Final Summary of ECMP 455

Well it’s hear, my last post for ECMP 455. I am extremely grateful for this course and all that it has taught me. Technology scares me and I do not think that will ever change. However, this course did ease some of my discomfort and I do see the value in using technology. Now rather than yammer on about everything I learned, I’ll instead show with an awesome video that my classmates and I made about our learning. Enjoy!

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Summary of Learning Project

When I first set out with my learning project I had expected that it would take me a long time to complete even one project, but this was the type of homework that I thoroughly enjoyed. From January until the end of March I stitched away at five projects and for the most part I am pleased with all of them! I learned three different stitches throughout this course and I would say that I have mastered none of them! But I had fun while doing so and I’d say my projects turned out not bad. By browsing various websites, Pinterest pages, Youtube channels, and asking my grandma for help I am confident in saying that I will be taking this learning project one step further and continuing it for probably the rest of my life!

Thanks for sharing this journey with me and I hope that I maybe taught somebody else something!


Photo Credit: jiva via Compfight cc

Cozy Hooks

I was fortunate enough to get all of my grandma’s hooks from her, but in doing so I was given them in a plastic bag. Now I’m not complaining, I was grateful to get the hooks, but some people thought that that was not an appropriate way to carry my hooks around. So once again I headed to Pinterest  and found a pattern for a crochet hook holder that I thought would work for me using the stitches I recently learned to help me.

This pattern seemed somewhat simple to me, I just had to focus on my counting and make sure I was doing the appropriate amount of stitches for each row (easier said than done). The end goal I had in mind was to make 10 hook holders so that my hooks were nice and cozy rather than smushed together in the plastic bag.

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As I began to stitch I thought to myself that this was looking pretty good. I was counting, each row seemed to always 30 stitches, yet my hook holders were not looking even and I could not figure out why. Rather than start over, I decided to keep moving on. I finished one side of the pouch and I was just not satisfied with the fact that all five of my holders were not even to each other.

039I realized that every time I chained two, to turn for the next row I was starting in the wrong stitch each time, so my counting was wrong and each pocket for the hooks was a different size because I was inconsistent with where I started each row. It looked so messy and uneven that I hate to admit that I gave up with this project. I felt that I had gone too far to start over with this project and I did not want to continue on with my uneven rows.

This project emphasized that I still need to work on my gauge, my stitch counting, and knowing where to start each row when it comes to doing new stitches in each row. So for now, this is what I ended up with, some day I will give it a go again, but for right now, I am satisfied with my hooks remaining in their plastic bag.

 

Teaching Mathematics in a Rural Community

Yesterday was my turn to do my presentation and I chose to present on teaching mathematics in a rural community because that is where I want to teach, so I figured I better look into what I was getting myself involved in. I created a Prezi to go along with my presentation (and to keep me on track). I didn’t follow a script, but rather had a discussion about each point, so I will briefly discuss them and what I said.

What classifies a town as rural? 

According to some of the research I did, a community is considered rural if it has a population of less than 2500 people in it.

How does a rural school differ from an urban school?

There are several reasons for how the two differ, but the ones that I found suitable to this presentation were: urban schools are seen as communities inside communities, rather than a rural school where it is involved with the community as a whole. Urban schools have departments, like Enlish and Math departments, where rural schools may only have 1 or 2 math teachers in it.

Impact on rural students’ achievement.

Instructional Resources:  Rural schools typically lack the facilities, physical plants, course materials, and educational programs that typify larger, more resource-rich districts. Sparse population bases often result in geographic and cultural isolation, limited economic development, and restricted educational opportunities (McCombs & Bansberg, 1997). One item from the NAEP teacher surveys, common to the 1992 and 1996 data, was used to measure instructional resources.

– Professional Training: In the context of education reform, many have expressed concern about the quality of teachers in rural schools. One index of quality is the amount of preparation. As widely believed, the Schools and Staffing Survey confirmed that rural teachers generally have less professional preparation (Stem, 1994). Part of the difference may be attributable to rural teachers’ relative youth. Another contributing factor may be the limited access rural teachers in more isolated settings have to continuing education and professional development opportunities. Eleven items from the NAEP teacher surveys, common to the 1992 and 1996 data, were used to measure professional training.

