Monday, November 26, 2012

blog post 5

This semester I have been surprised by the literacy levels of my students.  They are able to analyze mathematical word problems in their homework independently and put together complicated directions to figure out what they need to be working on.  They are not able to do this extensively however.  They have not been able to pull out relevant information from more extensive word problems and problems of the week.

September 30, 2013
My literacy-rich classroom for math would involve students analyzing directions and given text to find the math behind them.  My students will be engaged analyzing math within situations throughout their lives and the current events in society.  They are reading over current events and using their math analysis tools to work through goals within the text.  They are writing reflections on their learning on a daily basis as well as their thinking process in solving these math problems.

December 15, 2013
My literacy rich classroom has students analyzing more complicated problems and has students who are reading problems of the week in groups.  The students are engaged in developing methods of analyzing problems and developing new strategies to measure justice in their social environment.  They are reading articles about how to measure social justice using mathematics and mathematical breakthroughs in the field.  Students are writing reflections on their process of thinking, math essays and notes on readings about math breakthroughs.  They are discussing with their group all of these things and sharing their learnings in group discussions.

May 30, 2013
My literacy rich classroom has a series of texts and current events that students have analyzed and are now creating portfolios based on their learnings.  Students are engaged in finalizing their research and are reflecting on their development throughout the year.  Students are capable of independent learning in their analysis of current events and justice issues.  Students have developed methods to test fairness and can look for accuracy and truth in their own studies of society.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Speak Up Reports Reflection

In working with my students I have seen them use their cell phones for research, social networking, and academic support.  It is clear from the Speak Up Report "Learning in the 21st Century Mobile Devices + Social Media = Personalized Learning" that we are headed to classrooms with mobile devices and we need to, as educators, learn how to use these devices to educate.  Students have these amazing tools at their disposal, parents want their students to learn about how to use the devices, and teachers need to learn how to implement them in a classroom.  In my own teaching, I know I have to start developing methods and strategies to take advantage of the learning opportunities that mobile devices offer such as research, classroom forums, and anything else that the students and I come up with.

In my investigation of the Speak Up student panel video regarding technology in the classroom, I felt that the first student that spoke had a relevant point about it being necessary to find ways of allowing students to direct themselves in their own learning.  Students need to be engaged and motivated to investigate information for themselves.  I was thinking about my own students and how many of them are happy using their cell phones in class as tools of learning.  But at the same time, during this minor flashback, I remembered how students can also be extremely distracted from what is happening in the classroom.  The second student that spoke up surprised me when she pointed out that this can be the downfall to students having mobile access in a classroom and she thought that students should not have mobile access but instead computers for research.  At this point my co-teacher and I have agreed that we are not allowing cell phones but are going to strive to find ways for them to use cell phones in a productive way.  We don't want to limit student access to information but will set aside tasks for them to use their phones productively.

The Youth Teach 2 Learn program is fantastic!  It is clear that these students have the capacity to teach other students and inspire them to become more engaged in various content areas.  In order to start such a program at our school site, it will be important to find a group of educators who are wanting and willing to take on this program, to find ways of communicating with students, and want to try new things.  In working with administration, it would be necessary to find ways of this being a learning experience for the students involved.  The empowerment of these youth is essential in the learning of the school as a whole.

Unit Plan

For my unit plan I created a page liked in a tab above.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Literacy Reflection

In my classroom we create avenues for student discussion as well as problems of the week for students to explore.  Students are given tools to go about solving problems and then discuss various ways they each perceive their own mathematical reasoning.  Students spend time exploring given problems of the week and have to create their own understanding of how to go about solving the problem.  During their exploration of problems of the week, as well as group discussions, students are constantly finding ways of applying their own problem solving strategies, reasoning, and critical thinking skills.  When students are initially given problems of the week, as well as daily problems in class, they are given time to explore their initial thought process with their group, discuss various methods, and collaborate in their reasoning on how to go about approaching or solving the problem.

Throughout the class, the students develop methods of going about how to solve difficult problems.  Students learn techniques of how to approach problems where they may feel they have no way of solving, and they begin to put to use the tools they have learned up to that point.  These tools can be in form of formulas, equations, or any general mathematical reasoning they have developed.  In the development of these tools of analyzing problems, students are also given the opportunity to apply their analytical reasoning to everyday life and media.  Students are given content to explore from an unbiased background to see the purpose of certain message they are being sent.  The purpose is to create a critical and analytical mind that holds truth to a higher standard.  Inflated opinion has no weight when it comes to the logical reasoning needed to demonstrate truth in mathematics.  Students are therefore learning ways of distinguishing between truths and falsities in media.

The media students are exposed to often can come from the wide range of technologies surrounding their lives and therefore the students must build up fluency with such technologies in an educational environment.  Students can spend time

Throughout the class, students are always working independently, as well as in groups, as a way for them to become self-directed learners.  We are starting a new way of going through problems in class, where we give students time to work through classwork without given any instruction.  This will build up their ability to find ways of tackling a problem without instruction.  After the first 5 minutes we check in with the students and answer questions, discuss some strategies and then let them continue working with the intention of reflecting at the end.  The students are provided with this opportunity to work and interact with their classmates on a daily basis.  The teams they work in will be changed regularly throughout the class every two weeks.  In these groups students are also working through POWs (Problems of the Week).
When working with POWs the students are each given a different task to work through in which they are responsible for so students can get experience managing larger projects in groups.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sociocultural Aspects of Schooling for ELs

