Wednesday, August 7, 2013
I've been looking at how and what I teach for years now. I make changes each and every year, hoping to find a couple new lessons which catch fire and keep the kids interested. This next year will be no exception, and I'm sure neither will next, or the one after that or the 10 which follow those.
I've been reviewing notes, articles and books this summer. One idea I was pretty hot on last year (and sadly I will admit I'm not sure I did any better this past year than I had done previously) is SLOT, or Sustained Learning Over Time. In fact I will admit that with the exception of while I was working on my required lessons for SIOP training (sorry I don't recall the words, suffice it to say it was all about teaching to English Language Learners or Students with limited English skills) I can't recall specifically writing lessons with SLOT in mind .
SLOT is all about getting students to retain knowledge by causing them to practice those skills repeatedly over a longer period of time. In fact according to SLOT you shouldn't assess a student on a given topic until they have had over 20 opportunities to practice that topic. (which originally seemed impractical to me as I have many, many topics to cover in my 180 days and I can't start them all 20 days prior to wanting to asses them on that topic).
The concept seems sound, though.
I have a plan for warm-up activities this next school year. Some of the activities I plan on using are 101qs.com, estimation180.com and visualpatterns.org (there are others). It is the last of these that I am hoping to start off using pretty heavily. I want my students to have looked at and thought about many, many linear, exponential and other patterns well before I get to sequences and series (my 3rd unit). In fact, before I start that unit, I want my students to have been pre-taught the concept of sequences enough times that there should be little confusion once I start that unit.
I have decided I don't do enough pre-teaching. I know that I am more likely to be interested in a subject if I've already thought about it. I know that pre-teaching in this way will help seed my students with prior knowledge and hopefully instill some curiosity about what else can be done with these topics.
I'm not 100% sure how to pre-teach all the units I am required to teach, but I do have some ideas about a couple of them. Visualpatterns.org should help with the sequences and series AND Exponential/Logarithmic units. Desmos.com should help with all the transformations to functions which pop-up in many of the units. I also have a few activities I am planning on doing outside of their appropriate units so that the seeds of these other mathematical topics are planted well before I need them.
Can I afford the time to pre-teach some of these topics? I am hopeful that by doing the pre-teaching that the actual teaching of these topics will go easier and this will allow me to make up some time. I know I'd rather use the math to interest them when it isn't being assessed to allow me to harvest that interest later when an assessment is looming.