May 1st, 2011
A heater’s failure spoiled Endeavour’s countdown on Friday, April 29th. Troubleshooting over this weekend may help pinpoint the problem so that the shuttle will be able to launch into space as early as Monday, May 2nd for Endeavour’s final liftoff. Endeavour’s mission to the International Space Station, known as STS-134, represents the shuttle’s last scheduled flight before retirement and the second-last flight of the 30-year space shuttle program. NASA plans to conduct the STS-135 mission with a potential launch date of June 28.
As you may be aware, to honor the history of the space shuttle missions and their significant contributions to space science, I have been sharing a series of video clips and lesson plans. Read the rest of this entry »
February 24th, 2011
As you know from the last couple of blog entries, I have been sharing mathematical problem solving lesson plans and video clips that focus around a theme of space exploration. Today while I was home for a snow day, I watched with interest the launch of the space shuttle Discovery. As the shuttle roared out into space, the announcer mentioned that after this flight, its next stop will be The Smithsonian. Discovery, the oldest and most-flown shuttle in NASA’s fleet, will be retired at the end of this 11-day mission to the International Space Station. To date, Discovery has traveled 143 million miles and carried 246 crew members into space since its first flight in 1984. On its 39th and final flight, STS 133 is carrying the Italian-built Permanent Multipurpose Module, Express Logistics Carrier 4 and Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, to the International Space Station.
Watching Discovery’s launch was perfectly timed. It motivated me to add this month’s post to the blog. The video lesson clip and lesson plan for this February focus on the Hubble Space Telescope. I hope you will be as intrigued by Hubble as I have been.
January 9th, 2011
During the year of my award as Oregon’s Teacher of the Year (2007), I was excited and a bit intimidated to learn that all of the Teachers of the Year (TOYs) would be attending Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. While there, I learned some important lessons that have continued to serve me well. One of the reasons I felt a bit intimidated was that we attended Space Camp with TOYs from many countries around the world. I found myself worrying about what a simple first grade teacher from Oregon had to contribute to this amazing group of teachers.
I’m not sure what I contributed to them, but I know the experience was life changing for me. In last month’s blog I shared about how I used some of my experiences at Space Camp as the foundation for a series of video lessons I’m going to be posting to the blog over the next few months. This next video lesson for the New Year, is one of my favorites. Read the rest of this entry »
December 16th, 2010
This last summer, I had the privilege of attending the Mobile Learning Institute in Washington, D.C. during the week of July 11 through the 16th. This institute was co-sponsored by the Pearson Foundation and The Smithsonian. State Teachers of the Year (TOY) from 2007, 2008, and 2009 were invited to apply and 12 of us were selected as the Fellows to attend this session. Fellows had the chance to meet with Smithsonian educators and curators, and to explore first-hand the assets and learning materials that Smithsonian museums make available to teachers and classrooms. With this background, we then took part in extensive professional development sessions, during which time we had the chance to explore the latest digital and mobile technologies and to test ways these technologies could be applied to improve teaching and learning in the classrooms. Other sessions held throughout the summer and fall have had attendees representing other teacher and student groups, (and there was another TOY group that flew in the last week of July and focused on resources from the Smithsonian’s US History Museum). Our session utilized resources at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) and National Postal Museum (NPM). We were divided up into teams of 4. My team concentrated on the Skylab Orbital Museum on display at SASM to design a series of related lesson activities around. You can view the series of video clips our group created as a result of our participation in this institute without having to become a member. I am also uploading to this blog, the lesson plans Learning Plan Skylab Pt1 and Learning Plan Skylab Pt2 I created to utilize and extend the learning ideas introduced in the videos. Read the rest of this entry »
October 2nd, 2010
Gersten and Baker’s* review of the research suggests that good bilingual programs do the following:
- Anchor curriculum goals to vocabulary development
- Develop teachers’ awareness and provide them with resources to allow the strategic use of visual aids in their instruction to reinforce learning and retention
- Use small-group cooperative learning and peer tutoring to enhance learning
- Develop the skills of teachers to strategically use students’ native language to reinforce academic content learning
- Use ongoing research as a resource for staff discussion around current and future program practices
Therefore, taking into consideration all that was written above, the topic of this blog entry will focus on the first critical component listed above, that of vocabulary development. Explicitly teaching the mathematics vocabulary before beginning instruction on a new math concept, is an important precursor to any math lesson. Below, you will find a number of different activities designed to help students acquire new vocabulary words.