When working with students who are English Learners, there can be a struggle in communicating what is being asked of them and what will be assessed.  If the directions to a task are too complicated, the challenge may not be the task but understanding what the question is asking.  In order to remedy this, students will be given "toolkits."  These are booklets with definitions to subject area vocabulary, complete with examples and varying definitions for the students to fill out.  Students will be able to customize their toolkits based on their own understandings and use them on assessments.  Through this process students will be able to build up their academic vocabulary, learn to create usable definitions for their own thinking process, and focus on learning the skills necessary for a subject rather than the exact definitions for varying words.  This will also get students in the habit of creating their own toolkits for vocabulary for other classes.  They will be able to tie formal definitions, examples and any additional notes to help them with their individual learning needs.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson Planning Quick Write

Given that students require multiple forms of learning to help their brains grow, I create an environment where students can be mentally stimulated in multiple ways.  This can be done through the use of music for transitions or during work time, stretch breaks, physical actions to remember vocabulary, picture reflection journals, etc.  The purpose is to allow students various avenues of learning for their growth.  Adolescents also require more specific direction and purpose and therefore when working through assignments and lessons, it will be important to work to develop students sense of perspective while creating tasks that are not based on deep understandings of perspective.  Students are engaged in learning while they are working on assignments and focused by allowing students to make decisions regarding their own learning.  Students will have their own personalities, needs and learning skills reflected in the activities.  This then means that lessons require an understanding of students before details are established within the lessons.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SDAIE Assessment

For the lesson I am designing the students will be required to represent their understanding of slope in various ways.  To set up the assessment, students will be given the definition of slope, examples and equations of it.  After taking notes the students will need to be able to write out their own understanding of slope.  They must describe it in their own words, create examples on a graph, and identify it in an equation.  This application of knowledge is at the advanced level with regards to applying "knowledge of language to achieve comprehension of...content areas." (ELD Standards, Reading Comprehension - Cluster 3)  The student will also be working towards structuring "ideas and arguments in a given context by giving supporting and relevant examples."  (ELD Standards, Writing Strategies and Applications - Cluster 2)  The definition will not need to be a formal one, but rather a description to express their own understanding.  The graphical example and equation will allow me to see if students are making the connections of slopes in the various forms they may encounter it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


One of the SDAIE strategies I have been learning about is called Nonlinguistic Representations.  The strategy entails using more than oral communication throughout a lesson. The theory is that the body stores knowledge in a linguistic and nonlinguistic forms.  The nonlinguistic forms are rooted in imagery.  So a teacher can put to use pictures throughout the classroom, hand gestures during lectures, using objects that support main concepts, and model behavior.  Teachers can also put to use things like graphic organizers with pictures in them to further a student's content vocabulary.  This is something I observed my coteacher using in his class, as well as a Spanish teacher I was interviewing regarding content vocabulary.

My coteacher uses what he calls a "toolkit."  This is something the students create using different need to know terms.  There are places for written work but also for examples and non-examples to provide the student with visual representation of what something means.  The teacher I interviewed told me that in her class she uses hand gestures for all new vocabulary and doesn't even have to define it because the gestures actually do that for her.  For example, when she teaches "to break" in Spanish, she makes two fists and makes a breaking movement.  Students respond to it and it reinforces what she is teaching.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Literacy Survey

This past week I gave my students a Literacy Survey to see what their literacy habits were like and how they could relate to the class.  Here is a link to the survey...

After reviewing the responses of some 25+ students, I learned that when asked "what do you spend most of your time reading?" many checked boxes for facebook posts and text messages.  Only a couple read fantasy, science fiction, magazines or internet articles.  Most students read for their own enjoyment less than3 hours per week.  There were other interesting observations but I would prefer to focus on just what students spend their time reading.  Given that not all students chose text messages as a form of reading for themselves, nor did all say facebook posts, but most said at least one of them.

Given this information, I think it would be fantastic to create a facebook group for the class to join.  We could take time in class to run through different parts of the group with the class, show the materials, post homework, create a calendar, and most excitingly, we can post thought provoking articles, links, images, and videos!  If students are reading posts simply because they are in the news feed on facebook, students may find various math and education concepts exciting and interesting.

When it comes to students' texting habits, I would like to start using to start eliciting student responses in the classroom.  This may be a useful tool to engage students, to show them something new and exciting, and connect with them using media that they are comfortable with.  Also I want to create a way that students can text questions to either a class email, blog, forum, or facebook group so that questions can be answered more quickly.

Whether using facebook, or text messaging, it will be great to be able to share useful exciting information that students can read about, get excited about, all through a media that they enjoy using.  Instead of having suggested readings for a math assignment, students can see posts on facebook and decide to watch them or not.  I think students will be much more likely to read something directed to them through facebook, rather than through a class syllabus.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Because of a lack of funding, the Avid program at a local high school is forced to sell food and snacks to raise money for it's programs.  The Avid program is specifically designed to help students from various backgrounds get into college and they are forced to raise whatever money they can through the students, to achieve this goal.  It would seem that a program like Avid would receive what they needed to function successfully in their pursuits in helping students become college bound, but this is not the case.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Name

One common practice amongst Bahais is to give names to their children from different martyrs or heroes of the Bahai Faith.  When choosing my middle name, Imon, my parents looked to my mom's ancestry where they found a man who was given the title Haji-Iman.  Iman's story consists of persecution, imprisonment, and sacrifice for his faith.  It was clear my parents wanted me to have a strong Bahai identity but at the same time wanted me to feel welcomed into western society.  To accomplish this they decided that I would use my first name, Sean, as my primary name but kept my strong ties to family and my faith using my middle name of Imon.  It is because of this that throughout my life I have been affectionately referred to by my family as Sean Imon.  I think they do it just because it rhymes.