Friday, April 26, 2013

Time to Learn!

I have been teaching for 20 years. As I reflect over this school year, I have thought about this being a "Dream Year". I have been in a brand new classroom, used brand new computers and started a brand new course, all things I have dreamed of.

But, as I think back to my first year of teaching with books, pencils, paper, chalkboards and chalk. i taught in a small building with 7 teacher, being the only math teacher. My classroom was my world. No computer. No TV. No phone. I seldom knew what was going on out the wall of my class. My goal then was to teach students how to make the grade. My dream was to survive the school year.

I would have never dreamed of this schedule: teaching students who were taking a 4th year of high school math, by choice, teaching with the help of a smart board, instant Internet access to look up questions asked (such as "Is the tower of Pisa really that tall with that Angle?"), phone to quickly and easily contact parents, textbooks online, homework completed online and student access to computer generated examples.

I would have NEVER dreamed of this Dream Year. What will my classroom look in another 20 years? There is no way to know today! But if I continue to strive to learn, my students will benefit every day

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Students have changed!

This year we were given the amazing opportunity to pilot the My Math Lab program with our Algebra 3 with Trigonometry class.  It is a program where students complete all coursework online.  WOW!  Students have changed!  Last year, my students would just skip word problems and if they couldn't figure out a problem, they would just ask me to work it for them in class.  This year, my students work on assignments until they are perfect!  Anything less that 100% isn't good enough!  Students choose to come in during lunch, and during other class periods, to work on their math assignments.

Last year, my students would attempt to work review assignments for tests.  If they need help, they would only work on only the problems on the review assignments and hope for the best.  With My Math Lab, my students are allowed to work review assignments as many times as they would like.  I now have students work the entire review several times.  A few students have even completed unit reviews as many as 10 to 12 times to make sure they totally understand every type of problem.  Many students work the reviews until they score a 100%, therefore increasing the number of A scored on every test.

Last year, my students would NEVER read an example from the book to figure out the process to solve a problem.  This year, my students are constantly reading through examples to make sure they are working the problems correctly.  Plus, they are telling the students near them to just read the examples!

Last year, I had my students complete homework quizzes each week.  I very seldom looked at every problem completed by my students because of time.  This year, my students know immediately whether or not every single problem is correct on every assignment.

Last year, I hated work that was turned in late.  I never wanted to even look at it.  I set a deadline in early May so that I would have plenty of time to get everything graded.  This year, the grading is not an issue.  I still have to look at every problem on the tests to make sure my students didn't type their answer incorrectly.  For example, if they are to enter a point as their answer and the program provides the parenthesis, the program would count the problem wrong if the student entered an additional set of parenthesis.

Last year, my students frequently worked together and help each other.  The students who have always been successful in math usually did the explaining.  This year, all of my students are more confident when they are helping their peers.  My lower achieving students have a tremendous amount of confidence.  They already know that their problems are correct.  They know that they know what they are talking about.  They enjoy discussing their assignments.  Some groups of students even try to find different ways to solve their problems.  This year, my students have gained the mathematical confidence needed to be successful in college.

My favorite moment this week...I have a student who has been absent many times this semester.  Hmmm...she was always absent on test days.  Three weeks ago, she had a 44% and 4 tests to complete.  She, with some help from her mother, decided that she better get these missing tests taken care of.  She stayed after school several days, came in when she was released from her virtual class and brought her lunch to the math lab every day for two weeks.  She was so focused that she earned a 100% on each of the 4 tests.  One of her friends was jealous.  The "absent all the time" student worked with her jealous friend to complete the reviews for the 2 test that she needed to make up.  The absent all the time student said yesterday to the jealous student made a 98% on her test, "I am so proud of you!"  It shows that students with Fs, can still be successful with hard work.

My students have changed and it's all because of our amazing administration who provided us the opportunity to use My Math Lab!