Today was our first day of the QTEL Summer Institute.

As you reflect on the questions below, keep in mind the range of experiences we engaged in today.

We began with coffee and pastries, followed by an overview led by Ralph of the week's activities. The focus Ralph discussed what the Ron Tzur would lead 9 sessions, and each session would be framed as an Inquiry Into My Practice (IIMP). His sessions/IIMPs would be 'book-ended' with Pre-Brief discussion with a ThinkingPartner, followed by his session/IIMP and then concluded with a DeBrief conversation with a ThinkingPartner.

Participants then took the MKT Survey. Ron then began his Session #1 at 10:45 with Ralph as Ron's ThinkingPartner. The session focused on observing two children and their mathematical reasoning.

After Ron's session, Ralph guided the 3x2 Debrief where participants listed 3 items they recall from Ron's IIMP, then listened in on as Ralph and Ron debriefed. This was followed by a final set of 3 more observations, and concluded with participants applying Ron's IIMP to their own practice, by exploring, envisioning and enacting the big ideas of Ron's IIMP to their own professional practice.

We had lunch, and after lunch Debra led a session on WIDA standards with Kim Song as her ThinkingPartner.

As you look back at your first day:

1. What do the activities we engaged in suggest about what is important in the math and ELL-focused work we do?

2. What aspect of your own practice in math, and with ELL's, do you wish to pursue when developing your own IIMP, which you will teach in the fall?

NOTE: Please respond to at least 2 colleagues' postings.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Miriah,

Ron's point about our only being able to teach math up to what we know struck me this morning too.  I am not a strong math person.  In fact, the survey test we took gave me real insight to how my struggling math students must feel.  I think you made a very good point though when you said that we have to keep challenging ourselves too.  I think it's good for us as teachers to struggle sometimes.  It helps us be empathetic to our students who are having difficulty as well as reinforces to us that learning is a life-long process.
 
Miriah Bruns said:

1. What do the activities we engaged in suggest about what is important in the math and ELL-focused work we do?

I found it interesting when Ron talked about don't just assume the class understands, or the student understands if they answer one question correctly. Even though they answered correctly they still could not have a real concept of numbers, and we need to be mindful of that, it is important to understand the differences between counting on and counting all. Like we discussed we can only teach math up to what we know, so we need to constantly be challenging ourselves as well.

In Debra's session it was clear that it was important to know the differences between scaffolding and support, and that we should try and break them of having supports and scaffold as much as we can. If they constantly rely on supports then they will never be able to do anything alone.

2. What aspect of your own practice in math, and with ELL's, do you wish to pursue when developing your own IIMP, which you will teach in the fall?

I want to understand what my students know, as far as concept of numbers or not, so we can progress from there and also on my part the best ways to get them to understanding the concept of numbers. . Also, knowing what scaffolding's I should put in place to help my students.

1.  The activities we engaged in brought to light that 1) not all students have concept of number 2) students must have concept of number in order to be successful in math and 3) we can identify who does/does not have concept of number through astute observations.  Without recognizing the importance of these items, we cannot effectively reach all students in math instruction.

2. When developing my own IIMP, I hope to use a through pre-assessment that will effectively display not only what the students know, but also the train of thought behind what they know.  As shown in the MKT survey, multiple students can often arrive at the same right (or wrong) answer, but may use different strategies to arrive at an answer.  Recognizing the strategies they use, as well as the misconceptions behind the strategies, will help me better plan for instruction.

Hi, Maggie.

I think you touched on what I am hoping to gain, too: to instill a better number sense in our students.  I'm really curious about the process of doing this, and wonder if there is an ideal window to do so (like with language acquisition) though which students are more likely to be successful.

Margaret Fairless said:

1. What do the activities we engaged in suggest about what is important in the math and ELL-focused work we do?

I think the activities we engaged in highlight the importance of understanding the math we are teaching. Basically, if we don't understand the math that we are teaching we will not be able to effectively teach math (to any student, not specifically ELLs). That being said, I think lack of teacher knowledge in the math content area, coupled with an ELLs disadvantage in terms of language combine to make the subject much harder, and perhaps impossible to fully understand for most kids. Therefore, it is important for educators to use the resources, tools, and knowledge available to us to 1) ensure we understand what we teach 2) determine what level/knowledge our students have. Better teachers and teaching practices should equate to better outcomes from students.

2. What aspect of your own practice in math, and with ELL's, do you wish to pursue when developing your own IIMP, which you will teach in the fall?

It's hard for me to fully answer this question because I am not a classroom teacher. That being said, I was really intrigued about kids needing to have a solid number sense in order to understand/do math. It amazes me that students in older grades might not have this. Therefore, I think I will ensure that early on in the school year I gauge where my students are (in terms of number sense). By attaining this knowledge early on, I will 1) begin to gain deeper insight into my students and their struggles/success 2) find a starting point for instruction. So, I'd like to gain deeper knowledge on how to determine where students are in terms of number sense, and then how to instill a number sense in my students while still meeting curriculum guidelines.

Hi, Lisa.

