Growing As A Mathematics Teacher

1. Reading over your previous six (6) blog entries

a) Which one was your ‘favorite’ entry and why?

My favorite blog post this semester was when I had the opportunity to share and discuss different assessment strategies that can successfully be incorporate into mathematics. Entry #4 – Assessment Strategies provided the opportunity for me to make connections and reflections; How did my high school teacher assess our math classes? Which assessments did I learn about in EMTH350? Which ones were used similarly in my high school experience and which ones would I like to try and implement in my future teaching experiences? This post was based off of a previous class where each of my colleagues and myself researched a type of assessment and presented it within our small groups. I appreciated this assignment as I felt it to be the most hands-on and realistic entry I made as I can look back on it to implement these strategies during my internship and teaching career.

b) Which entry would you most like to ‘do over’ and why?

Entry #5 – Letter To A Friend would probably be the entry that I would like to have the opportunity to do over again. I do not feel that my information is incorrect or unsatisfactory, but I would love to have the opportunity to look deeper into the Annenberg Learner website and go through more of the videos to share with my friend. This particular blog prompt had asked that we watch one specific video and then one of our choice and discuss it in a letter to a friend. If I had the chance to redo this entry I would have gone through more of the high school math videos, watched at least a handful of them then chose from there which ones were most applicable to me, make connections between various videos and gain a better understanding of the different assessment strategies put into practice in the classroom.

c) Which entry did you learn the most about yourself as a learner and becoming a teacher? Explain.

When reviewing my blog posts, I noticed there were a few different entries that allowed me to learn a lot about myself as a learner and becoming a teacher. First, I chose Entry #2 – The Importance of Mathematics Teachers’ Beliefs because it challenged me to truly sit down and decide on five detailed creeds on what I believe mathematics is all about. Not to say I had no idea at all, but it is difficult to place your ideas and beliefs into open statements. Through this particular entry I feel I grew as a future teacher, identifying my beliefs for myself and others to see. The other entries that I learned about myself through were both a) and b) of Entry #6 – Role of Teacher Education as it allowed me to reflect on my experiences in university classes, previous field experiences, and how I felt my Education program is facilitating my growth as a student teacher. In entry a) I shared my initial feelings to the impact the program has on my experiences, how the field experiences aid in my preparation to become a teacher, as well as my mathematical beliefs that I felt would never change. Entry b) then allowed me to make any necessary changes to these feelings after I had a chance to experience them during my pre-intership placement in March/April. Through these three specific blog posts I learned a substantial amount about what I truly believe about the importance of mathematics in general, as well as what I believe is important while teaching this subject.

2. Create a blog entry you would like to have been asked to respond to but were not; after creating the blog entry question, respond to it.

What were difficulties you came across creating your inquiry lessons? Were there any unexpected struggles executing this teaching strategy? Did you have the opportunity to use inquiry lessons (previous or new) during pre-internship?

The most common difficulty I had while creating my inquiry lessons in class was being able to determine how long a task would take, if students would be able to complete it in one period and reach a sensible conclusion, but also how to assess students during this. I find ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ distinctions during inquiry to be redundant as this is an opportunity for experimentation and freedom for students to use their own ideas and approaches. Should assessment simply be how well they answer open-ended questions or if they do indeed reach an ideal outcome? These questions were prominent throughout all lessons that my partner and I created in this class.

One major difficulty I came across implementing inquiry towards our colleagues was that we are on too much of a friendship level, so trying to view them as students and expect them to treat us like their teacher was almost impossible to enforce. They were talking over one another, visiting with other groups, and it was tough for us to take each other seriously as it would normally pan out in a classroom situation. Inquiry is also challenging how to plan, as we are unaware of what questions students will ask. Sometimes we can assume, and try to predict where the activity will lead students and who will come up with what question, but each one of our students learns differently and at different rates so it is hard to accurately execute that preparedness.

Yes, I was able to use my WA 10 – Design a Hockey Rink inquiry lesson with my Grade 10’s at Miller Comp. I had to make some alterations to the lesson, ended up making it a speed skating rink instead, and created more activity pages for them to submit throughout, but the general inquiry outline was the same. I also had the students explore around the class at the beginning of the unit, visiting different stations I had set up and have them measure various objects with different tools. This allowed them to connect what objects represent roughly 6 inches for example. Overall, using inquiry in my pre-internship turned out to be a success.

3. Looking back on the EMTH 350 course this semester, describe two topics (areas of interest) you would like to have focused on more in this course that you feel would help shape your growth and learning in becoming a mathematics teacher.

Throughout this course one topic I wish would have had more emphasis on would be the actual creation of inquiry lessons. During the class times we participated in various examples of inquiry and read about the importance of this teaching approach in our assigned readings, but speaking for myself and I know many of my classmates, we were lost as to how to successfully approach planning one. Is there a process or outline that would be helpful to follow? We tried using a basic, traditional lesson plan, which worked as far as we know, but altering how our minds work while planning a day-to-day lecture towards an inquiry lesson was extremely difficult and I felt as though I lacked some sort of ‘helpful hint’ or guidance as to how to make it easier.

Lastly, a topic that could have been extremely interesting and beneficial to be incorporated would have been Treaty Education. This whole semester the topic of Treaty Ed was preached to us in our many ECS classes, but as everyone knows it is a difficult topic to properly cover through mathematics. Now, since all third year Education students had an orientation seminar for our internship coming up in the fall, it was brought to our attention that there is a Treaty Ed component that our cooperating teacher is observing that we incorporate during our four months. I have little to no experience planning math lessons for Treaty Education, but I have also had zero math education professors provide us with lesson examples, or suggest topics that we could cover that accurately incorporate First Nations and Treaties. I think incorporating and at least touching base with both of these topics would be most beneficial for future students.

4. Looking ahead to internship in the Fall, describe two overarching goals you have (or want to) set for yourself. (If possible, connect these two goals to the learning you have had in this course or in your teacher education program in general.)

My first, most paramount goal I have already set for myself during internship this fall is to get involved with as much as I can outside of the classroom. My cooperating teacher coaches the Jr. Girls Volleyball team which I am hoping to help out in, I have talked to the music teachers who put on a musical every fall and want to help throughout that, just to name a few. I am determined to work with even more extra curricular activities as long as I am able to successfully balance everything. The reason I feel so strongly about doing so is because it allows you to build a much more respected relationship with students outside of their math class. Once we are aware of the hobbies, talents, and skills our students have we can incorporate those into the content we teach to make our lessons more relatable, and even as simple as congratulating them on a win or medal in front of the class will show them that we do care about them outside of the math classroom walls.

My second goal is to make certain that I stay organized. I only fear losing assignments, or having to replay a lesson because I have too many loose papers in my books. This shouldn’t be the case as I am a very organized person, but I belief that if I set a deadline for the students to meet for submitting their assignments, I should be returning that favor and handing them back with necessary feedback and grading promptly. Not only does that avoid frustrating students/parents not knowing how they did on an exam, but it also prevents me from losing any of their work when I collect it all in an organized manner, mark them, then return them punctually as well.

Deep down there are definitely more goals I will set for myself during my upcoming internship experience, but I would definitely say those are my top two and I anticipate the opportunity for me to implement them successfully this fall!

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