– Algebra Offering: A recent analysis of NAEP data revealed extremely low rates in the availability of advanced courses for 12th graders in schools located in nonmetropolitan counties compared to metropolitan counties (Greenberg; Swaim, & Teixiera, 1992). While the gap may be smaller at the middle grades level with less variability of course offerings, we note that the offering of algebra to eighth grade students for high school credit varies from school to school. One item from the NAEP school principal surveys, common to the 1992 and 1996 data, was used to measure algebra offering.

– Progressive Instruction: Student-centered instructional practices with a strong emphasis on higher-order thinking skills can be considered positive signs of the implementation of many recent recommendations for the reform of teaching mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1991). Rural schools enable low student-teacher ratios, individualized instruction and attention, and cooperative learning opportunities. The Schools and Staffing Survey data show that rural teachers exercise considerable control over instructional processes in their classrooms (Stem, 1994). Ten items (with four common items) from the 1992 and 1996 NAEP teacher surveys were used to measure progressive instruction.

– Safe/Orderly Climate: The resource limitations rural schools often experience are somehow compensated for by the supportive ethos found in smaller communities and their generally smaller schools (Stem, 1994). According to the Schools and Staffing Survey, rural teachers were less likely than teachers in both urban and suburban schools to consider teacher absenteeism as a problem. Likewise, the survey reported that rural students experience safer learning environments and behave much more appropriately than their urban counterparts in terms of school attendance, classroom behavior, and alcohol and drug use. Seven items (with five common items) from the 1992 and 1996 NAEP school principal survey were used to measure safe/orderly climate.

– Collective Support: Many researchers have found that effective schools are defined in terms of a collective identity (Lee, Bryk, & Smith, 1993; Louis & Kruse, 1995; Newmann & Wehlage, 1995). Rural schools feature close relationships and ties to the community, and strong staff commitment (DeYoung, 1987; McREL, 1990). These conditions are more likely to bring about collective support for student learning. Seven items (with four common items) from the 1992 and 1996 NAEP school principal survey were used to measure collective support.

http://sites.psu.edu/jrre/wp-content/uploads/sites/6347/2014/02/16-3_2.pdf

Struggles in the classroom:

Curriculum Options.

Within a rural community not all courses are offered to students. Some courses can be taken through correspondence or at a different school where students get bused to.

Teaching 5 different courses in one period.

My cousin who teaches math in a small community teaches Workplace and Apprenticeship 10, Workplace and Apprenticeship 20, Foundations and Pre-Calculus 10, and Math 21 all within one classroom, in one period each day. This is not uncommon for some schools in smaller communities where the numbers just do not allow each of the courses to be taught on their own.

Not all math strands are offered to students.

Because numbers are scarce in some schools, there is just not enough teachers to all of the strands. If a student wants to take a course that is not offered, they are left to either do it through correspondence, or they may be able to take it the next year if it is allowed.

Teaching out of your subject area.

The shortage of teachers often leaves some courses left to be taught by teachers who are not as familiar with that particular curriculum. Going back to my cousin, she is trained in Physical Education and Business Education, yet at this particular time in her career she is teaching math, English, and physical education. That is not to say that teachers that are teaching out of their area will not do a good job at it, it just becomes a lot of work for them to have to teach themselves a whole new curriculum on their own.

Attracting and retaining teachers.

Rural communities struggle in keeping teachers within their schools. Often times teachers go there to get their foot in the door and then leave if an opening comes up in an area where they’d rather be. Teacher turnaround is all too common and students are left with inconsistent practices and procedures. Communities do their best in providing activities outside of school to encourage people to move there and stay within the community.

Benefits to teaching in a rural community:

More one-to-one teaching with students.

Though teaching in a rural community does have its drawbacks, there are some benefits to teaching there. Because numbers are small within schools, you are allotted more time to work one-to-one with students and really get to know their strengths and challenges. This can become an extremely enriching experience for both the student and the teacher.

The community fully supports what the school is doing.

One of the amazing things that comes out of being from a rural community is that the community is always supporting you in whatever it is you are doing, whether it be fundraisers, math nights, volunteers, etc. Having the support of the community can take off some of the workload from teachers and staff and let them focus on educating the students.

Conflicts with research:

Achievement in rural vs. urban.

My research came from both Canada and the United States and something that shocked me was that rural students in Canada did significantly poorer on national tests in mathematics, but in the United State rural students did relatively the same or better than urban students on the tests. This left me questioning what are they doing differently in rural communities in the states than in Canada that is allowing the students to achieve higher in the scores.

This was the extent of my presentation, followed with some meaningful discussion in the class about some of my classmates experiences and opinions. If you have any questions or answers to some of my questions feel free to comment!

