me to remember for younger students and for stressed-out students.

Knowing how to react and treat individual learning needs is something that comes from consistent observation and also from experience. I want to help, but not overwhelm students. I want to give effective help, but in order to do that, I first need to develop relationships, get to know the needs of each student, think about why they act like they do, and then try as many different approaches as possible.


Ed 3508 Exit Slip on MindMaps and Presentations

Posted by agracemartin on October 8, 2014 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (2)

Today during our interactive white board activities I was reminded of some crucial ideas for lessons. You need to have an interesting hook, cue students for what is about to happen, maintain interest, utilize formative assessment, and have a good closure. I learned a new way to provide feedback to another person by replacing “but” with “and.” For example, “you explained that well, but you didn’t have any examples,” is a fairly harsh form of feedback compared to “I like how you explained that concept and I would have also included some examples of it.” If I have ever given harsh feedback because I did not carefully monitor my words: I apologize. Now that I have been made aware of the “and” strategy I have one more tool in my toolbox of being a caring and effective teacher.


In class we also learned how to use an online concept mapping tool called Mindmeister. I look forward to exploring this software because it is so easily manipulated. However, I am not convinced that I would use it over another graphic organizer that could be created on Microsoft Word. I’m all for learning an easier way to do something, but at the same time I am sceptical of the use of its importance.

Ed 3508 Lesson Plan Internet Search

Posted by agracemartin on October 1, 2014 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Title of Activity: Together we stand, divided we fall


Reference: Project Webfoot, Ducks Unlimited Canada. (2012). Wetland Ecosystems: habitats, communities and the diversity of life. Retrieved Oct 1, 2014, from http://www.ducks.ca/assets/2012/06/Grade4-6teacher.pdf


Grade Level: 5

Subject: Science

Brief Description of Activity: This lessons builds on a previous one in which students generated a T-chart of living and non-living things in a wetland ecosystem. Students are given a text to read and are asked to identify any interactions. Students are provided with sheets with hexagonal discs. They label components inside a hexagon, and write in other components that interact with it inside adjacent hexagons. Finally students write a sentence to explain each relationship. If I were to do this lesson, I would begin with a visual component using the SmartBoard. I would ask students to type a living or nonliving thing’s name into a hexagonal shape and then invite them to move the shape next to another one that it interacts with.


General Learner Outcome: Describe the living and nonliving components of a wetland ecosystem and the interactions within and among them.

Specific Learner Outcomes: Understand that a wetland ecosystem involves interactions between living and nonliving things, both in and around the water.

ICT Outcomes:

C1 Students will access, use and communicate information from a variety of technologies

C.1.1.2 process information from more than one source to retell what has been discovered

C.1.3.5 analyze and synthesize information to create a product

C4 Students will use organizational processes and tools to manage inquiry

C.4.3.2 develop a process to manage volumes of information that can be made available through electronic sources

C5 Students will use technology to aid collaboration during inquiry

C.5.2.2. record group brainstorming, planning and sharing of ideas by using technology

C.5.4.2 participate in a variety of electronic group formats


Rationale for Technology Integration: Students can work at their own pace on their assignment sheets as well as collaborate with the classroom when arranging interactions on the SmartBoard. These shapes can be easily moved around as the students record more and more interactions. The technology provides a visual and keeps students focussed on the task of arranging living and nonliving components that interact.


Search Strategies Employed:

Use nouns as keywords

Checking the online tutorials of the search engine

Refined key words, “Less is more”

Spell carefully

Avoid redundant terms

Be persistent

Ed 3508 Exit Slip

Posted by agracemartin on October 1, 2014 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Today we watched the first group of interactive whiteboard lessons. We asked the questions: was the lesson effective, did the technology enhance the learning/teaching, and did the use of interactive-white-board activity help achieve goal of the lesson? A very good point that came up was whether or not the activity actually met a specific learning outcome. I will keep this in mind for my presentation.


Then we began learning about internet searches. I was reminded that a Google search will be different for everyone if they are using their personal devices due to tracking. I think that it will be easier to guide student searches on a school computer, also keeping in mind that school firewalls and parental settings help to avoid unwanted content. When teachers are about to let students do research, teachers can scoop several web pages as suggestions. This direction avoids students getting sidetracked. 


To complete this week’s assignment I first went to the Alberta Education Program of Studies website for Elementary Science, Topic E: Wetland Ecosystems.  The general learning outcome for this unit highlights interactions and descriptions of living and nonliving things. I then chose a specific learning outcome that emphasizes “interactions between living and nonliving things, both in and around the water.” I Googled “Alberta grade 5 science lessons.” The first result to come up for was the Alberta Education Program of Study that I had just opened, and the second result was a resource for parets from Learn Alberta. I looked up Google’s search Tips and Tricks and used it as a guide for my next search. I decided that my keyword choice had not been effective and remembered the strategy that “less is more” and that persistence is important. Instead I Googled the keywords “wetland ecosystem lessons.” The first result was a pdf from Ducks Unlimited Canada for grades 4 to 6 science. On the 8th sheet, or page 3, I found the exact type of lesson that I was looking for, perfectly aligned with my chosen SLO! My refined search was absolutely beneficial. 

Ed 3508 Exit Slip on Notebook Software

Posted by agracemartin on September 30, 2014 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (2)

Today we learned all about the SmartBoard Notebook software. I enjoyed learning this program and found it very easy to navigate. I kept thinking about how wonderful it is to have tools like this in the classroom. I could see myself recording every class not only for students but also to help my reflections on the success of my lesson. I do foresee a problem of glitches interfering with the smoothness of activities, but I think that with the right attitude and knowledge of how a SmartBoard works, I could handle these problems. First and foremost I will ask myself: "Is everything plugged in and turned on?" There's [almost] nothing worse than calling for tech support to realize that you did not plug something in, and I would like to avoid any future embarrassment in front of my class.


Ed 2500 March 12, 2014

Posted by agracemartin on September 24, 2014 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Today I put together a bulletin board display that took a ridiculously long time. First I selected one piece of art from each student. Then I had to arrange them so that all of the artwork would fit. I messed up by including Christmas art that parents had already seen, so I had to re-select pieces. The task was so simple and yet so annoyingly time-consuming that next time I would do well to listen to an audiobook while working. Teachers need to do a lot of fiddly and time-consuming jobs, so it is important to be organized, work efficiently, and manage your schedule well. I also thought today that in the summer, preparing a classroom for the coming year must be a lot of work and involve a lot of planning. Something a simple as buying and labelling bins for duo-tangs could take time and organizational skills. On top of that, the first month of school must require a lot of patience as the teacher outlines and begins to reinforce the classroom rules. I think that practice and consistency are extremely important during this process. I feel that I am beginning to really grasp the realities of a teacher’s working life, but I do not feel intimidated by it. I am looking forward to the fact that teachers are always learners too. Fulfilling my professional development will be very enjoyable. I am always open to learning new things and expanding my horizons, because I believe that people have potential in many fields.


I think that I will only volunteer for committees that I am interested in and enjoy, or else extra work will become tedious. I will have to be careful not to agree to too many additional responsibilities, because I need to avoid burnout. Since I already volunteer to judge science fairs, I could see being on a fair committee for my school, or even at the regional level. An anti-bullying committee would also interest me, or an after school exercise or leadership club.


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