Working with our “Tech Buddies”

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I will never forget and always be grateful to Mrs.Iseman for partnering with me eleven years ago during my first year as a teacher. Pontiac has always valued teachers collaborating together, and Mrs. Iseman’s kindergarten students have been working with my fifth graders for more than a decade!

It is always a favorite time for both students and teachers. Currently, my fifth grade students are learning to work as mentors and teachers to Mrs. Iseman’s children. We always work with a technology theme of some sort. The “Tech Buddies” help each other with different reading, and math skills using the ITEC computers once a week.

This week we showed our buddies how to make a Wordle. So my fifth graders spent some time this week working on interviewing their partners for personal information to share in a Wordle.

View below for some pics of us working together.

Teaching the “New” Math

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One of the biggest concerns I hear from parents on a regular basis usually revolves around how different “Math” is today. Often parents become confused and frustrated when their children come home with homework in math and when they attempt to help become faced with the fact that their child’s teacher “doesn’t do it like that.”

Today was parent conference day, and many of my discussions touched on this topic as well. Rest assured I understand the problem parents run into with the changes taking place in math instruction. I feel your pain. But…

I firmly believe the changes that have been made in math instruction since “We” were in school will benefit all students. Math in my classroom looks very different from math even a decade ago. The lessons are geared towards student led discussions, group learning activities, real world applications, and alternative strategies that support deeper understanding. Students are being prepared to teach each other, and explain how to solve problems. Students this year will be writing and journaling about math, too.

Because much of this is new to parents, I want to remind parents how I feel about homework. I consider homework practice. Students are actually allowed to make mistakes on homework. What I ask is that they do as much of it as they can, and that they come to class prepared to ask questions on the problems they do not understand. Also, I provide students with homework packets so that they can both work ahead in math, or work on problems at a slower pace. This should allow students to work at their pace and not feel the pressure of having nightly assignments over their head. I do collect homework packets on a regular basis as we complete sections of math, and I do assign a grade for having the packets completed, but I do not assign grades based on right or wrong. The grades are determined by effort in completing the work.

From what I’ve experienced so far this year, teaching math this way should benefit everyone, and the students I teach seem very excited with the way homework and math is done in my class. In fact, the greatest part of today’s meetings was hearing how supportive and understanding parents have become with the way we do math differently. Hang in there! And thanks for being a part of the learning process.

Here are some snapshots of us working in math.

Testing the iPod App

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I’m trying out to see what blogging is like on Amy’s new iPod.

Student Inquiry on Freezing

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We have been learning about the Scientific Method and Process Skills scientists use to investigate and conduct experiments in class so far this year. This week we have talked about the different types of variables and the difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Observations.

I decided it is time to move beyond discussing these skills and begin doing the work of scientists in our class.

We also have a couple of flip video cameras in our classroom, and I was curious to see what would happen if two students took them home and tested out one of our class inquiry questions

So… Chloe, Payton, and Grace each took the cameras home and were told to video tape themselves answering the question – “Which Freezes Faster… Salt Water or Fresh Water?”

Before viewing what’s your hypothesis??

Watch carefully and see if they do a good job controlling their variables as they complete the experiment.

Chloe’s Video

Payton and Grace’s Video

One Blog is Not Enough

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Okay, so today we start adding students to edublogs so that we can begin work on our digital portfolios.

As a result, I have created a second blog for myself as tswick.edublogs.org which will host the students blogs.

You may want to start checking this blog as well, but it will mainly be used a gateway for students collaboration. This blog will continue to host class news as it has all year.