Here are my resources that I used for this presentation: Teaching in Rural Areas Resources

Finland

Lately I have been hearing a lot about Finland, its education system, and how amazing it is. I used to nod along with people pretending I knew what they talk were talking about, but it wasn’t until I read an article in my EMTH 450 class and had one of my fellow classmates give a presentation on Finland that I feel as though I now have some understanding of what everyone is hyping about.

The article we read was called “Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with ‘topics’ as country reforms its education system“. I’m not going to summarize but it is a worthwhile read if you’re interested in the topic.

Now the presentation that my classmate gave, gave me a few more insights into why Finland’s education system is so working so well. The main reason that stood out to me was that all teachers in Finland need their Masters degree in order to teach. The reason that teachers must have these is because it raises self- confidence in them and they are seen as more of a professional than here in Canada. The field of education is a lot harder to get into, only 10% of people that apply will get accepted. During their time in school they complete a 35 week internship rather than what we have down here, which breaks our “internships” into pieces. Once someone becomes a teacher in Finland, they have no obligation to do professional development like do here. I have always thought of teachers as professionals, but that is because I wanted to become one and I grew up with them and admired what they did. But to hear how other people don’t always see teachers as professionals is sort of discouraging sometimes, so it was nice to hear how valued teachers are over there. Maybe that is a reason why Finland is so successful, their main educators are valued in a way that not a lot of us know of.

But that is just a piece of what I have learned so far from about Finland and why it is successful. If you have more information that you think would enhance my knowledge even more, feel free to share it with me!

 

 

 

 

 

WTF?

While browsing through some math blogs I came across a post by Dan Meyer that sort of sparked my interest, the post was called WTF Math Problems. In it Dan talks about the problems that arise in math classrooms that leave the students thinking “WTF”? I found this article particular interesting right now because in my EMTH 450 class we are talking about issues that arise in mathematics and Mark Johnson did his on student motivation in the classroom. The reason I correlate these two together is that fact that I think too many times teachers look past these WTF moments because they were not what they planned for their lesson and they may not take them to where they want the lesson to end up. But I say embrace these moments, because like Dan says in the post, these moments lead to some of the greatest discoveries in mathematics. From dividing by zero, to finding imaginary numbers.

These moments of WTF should be happening more in our classroom, it could maybe start to lead to more interest within mathematics classrooms. Students may start to have a curiosity about why something became the way it is, rather than just memorizing a formula to get the right answer. We don’t get taught in University on how to respond to these types of moments, and I don’t think that is a bad thing. These moments need to come natural, the discovery and the WTF moments are what we as math teachers should be striving for!

I really enjoyed reading this article, I love Dan Meyer’s stuff and I think he is someone to look up to as a math teacher!


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A New Spin On A Headband

So I decided to try something crazy this weekend and actually follow a pattern to make a headband. I tried to find one that was not too complicated, but still allowed me to use the new stitches that I had learned from my previous blog post. I found a pattern that looked similar to the first headband I made, but it used the half double stitch in a unique way. Everything circular that I have made up until this point, was just made linearly and then I attached the two ends together and turned the piece inside out so you could not see the seam showing. However, with this headband pattern it wanted you to stitch in a round. So instead of having to chain one at the end of each row I just continued on with what I was doing.

I found two things challenging with this piece. The first was keeping track of what row I was on. The pattern had me do 10 rows to build the headband up and I should have been counting with each row, but I would get distracted, lose count, and so I would just estimate what number I was on. The other thing that I found troubling with this piece was attaching the bow piece to the headband. The bow piece was only 12 chains long and 6 rows wide so it was really small and hard to stitch together while still holding the headband in place so that it looked good. That being said, I also really enjoyed following a pattern. It was nice to be able to check off as I stitched and have definite end goal in mind as I worked through the pattern.

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Much like my other pieces I had to refer to some extra help to point me in the right direction. I could not quite remember how to do a half-double stitch so I referred back to my blog post of how I created it along with the pictures of Google that I had inserted in there. To finish off my headband I had forgotten what that looked like so I went to my favourite crochet Youtube channel, “The Crochet Guru” and scrolled through her videos until I found how to finish off your piece. I skipped to the near end where she showed what to do and once I seen it, it all came back to me.

I personally think that this headband turned out better than the one I did “free-style”. My next project is going to be a hook pouch, because apparently people don’t think my plastic bag looks professional enough!

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