Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Adapt, not adopt or fear and panic

I did a lesson today that could serve as a model for integrating current events into a curriculum in a way that involves students in research, extends the curriculum, and helps students see how what they are learning in school is used the "the real world." Each of the strategies is well-suited for both science and math but they do take some adaptations, as do all strategies. I've seen excellent math teachers use adaptations of Discussion Web with several concepts in algebra; I need to call Leigh and remind her to send me those examples.

I need to keep reminding myself that these pre-service teachers have a hard time creating adaptations. Some are able to - but it is rare. And just because it is hard for them to "think outside the box" right now, doesn't mean they won't be able to when they have gained some experience in the classroom.

I like the slower pace - focusing on fewer strategies, but having students create examples from science and math. I just hope I'm giving them sufficient different strategies so that each of them will have enough strategies to choose from.

I didn't really have the math folks with me today. They have a hard time thinking of real world adaptations of the math they are teaching and a harder time envisioning adaptations of strategies taught embedded in other content areas. Perhaps I should have found a math current events lesson - but I had to make a choice between sleeping and having two different lessons today, and sleep won. After this weekend, things will be a little less hectic; at least I hope so.

These students have been taught math in one way: memorize algorithms, one and only one way to work math problems, use of naked numbers; we are asking them to teach in a whole other way - a way that promotes understanding rather than rote memory. They have a tall order and many, I suppose, are near panic. Who wouldn't be?? They fear, I suppose, not having all the answers. But who does??? And what a mistake to think that having all the answers is a good thing for students. We've all had teachers who feed their ego by proving [or trying to] they are the smartest in the room. When that happens, students are marginalized and most will never really love the subject matter they are being taught.

There is so much to learn about teaching - and learning -- and so little time. I remember when I was a new teacher -- these students know so much more than we ever did when first we set foot in a classroom. That gives me hope.

1 comment:

MegWolfe said...

It is funny that you wrote on this particular topic for your blog today, because not only were you talking about what we went over in class, but you were talking about what I had a problem with a week ago. Am I going to be ready? It is very hard because math was never taught in a way(to me) that tied real world events to it. It was never taught in great activities that made us truly understand what we were doing. It was taught so we would memorize, move on, and memorize again. Hasn't there been a lot of research done on how much students actually recall after the test? I think so. It is hard for us math students to understand just because of the way were taught. It is stepping out of our box, and it does make us uncomfortable. Atleast I know it does for me, but the more that we practice these strategies that you and Dr. Manizade are teaching us, the more prepared we will feel when we go out in the field on our own. I think it would be 1000 times harder to just go out there blind folded and be expected to teach in this new way, but as hard for us as it seems right now, it is going to help us and our students so much when we get our chance at teaching.