Read the rest of this entry »
September 8th, 2010
A new year is underway. Yesterday was the first day of school in Gresham and Gladstone started today. I know the year will bring many challenges to each and every one of us. The number of budget reduction days (9 in Gresham and 11 in Gladstone), the ever increasing challenge of helping students meet grade level standards in math (as well as all the other content areas we are responsible for), and the increased numbers of students in our classes are just a few of the many hurdles we will need to deal with this coming year. But when it comes to the children, I hope this first installment of the blog finds you as eager and excited to get to know your new students as I am. I hope this blog will serve as a re-energizer when circumstances in your classroom prove challenging.
At my school in Gresham, I will be teaching one period of CORE 4th grade math instruction. That will be followed by a half hour of intervention time where we will be flexibly shifting 4th graders based on identified skills they need to work on. For the rest of my time there, I will be collaborating with other grade level classroom teachers on a variety of math and technology projects. I will be continuing my role as a Math Coach in Gladstone on the off hours and days I am not teaching in Gresham. I’m looking forward to all these different roles and hope I’ll be of real assistance to the teams of teachers I’ll be working with.
I’d like to kick off this first blog entry of the school year with a discussion on instructional minutes for math. Read the rest of this entry »
May 26th, 2010
We started out the school year on this Blog talking about how to help students develop strategies that would enable them to become better problem solvers. In the September entry you will recall that I shared a slideshow I had created to teach students a process that assisted them in communicating their thinking in written form as they worked their way through problem solving tasks. At this time of year, we circle back to this previous theme as many students are being asked to put effort into final work sample tasks showcasing what they’ve learned how to do in math. To assist students in creating their best work samples, we reviewed the ROS2E problem solving process as mentioned above. Read the rest of this entry »
April 20th, 2010
I was asked to share my thoughts on homework the other day. I decided this was a conversation worth bringing up with all of you. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this topic over the years. A great article on this topic was written by Stephen Fisher and published in TOMT magazine in September of 2008. Steve included this interesting historical look at the evolution of homework in our country.
“Homework was not always the institution it is today. A 1901 California civil code forbade homework. In the 1920s, five to six hours of fresh air and sunshine were considered preferable to homework. Attitudes towards homework have changed through history; but the present role of homework as a critical tool for increasing student achievement can be traced to the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik. Since then, homework has played an increasingly dominant role in school-home dynamics.”
He goes on to include the following quote regarding some research done on the effectiveness of homework.
“In their groundbreaking book, The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children and Limits Learning, authors Etta Kralovec and John Buell (2000) cite a significant body of research that shatters many popular beliefs about homework’s effectiveness. They argue that homework actually pushes students and families away from schools. This is particularly true for students from low-income families:
‘Like tracking, homework is a practice that perpetuates the social-class inequity that seems built into schooling. When we look at homework in the context of a poor student’s life, the practice seems almost abusive… In their world, homework simply didn’t fit in. … Homework further disadvantages these children by assuming they have a quiet, well-lit place to study, far away from the TV.’ ”
I agreed with many of the premises in the article and had done a fair amount of changing the homework assignments I gave to my students. Read the rest of this entry »
March 14th, 2010
Since January, I have taken on another job as a math coach for a local school district. It has been very exciting. The teachers in this district have made me feel extremely welcome. I have copied below a series of email messages that were recently sent back and forth among a couple of special education teachers and myself. You will find my response to Jim’s question at the end of this series. My hope is that others will chime in with your thoughts, too, since middle school is not my area of greatest expertise. Here is the first message that started this conversation: Read the rest of this entry »
February 7th, 2010
Recently a great conversation regarding computational fluency flew across the internet highways. I thought it was worth sharing with all of you here on this blog I’d like to start by sharing a quote from the National Math Panel Report that encapsulates the essence of the growing body of research calling forth discussion around this topic.
“The mathematics curriculum must simultaneously develop conceptual understanding, computational fluency, and problem-solving skills. The development of these concepts and skills is intertwined, each supporting the other and reinforcing learning.
Teachers can help by providing students with sufficient practice distributed over time and including a conceptually rich and varied mix of problems to support their learning. In addition, teachers should encourage and support students in their efforts to master difficult mathematics content. Students who believe that effort, not just inherent talent, counts in learning mathematics can improve their performance.”
For more discussion on this topic, I’d like to point you to another great resource. Read the rest of this entry »