Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Deductive vs. Inductive Teaching

I've tried both inductive and deductive teaching, and I have to say that deductive has worked best. I try to give the students a problem in the warm-up that makes them use inductive reasoning to figure out, and then I reinforce it with deductive instruction. The students don't seem to understand the importance of what they are learning unless I put it on a transparency or on the dry erase board. The information matters more to them if I explain it to them and tell them they need to know it. Plus, they get frustrated with inductive teaching. The set-up is different from what they expect, which is for teachers to tell them, not to let them figure things out.
I will say that some of my shop students, who have used angles in shop class, have done a great job with the material in my class. Hands on, practical experience with the material helps.

By the way, if you're wondering why I'm not at school teaching right now it's because my school was damaged in a tornado. We probably won't have school for the rest of the week.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Starting the School Year Off Right

Before I forget it, I'm going to write down everything I wish I had gone over with my students at the beginning of the year-- that first week of school that is all review. I have realized now some of the skills that my students needed to do the work in my Geometry class that they learned from Algebra I, which is what I'll review at the beginning of school next year.

First, anything with negative numbers, especially adding and subtracting. They always get confused with that. And doing it on a number line. They've had a hard time with the distance between two points on a number line.

Second, graphing on the coordinate plane. They still get the x- and y-axis confused, and which number comes first in an ordered pair.

Third, solving for variables in equations.

Fourth, the equation for a line and the distance formula. I taught my students the distance formula, which I just found out they were supposed to have learned last year and they all looked like they had never seen it before.

And finally, order of operations.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Classroom Management Plan Evaluation

Here are my rules: 1. Be in your seat by the time the bell rings. 2. Raise your hand before speaking or getting out of your seat. 3. Respect the teacher, your classmates and the classroom.

There is one of my rules that I have a hard time enforcing, #1. It seems like none of the other teachers require their students to be in when the bell rings, and also the kids coming from the vocational school are always late. Plus, I'm passing out papers at beginning of class and taking attendance instead of standing at the front of the room writing down their seat numbers on the board.

I like rule #2 and I'm pretty good with it, but I need to add "and wait for my permission" because otherwise they think that if their hand is in the air they can talk/get out of their seat.

I'm good with #3 as well. It cuts out the disrespectful comments most of all.

I wish that at the beginning of the year I had told them more about why I had these rules, how my rules would help them in the real world (college, job). I always get "but it's so childish to have to raise your hand to talk." Also, I should have given a talk on cheating at the beginning of the year, because that seems to be a favorite pastime for a number of my students.

The other part of my classroom management plan, creating the environment, has worked really well. My class is very pleasant and positive. I smile all the time, regardless of those people who say don't smile for the first month. I've been called "Ms. Happy" when I walk down the hallway. I can't count the number of times I've been asked why I'm always smiling, or "are you going to teach us to smile like that?" It has worked really well getting the students to participate-- I love when I start the class with review questions and the hands shoot up in the air.

Friday, September 02, 2005

My Favorite Math Teacher

My favorite math teacher was Dr. Allan. I had him for pre-calculus and calculus in 11th grade. He didn't do anything in particular that stood out-- he was just really nice and patient. His only teaching method was solving example problems on the dry erase board. His door was always open to students. He was very respectful to us, even though there was probably 60 years between him and the students.

Even though we all thought Dr. Allan was great and we learned a lot from him, he isn't the person that I try to copy when I teach. There really isn't a teacher that I try to copy exactly when I teach, because I don't think it would fit with my students or my personality. Of course I try to be nice and patient, and I invite students to come before or after school. I do use the dry erase board, but I also use transparencies and worksheets. Dr. Allan didn't have any rules in his classroom-- he's one of those teachers that just doesn't need rules. I, on the other hand, need my rules and my procedures and my whole crazy organizational system (labeling, color-coding, ...). I move through the room a lot more, and ask more questions. I put problems on the board and then send students to the board to solve them after everyone has had a chance to work them out on their own.

Dr. Allan was a great teacher-- perfect for the kind of student that I was-- but my students don't learn as much by just watching me solve a problem. Also, a lot of my students need to hear the information to be able to understand it. After the first week of school, I really changed the way I taught by saying as well as writing, and by making sure the students tried problems on their own before we worked them as a group.