I agree with your thoughts on the math survey and appreciate your honesty!  I know I am not a strong math person either, so knowing my students will limited be limited by what I know motivates me to be better and strive for a better understanding of math.  I recall that even during the spring institute, when we discussed certain topics, it was like a light bulb went on and I thought "If only my ___ grade teacher explained it that way!" because it suddenly made sense.  What is particularly sad to me is that students can "fake" their way through quite a bit of math without actually understanding it (I know I did), but I want to know if they don't get it.  

Lisa Hogbin said:

Hi Miriah,

Ron's point about our only being able to teach math up to what we know struck me this morning too.  I am not a strong math person.  In fact, the survey test we took gave me real insight to how my struggling math students must feel.  I think you made a very good point though when you said that we have to keep challenging ourselves too.  I think it's good for us as teachers to struggle sometimes.  It helps us be empathetic to our students who are having difficulty as well as reinforces to us that learning is a life-long process.
 
Miriah Bruns said:

1. What do the activities we engaged in suggest about what is important in the math and ELL-focused work we do?

I found it interesting when Ron talked about don't just assume the class understands, or the student understands if they answer one question correctly. Even though they answered correctly they still could not have a real concept of numbers, and we need to be mindful of that, it is important to understand the differences between counting on and counting all. Like we discussed we can only teach math up to what we know, so we need to constantly be challenging ourselves as well.

In Debra's session it was clear that it was important to know the differences between scaffolding and support, and that we should try and break them of having supports and scaffold as much as we can. If they constantly rely on supports then they will never be able to do anything alone.

2. What aspect of your own practice in math, and with ELL's, do you wish to pursue when developing your own IIMP, which you will teach in the fall?

I want to understand what my students know, as far as concept of numbers or not, so we can progress from there and also on my part the best ways to get them to understanding the concept of numbers. . Also, knowing what scaffolding's I should put in place to help my students.

1. What do the activities we engaged in suggest about what is important in the math and ELL-focused work we do?

The important things to focus on in terms of both math and ELL focused work was in targeting our student’s struggles with appropriate resources, planning, etc. By appropriate I mean actually necessary, actually meant to get across the idea we are trying to impart, and meaningful to the student his/her self.  The second big idea I noticed is to make sure we are absolutely clear on objects, terminology etc .because that can make a big difference in our own understanding of what is going on (our misunderstandings do not help the child as Ron says the limit of our knowledge is the limit our children will learn too).

2. What aspect of your own practice in math, and with ELL's, do you wish to pursue when developing your own IIMP, which you will teach in the fall?

I think I would like to focus on knowledge of numbers (how to test my children at begging of year, interventions ways I can help them learn, etc.). As a pre-service teacher I find this interesting because it is something practical I can learn and store away for later (one thing that won’t be mostly theory when I begin my practice). 

Mary I agree with you about the need to understand what is going on in the child's mind (weather or not they are "getting the right answer"). This helps us to better understand what our children actually understand and don't but also allows us to notice children whose lacks may be hidden by somewhat or even generally effective coping strategies they have learned to compensate. 

Mary Shive said:

1.  The activities we engaged in brought to light that 1) not all students have concept of number 2) students must have concept of number in order to be successful in math and 3) we can identify who does/does not have concept of number through astute observations.  Without recognizing the importance of these items, we cannot effectively reach all students in math instruction.

2. When developing my own IIMP, I hope to use a through pre-assessment that will effectively display not only what the students know, but also the train of thought behind what they know.  As shown in the MKT survey, multiple students can often arrive at the same right (or wrong) answer, but may use different strategies to arrive at an answer.  Recognizing the strategies they use, as well as the misconceptions behind the strategies, will help me better plan for instruction.

Donna I'm with you it was a surprise to me too today that our children cannot be said to actually have a complete numbers sense. I think that if i had watched the videos etc on my own I would not have known that, i would have focused on "weaknesses and strengths" and how to address them pragmatically (which in the case of child who actually doesn't have number sense is not only unhelpful but may lead to further discouragement as both they and we struggle to understand why it is so hard for them). 


Donna Butler said:

I think the activities we engaged in stress the importance of first determining where our students are and then providing those supports needed to assist students in their acquisition of second language.

Number sense. I think we expect that if our students can count and recognize numbers, that everything else is automatic. I never thought that students didn't have the concept of what a number is. That fact alone was a big moment for me today, especially when I think back about the students that I've had in the past that struggled so much with math. I'm looking forward to getting strategies and tools to use with my students to make sure they have a solid foundation so we can move on from there.

1. What do the activities we engaged in suggest about what is important in the math and ELL-focused work we do?

In math, it is especially important to determine where each student is in terms of their knowledge and abilities. Once we have this information, we're able to differentiate and better meet each students' needs. This will allow us to scaffold new knowledge for students. Additionally, it will help us determine what supports a student may need for a given task.

 

2. What aspect of your own practice in math, and with ELL's, do you wish to pursue when developing your own IIMP, which you will teach in the fall?

