Katie's Content Literacy Blog

01/27/2010

Reflecting on “Talking Their Way Into Science”

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarkie14 @ 10:32 PM

After reading Gallas’ book on Science Talks, I have a lot of information I need to process.  The narratives of the discussions her students had and her insights were invaluable.  I loved the idea of asking a elementary student why they thought leaves changed, how the moon came to be, and how rice plants began.  While reading this, however, I struggled with how I would implement this in my own classroom, especially when teaching mathematics.  How would I ask my students to figure out how to solve an inequality using absolute value without knowing absolute value or inequalities?  How would my students describe/intuit the meaning of an inequality sign?  the straight brackets for absolute value?  I’m still struggling with this idea and I hope to learn more about this idea throughout the course.

I really like to idea of bookending a unit with a discussion on how or why one would solve a specific type(s) of problems before giving the algorithms to solve such problems.  Such an approach would allow me to see what creative ways they students would use to solve the given problems based on their existing skill set.  It reminded me of a lesson about solving systems of equations. I found on NCTM’s website (http://illuminations.nctm.org/Lessons/CandyProblem/CandyProblemAS.pdf).  The actual solution to this system of equations cannot be found using any of the algorithms taught in algebra (substitution, graphing, or elimination).  I wonder if presenting the students with a novel problem such as the Candy Problem at the beginning of a unit would stimulate and open their minds to new concepts in mathematics.

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Responding to Wells’ Case for Dialogic Inquiry

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarkie14 @ 4:54 AM

Reading Wells’ article in his anthology was quite refreshing.  While reflecting on what I learned from this article, I realized that it was the first article I read that explain the origin of constructivism.  Moreover, Wells acknowledges the different aspects to learning, something that I have struggled with in identifying the best ways to interact with my future students.  In an inquiry-based lesson, the teacher plays an active role and facilitates the students’ questions.  The lesson she structures must consider the skills that the students already have but what she intends for them to learn.  Moreover, the personalities and relationships between the teacher and her students must also be considered in structuring the lesson plan.  As I write this, I feel that what Wells conveyed is obvious, especially considering how I have been taught to compose my lesson plans.  However, his words really made it clear why I was taught to create a lesson plan.

This was especially poignant when understanding the need for creating and presenting a question at the beginning of the lesson.  The idea that said question does not need to be clearly formulated.  I felt at times when writing lesson plans in my first student placement, I was just forming a question out of the keywords of a lesson instead of how the skills learned in the lesson may be applied to solve real-world problems.  Even while writing this, I still struggle with the idea of how much information must be conveyed to students before presenting them with a real-world problem.  For example, when I presented my eighth-graders a lesson on how to solve inequalities using absolute values, I posed the question, “how are inequalities using absolute value solved?”  I wonder what the impact would be if I just presented them with an example of such an inequality.  Would it allow the students to investigate and learn more through discovery or trial-and-error?  While I realize that there isn’t a single method in presenting an inquiry-based lesson, I still wonder if one way is better than the other.

As an aside, I also really appreciated the author’s diagram on how to structure an inquiry-based lesson.  It illustrated simply what the building blocks of strong lesson rooted in inquiry are.  I feel like I should have it blown up and pasted inside my lesson planner or  made as the wallpaper of my laptop!

01/21/2010

Hello, world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarkie14 @ 7:02 PM

I will be using this blog to reflect on the readings for my Content Literacy class at Teachers College. I expect to learn a lot about myself and about helping students become mathematicians.

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