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I observed my cooperating teacher teaching his Honors Math III course.

The
lesson I observed was on complex numbers, as well as some review of completing the
square. The students in the class were very engaged and respectful throughout the lesson.
Most of them seemed genuinely interested in the information. Whenever the teacher
would ask for volunteers to answer a question, there were many eager hands raised. As I
walked around the room, most of the students were taking notes and actively following
along with the lecture. During instruction, the teacher would also call on students to
answer questions at random- this made a couple students admit to him that they did not
understand the material. He then walked those students through the problem step by step.
Additionally, the teacher used the Fist to Five technique weve talked about in class to
assess student learning throughout the instruction. Fist to Five is when the instructor
has the students hold up five fingers if they completely understand, and zero fingers if
they dont get it at all. This is a type of self-assessment for the student, which Fair Isnt
Always Equal says are beneficial for students in terms of self-reflection and growth
(Wormeli p. 51-53). The teacher wrote additional practice problems on the board if most
students held up their fists. He knew who got it, or didnt get it, simply by scanning
the room. Although the students did not ask many questions during instruction, once they
broke off into independent work they asked the teacher questions as they worked.
My cooperating teacher started the lesson with a real-life question for the
students. He let the students do a Think-Pair-Share for this: first they thought on their
own, then shared with their partner, and then he brought the class together for a class
discussion. Think-Pair-Share is a type of formative assessment that teachers can use
before, during, or after instruction. By having the students first think independently, it

helps them control the urge to shout out the first thing that comes to mind. Pairing up the
students allows them to get different viewpoints, and possibly change their answers.
Finally, the students share their discussion with the class. Teachers can use this for
formative assessment by walking around and listening to the individual discussions, as
well as the class discussion (West Virginia Department of Education). This was a good
attention-grabber to get the learners engaged at the beginning of class. Additionally, it
showed them how math relates to their lives outside of the classroom.
My cooperating teacher also called on students to answer questions, which forced
the students to actively pay attention as well as work the problems on the board on their
own papers, in case they were called on to share their answer. This was much like the
Cold Calling video, where students were asked math questions at random to promote
engaged participation (Uncommon Schools). At the beginning of class, he also asked
students to raise their hands if they did not understand the material from last class
(completing the square). A majority of students raised their hands, so he altered his
lesson plan and did a review of completing the square before he began the new days
lesson.

He uses a lot of technology in his classroom; the bulk of the material came from

a video about complex numbers. His students had guided notes that he prepared to
follow along with during the video. After the video, he did his own summary of the
information followed by guided practice. He closed the lesson by letting the students
work on their Khan Academy homework related to complex numbers, for independent
practice. This is when most of the students started to ask questions, because once they
were doing the problems on their own they struggled more. Khan Academy allowed the
instructor to see which students were logged in, so he was able to make sure all the

students were actually working on the given assignment- something I think is valuable.
He grades his students on participation, so logging onto Khan Academy during the
assigned time is part of their grade. Fair Isnt Always Equal talks about grading
participation, and how this holds students accountable (Wormeli, p. 105). By checking to
see if the students were logged in, he was making sure his students were productive
during that time.
I thought this was a very strong lesson, because the students all seemed to learn
and were doing independent practice with questions by the end of the period. But,
something I noticed was that a lot of students were completely disengaged and playing on
their cell phones during instruction. This is why when describing the students I said
most of, in the previous paragraphs. A few students were completely entranced by their
cell phones; one of them did not even have paper or a pencil out.

I think the instructor

should have addressed this and made sure all students were engaged, rather than not
saying anything to these students at all.
My cooperating teacher has the desks set up into tables, which was good when the
students were working on their own. They could ask each other questions rather than
raising their hands and waiting until the teacher could help them. Also, in my experience,
explaining something to someone else always helped to solidify the concept for myself.
Having the students set up in groups, in my opinion, is beneficial for the students and the
teacher.

Sources
Wormeli, R. (2006). Fair Isn't Always Equal: Assessing and Grading in the Differentiated
Classroom. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

West Virginia Department of Education. Formative Assessment. Retrieved from


https://wvde.state.wv.us/strategybank/Think-Pair-Share.html

Cold Calling 1 [Video file]. (2010, March 4). Uncommon Schools. In Youtube. Retrieved
from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioLDgaA5Fqw