First, I believe it is critically important to assess my own depth of knowledge relative to the math content I will be teaching. As stated a few times in seminar today, our knowledge limits directly affect what our students can learn from us. It is important that I fully understand every aspect of what I'm teaching so I can address it for each of my students in a way that suits their learning styles.

Also, I wish to further explore the types of supports that may be most helpful with different concepts and lessons. Making appropriate supports available to ELLs, and all students for that matter, will make a huge impact on the understanding students walk away with.

Lisa,

I agree that math vocabulary is a sorely needed skill. My soon to be 4th grader focus student was very capable of doing multiplication and division of single and double digit numbers but when it came to using the word "pairs" as a divisor he had no idea that that required him to divide by 2. As we also learned math vocab. is not universal across even for mathematical processes, counting on, up, etc. We need to remember that the math language has its own dialects and regional terms.

Lisa Hogbin said:

1.  Today's activities stressed how vital it is that we take the time to observe and identify the math knowledge each of our students brings with them to our classroom.  First and foremost, we need to know if they have the concept of number.  This is the foundation for all math they will learn.   When we know our students individually as math learners, we can provide the scaffolding and supports that they will need to be successful  in their math skills and grow as learners.  We can't just assume every student in our room "gets it".   Our job is to differentiate our math instruction to meet the needs of all our students, especially our ELL learners.

2.  I would like to really focus on helping my students with the language of math.  I work with kindergarten, first and second grade ELL learners.  So often it is the vocabulary we use with the math skill that confuses them, not the actual skill itself.  I think this can be true for many other students as well.  Again, I can't just assume they understand what "equals" or "addition" means.  I want to develop those supports that will make the language of math meaningful for my students.

Amy,

Teachers giving themselves formative assessments is likely a very smart practice. Self assessed personal depths of knowledge give us an opportunity to determine what subjects and concepts need to brush up on. There is always more information in which to build better teaching techniques but also the correct concept terminology. If the students go through assessment in some form on a regular basis we owe them to take the time to make sure we are giving them the best and correct information.

Amy Metz Cimicata said:

1. What do the activities we engaged in suggest about what is important in the math and ELL-focused work we do?

In math, it is especially important to determine where each student is in terms of their knowledge and abilities. Once we have this information, we're able to differentiate and better meet each students' needs. This will allow us to scaffold new knowledge for students. Additionally, it will help us determine what supports a student may need for a given task.

 

2. What aspect of your own practice in math, and with ELL's, do you wish to pursue when developing your own IIMP, which you will teach in the fall?

First, I believe it is critically important to assess my own depth of knowledge relative to the math content I will be teaching. As stated a few times in seminar today, our knowledge limits directly affect what our students can learn from us. It is important that I fully understand every aspect of what I'm teaching so I can address it for each of my students in a way that suits their learning styles.

Also, I wish to further explore the types of supports that may be most helpful with different concepts and lessons. Making appropriate supports available to ELLs, and all students for that matter, will make a huge impact on the understanding students walk away with.

1. What do the activities we engaged in suggest about what is important in the math and ELL-focused work we do?

I think Mrs. Cole was first to mention the phrase "Be a detective of our students." For me, that was the main focus of our class today.  We seen in the videos  Ron presented two students using their fingers to count the differences between counting up and counting on.  Little things like that can give an open window into our students academic development and I completely agree, that starting from the number 8 and counting on, it a completely different concept then simply counting until you reach the total.

2. What aspect of your own practice in math, and with ELL's, do you wish to pursue when developing your own IIMP, which you will teach in the fall?

Since I still have a few more things to do before reaching level 1 of the teaching program I probably will not be using my own IIMP in the fall, but maybe at another time.  Still, I wish there was a book that had a list of behaviors that could mean students are proficient in A or maybe lacking in B.  For example when we learning a student starting at 8 on going up has a concept of number, while I do agree, that was not obvious to me before.  So I suppose the focus of my IIMP would be to have students perform math tasks in situations that are relevant to them whether it is sports, video games, shopping and assess them on not if they solved the problem correctly, but see how it was solved. Then develop instruction based on the results.

Hi Mary, yup I think everyone here was surprised by Ron's presentation.  It really tied into Debra emphasis on the differences of "Scaffold" and "Support."  If students do not have the concept of number down (support) there is no amount of scaffolding that is going to teach a student algebra.  I really agree with the zone of proximal development theory, we have to find that "sweet spot" that is still a challenge for students but not too far over their head.

Mary Shive said:

1.  The activities we engaged in brought to light that 1) not all students have concept of number 2) students must have concept of number in order to be successful in math and 3) we can identify who does/does not have concept of number through astute observations.  Without recognizing the importance of these items, we cannot effectively reach all students in math instruction.

2. When developing my own IIMP, I hope to use a through pre-assessment that will effectively display not only what the students know, but also the train of thought behind what they know.  As shown in the MKT survey, multiple students can often arrive at the same right (or wrong) answer, but may use different strategies to arrive at an answer.  Recognizing the strategies they use, as well as the misconceptions behind the strategies, will help me better plan for instruction.

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