I Taught an AQ…So What???

So I just finished teaching an AQ/ABQ in Intermediate/7 and 8 Math.  The days were long, we had no windows, but wow…what a learning experience.  For those that were involved, I want to extend my gratitude for stretching me and making my think past my current experience.  Here are a few take-aways from the term:

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks…Yeah Right!

There was so much experience in the class, people that have been teaching for as long, or longer than I have, and yet everyone walked away with something.  Everyone had some questions, some new conclusions, something that they were excited to try out (including me!)  One thing that resonated with me was that more and more, people were thinking about how to service their students who are yet to come, versus how they have serviced students in the past.  I think a part of this thinking came from me telling a story about a staff meeting where one teacher continued to hold on to an idea that she had.  I knew that the teacher had the best intentions, and in the end it came out that she was scared to let the idea go because she’d be admitting that she had done wrong to so many students in the past.  We talked about how the goal is always to improve and to make things as good as possible for students to come, and eventually she gave herself a pat on the back for accepting the new idea.  Even for me, thinking about things as beneficial for students to come versus detrimental for students in the past has become a conscious effort, and I’ve seen in myself a quicker acceptance to alternative thought.

Open Questions and Parallel Tasks – People LOVE Them!

Come to think of it, people love anything Dr. Marian Small comes up with! I think the most popular take-away this year was open questions and the effect that it has on the un-engaged learner.  (As a side note, I use un-engaged deliberately, because I think dis-engaged implies that the student was never engaged, but un-engaged admits that at one point the student was engaged, and we, as an education system, have done something to un-engage them…not sure who I heard this from, but it’s way too good for me to have come up with.)  So open questions and parallel tasks were really the number one tool according to my class which could be used to re-engage these learners.  I think that people love them because they really give everyone an opportunity to participate.  They allow everyone to “feel the love” in math class.  I remember in my math classes as a kid, I felt the love.  I could answer quickly, I could throw my hand up fast and be confident.  That’s until I got bored, stopped thinking and developed gaps.  Then when I wanted to feel some love, I couldn’t…I wasn’t sure of the answer.  So with open questions, you really give a platform for everyone to participate, and start to build some of their confidence back.

Algebra Tiles – Bring ’em On!

People love algebra tiles (but they have to be taught how to use them!) Oh that day was a roller coaster.  People did not look happy when I brought them out.  Everyone wanted to do my questions using some shortcut they remembered, or some way that they had just taught a class full of kids.  I really had to insist that these little tiles would paint a wonderful picture about algebra, and that we should give them a chance, and one by one, people started seeing the rectangles come out, and started seeing the square get completed, literally.  So…if you’re going to present algebra tiles to teachers, make sure you teach them how to use them.

Technology – We Need It!

I did not expect to be asked so many questions about various tech tools.  I don’t overload the course with tech because I don’t want it to be in the forefront.  I use less in this course than I would with my students, but people wanted more! This is so super exciting to me because it says that teachers are ready to take on this beast, fully knowing that there may be glitches, things may not work out perfectly, and it may be an arena where you aren’t an expert.  But it seems that people are ready none-the-less.  So lets get it! There should be more up-to-date AQ’s about implementing technology in the classroom.  I think that these AQ’s shouldn’t be so much about certain APPs or certain LMSs, because by the end of the course, there’s probably a better app or LMS, but it should be about things like, what makes a good instant response app? What makes a good LMS? What can technology do which pencil and paper can’t???  Hmmm…maybe I’m gonna have a MOOC…stay tuned.

Dan Meyer – We Need More of Him

I think he’s one of my favourites…and I’m sure that I gave a biased account to my class, because they all felt that he was extremely powerful.  I think the big take-aways from him were creating conversation so that math can be used to serve that conversation.  And asking the question first, and then giving information.  I overheard one person say “In textbooks, why don’t they just put it backwards?” Made me really think! A question reads:

The perimeter of a rectangle is 24, the length is 2 more than the width.  What is the area? – Students have so much trouble with this, for many reasons, but I think one main one is organizing the information.  What if the question read:

What’s the area of a rectangle? The perimeter is 24, and the length is 2 more than the width.

I really wonder if that would make a difference??? If you find out, please let me know!

That’s it for now, I’m sure there’ll be a part 2 for the post, but good gosh, I just loved the last 3 weeks so much! Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad its done and I now have the summer to enjoy, but it wasn’t the worst way to spend the first three weeks of summer!