Something I learned today was _____ (be specific! An answer of math is too general)
_____ was similar to the lesson yesterday because _____ (write a couple of sentences explaining how they are)
Today’s reflection questions for students is all about how they perceive my lessons. It is a check to make sure what I think I am doing in class is what I actually am doing.
1) What are students taking away from the lesson?
There are many factors that effect how students perceive lessons, but ultimately I am responsible for what students take away from my class. Are they paying attention to the critical outcomes of the lesson? How well can they describe them? Right now I am having students define the objective of the day, and that is going very well. It also provides students a learning objective in their terms, one that is more accessible to them. I have found that the first question is starting to smooth out for students, there are less corrections or clarifications that need to be made.
2) How well am I connecting content for students?
This is a huge concern for me every day. How are students taking the information we discuss in class and internalize it? Are they a user or implementor? This last question has been my biggest focus the past month. My students have very large gaps in their mathematical knowledge. They remember rules and try blindly applying them wherever they can. I actually see two things largely contributing to this: testing and calculators. We test our students so much, and for the sake of speed and efficiency, those test have a large multiple choice bank. Students can either just guess at answers, or grab their favorite math crutch- the calculator. Many of my students have very low frustration levels when it comes to math, and once they feel they do not know how to solve a problem but have a calculator they try a different form of guessing. They take combinations of numbers and operations until the value on the calculator matches one on the test. This then becomes the answer in their mind, and I have had many students get upset when they get those questions wrong- “It’s right! The calculator gave me that answer!” I have really started to focus heavily on having students communicate the process of solving problems instead of giving me answers. Students will still try to use calculators and give me a solution, but they are starting to realize that I am having them focus on how they read problems, what information they need and what mathematical operations they need to perform.
3) Where do I need to go from here?
This is a critical question I ask myself every day, every hour and many times within those hours. I have become less focused on following a deadline on standards and have adapted my lessons to make sure I meet the needs of my students. Taking away the “deadline” pressure has allowed me to relax, promote good classroom discussions and focus on student understanding and learning versus what learning I believe I have supplied them. Formative Assessment is a huge buzzword in education, and it’s not anything new to teachers- it’s just something that many may or may not focus on. The word assessment brings formal testing to mind for many teachers, students and parents- but it is not. Questions, discussions, practice and reflections all have an important role in providing you with critical information on what your students understand and what you need to do next.