Sunday, June 7, 2015

How Educating Parents, Educated Me

Last week I had my final for my leadership class.  At the end of last year's class we each had to pick a project to incorporate a new program, training, education, etc... into our district or our site for this school year.  There are a group of teachers from our district that were enrolled in this class with me.  They are a group of amazing educators, all passionate about what they do.  They have taught me how to better present myself.  Our group project goal was, to get more parents involved in parent trainings that were held district wide.  I've never presented at another school site, let alone, an audience of people that I had not met before.

Our parent trainings were in Common Core, in some circles, uttering these words is a death sentence.  In others, they are the best two words recently introduced into the education system.  Our group was broken into teams, myself and another educator were in charge of educating our parents in common core math.  This was where I challenged myself.  My masters is in reading, I've been a GLAD trainer, science trainer, and currently a Thinking Maps trainer focusing on writing.  I can say, I've never been a math trainer, or felt I was very strong in math, myself.  One of the activities that we presented was, take one standard and follow it from kindergarten to sixth grade.  The students who attended had fun trying to solve the problems for each grade level.  Parents occasionally struggled with terminology or how to execute the problem.  I felt after that evening more families saw how students had to have a conceptual understanding to move onto the next grade level math standards.  I also saw adults and children who approached the same problem very differently.

 For our final we had to present a PowerPoint and discuss what we had worked on this school year.  There were a panel of 2 people from the Orange County Department of Education who were judging us, along with a person from the year 1 leadership class who watched us.  In this class I worked on "seeking out challenging opportunities that test my own skills and abilities."  Which I sure did.

I'm happy to report, that I passed my class.  

But going through this process I began to think about how each of us interpret a math problem and it's solution.  I've always known every child does not think the same.  I've, also, always asked students about their thinking, but I think so often the other students tune out.  It's difficult for a first grader to articulate what they are thinking.  So, I began using the app Educreations.  Students began to be able to articulate their thinking.

The app looks like this.  When I signed up it was free.  You can upgrade to the pro which has an annual fee.

When we began word problems, I modeled several times how to solve problems, how to pull out the important information, and how I would write the word problem in a number sentence.  I still had many in the class that just couldn't figure out which numbers to use and what to do with those numbers.  So, I started taking pictures of the word problem and having students who were consistently solving the problems correctly think out loud and record themselves doing so.  I would then play these back for the class.   When I played them back the class was silent (anything on the SmartBoard and it has their attention) and I'd hear some "Ohs!" as it played.  I believe playing other student's thinking for the class really helped kids who weren't getting it, get it.  Here is a quick example:
What is nice about this, once I taught the children how to use this app, I could continue teaching the whole class and they could use educreations on their own.  

What I also learned when doing this is, sometimes, students are confused.  Here is an example of that:
This child was consistently getting them right, but he always had "extra stuff".  After watching this, I understood that he thought he had to make a number bond somewhere in his problem.  He did not understand that number bonds are used with purpose.  So, I had a mini lesson with him to help him understand this.  

Educreations could easily be incorporated into other subjects.  I found it just lent itself so nicely to math.  

If you can't get on the internet in your district once you download the app, you can do exactly what my students did without internet connection.   Educreations also has lessons that have been shared by others that you have access to, but you would need to have internet in order to view these.  

And those of you that have a SmartBoard, and your school is not an apple school.   If you bring in your own ipad and do this, you can purchase a VGA Adapter and then you can watch what your students have created on your SmartBoard.  I purchased my adapter on Amazon for less that $20.  

Educreations is a simple app that you might find useful in your teaching.  We often don't have time to listen to each one of our student's thinking process, but using this app it sure did help me listen to a few more students I might not have had time for.

Don't forget to take a look at my TeachersPayTeachers store:  Gina Hickerson's Store


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