Tuesday, May 31, 2011


How should students be graded in mathematics:

We use UCSMP, and we follow their percentages they feel should be used for grading.

70% Tests
20% Quizzes
10% Homework

This is a lot of pressure on the students to perform well on the tests.  Which I believe is good, because I feel that students need this to be prepared for when they leave school.  I have also inserted projects as tests to help students that may have difficulty with test anxiety.  The homework is graded on effort, not correctness.  I feel it is important for students to held accountable for their own work.  If they are choosing not to check them homework and to not to it, then in the end it will only affect themselves. 

I think there could be validity in lowering test percentages to 50 or 60% and make it mandatory to do projects or even a paper to cover the additional 10-20%.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Following/Blog Roll David Coffee

Going through Johns list of blogs he follow I found David's.  This one drew my eye because the first post I saw was about the common core.  This is the way of the future and is something that I want to learn more about so I along with my department can be ready once the switch begins. 

Another link/ blog I wanted to follow was wiki.  I tried setting one of these up for my AP Calculus class, but failed miserably.  I am looking for more knowledge on how to successfully set up and use one of these in the classroom.

Project Ideas

Instruction Dialog: Probability.  I want to focus on if I am addressing my objectives and if my presentation of the information is sequential.

Pedagogy: Direct vs. Facilitator, what is the best way to present mathematics to students (especially struggling students who now need to pass Algebra 2) Found a good article see Bibliography

Concept Map: Content Area: Derivatives and Rules to how to take derivatives of different functions and problems leading up to related rates.

What do I do to try and make me a better teacher

I think everyday I try to get a little better at being a good teacher.  I know it is a long road, a never ending one actually, to being a great teacher.  One goal each day is to make sure I ask my students inqury based questions.  Ask the students why, how come, is that important, and how can that be seen in your everyday life, allows me to gain insight on what my students truley need.

Inqury based instruction I feel gives the students a chance to explain what they know, and infact gives me the opportunity to realize what they do not know.  Having the students justify their reasoning allows me to gear my classroom and instruction towards what they are missing.  If I just ask them if they "get it" I am gaining no feedback.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

ANNT Bib 2

1. Shifting from Traditional to Nontraditional Teaching Practices using Multiple Reprsesntations. Rider, Robin. Mathematics Teacher, Vol 100, No. 7. March 2007

Was an example of a teacher that realized he needed to change the way he presented inforamtion to his class.  Like many of us, we will first change by adding in graphs, and tables and showing them how the are important.  We will talk about how to tansition between one another, but what I have noticed about that change is just what the author stated.  You can change instruction, but if you do not change your assessment to model your instruction, then it will be for nothing.  This is what I found very inlightining.  In my classes I am trying to find better ways to teach students Algebra 2 and the use of technology is something I am trying to use more.  After reading this article I believe I have some better ideas on what and how to approach the issue of teaching struggling students high level mathematics.

2. Putting Understanding First.  Wiggins, Grant & McTighe, Jay.  Educational Leadership, Vol 65, No. 8.  May 2008.

This Article talks about how a mathematics classroom should be constructed.  I feel this is a very good article about pedagogy.  I am interested in whether it is more important to direct teach or take the approach of a facilitator.  The article speaks of teaching for meaning and transfer and gives three bullet points for how to construct and teach mathematics.

1. Direct Instruction
2. Facilitation
3. Coaching

Good article of designing a classroom and instituting the skills necessary for students to gain understanding into what the mathematics is really doing.

3. Modifying Our Questions to Assess Students Thinking.  Chappell, Michaele F. Thompson, Denisse R.  Matheamtics Teaching in the Middle School, Vol.4 No.7, April 1999

Starting the article, 7 standard questions are asked to students and through out the article infroamtion is gathered from how the students respond.  They give three diffrent examples of each, and explain the information that can be gathered from asking a student to explain their reasoning.  This part of the activites gave a tremendus amount of feedback and is something I try to employ but focus more on the correct answer.

I think this was a good read, and used good examples to explain/show what we should be looking for as eduactors and how we can use assessments to gain understanding of our students.

4. The Challenges of Implementing Innovation.  Edwards, Barbara S.  Connecting Research to Teaching. Vol. 93, No. 9.  December 2000

I thought this was a great article that describes the challenges of implementing new ideas, concepts or teaching styles to a classroom.  In the article Barbara talks about how even the best ideas are hard to implement, and they never seem to work out the way you want the first time.  With the struggles at the start most attempts are soon faded away and you return back to what has worked before.  I think this was a great article to read as we are constantly in a reform movement in mathematics.  We are being asked to teach at a level that no other mathematics teachers has before in Michigan, four years for all students. 

The article also made a point to say that teachers that are not strong in their discipline will likley fade back to what has worked before faster than those that are stronger.  Being able to understand the mathematics will make it, not easier, but more likley to succeed in implementing your new ideas.  If you are thinking about reforming your teaching then I would suggest this read, and now that in time you will succeed just do not give up before that chance arises.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bill: Where I am Now

Hi everyone,

I am currently completing my fifth year of teaching at Greenville Public Schools.  I graduated from Central Michigan (may 2006) with a secondary education degree in the fields of mathematics, chemistry and physics.  I was hired at Greenville in June 2006, which I was pretty excited about espically since I missed my interview and figured I was heading out of state to find a job (Opps).  During my five years I have taught from algebra to AP Calculus.  The AP Calc course was taught this last year, and I am very proud of this because it is the first time that AP Calc has been taught at Greenville, and I develope the program and I guess survived through the first year of it.  Along with teaching math, I have also taught physics.  This brought up a dilema for me last year as I had the option of taking over the physics program, or stay with math.  Happily I choose to stay with math.

Along with teaching I have been very active coaching at greenville.  I have coached football (Freshman head coach - 5 years), wrestling (Assistant Head Coach - 5 years) and baseball (freshman head coach - 4 years).  This past spring I had to drop baseball so I could focus on completing my masters (Only way I could take this course).  During my coaching time here at Greenville I have been apart of their first ever State Championship (Wrestling 2008) and their first Runner Up in state (Wrestling 2011).

Overall I love what I do here at Greenville.  The kids are great hard working students and the faculty works well together to make it possibly for all students to learn.  Greenville is a place I would like to spend the rest of my days teaching, jsut hope the budget cuts do not make me look elsewhere.

Bill Breen

Annotated Bib 1

Annotated Bibliography
“Tailoring Tasks to Meet Students’ Needs,”  McDuffie, Wohlhunter, Breyfogle, Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, vol 16, no 9, May 2011.
Four strategies to make curriculum/lessons/instruction fit student needs.  Eg. ELL & Special Education students.
1.  Switch to a familiar context
2.  Supplement foundational gaps
3.  Incorporate overarching goals
4.  Adjust for reading levels
I would recommend this article to others.  It really emphasizes how little changes to how we present material to students can make big differences for their learning and understanding of the content.