Week 6: Reflection

Essential Question: What are the challenges in shifting content from “what” to “where” and “how”?

I was able to resonate with what Jim said in his blog about “drill and kill” exercises in mathematics.  The idea is that students need the fundamentals in order to increase their ability to progress through the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  There is some benefit to doing some “what”content, but our ultimate goal is to achieve those higher levels.  In Josie’s blog, she mentioned that teachers need to follow some advice about their class lessons, one of which was to minimize class lectures.  It’s really difficult to minimize lecture in high school mathematics.  There is so much content that needs to be shared that is basically new to them.  I teach Statistics and AP Statistics.  My students have never learned about statistical content like sampling distributions, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, and advanced probability.  The text I use is great.  It introduces these topics with the idea of building the knowledge through activity, simulations, questioning, and concept development.  Although I don’t consider it “lecture” it is really giving students information.  One pedagogy that would alleviate lecture time in class is to use a flipped class model, which would put more pressure to students outside of class time to “learn” the material and teachers can focus on assisting students with difficulties.  The students here at my school are already “tapped out” with so many activities, chores, commitments, that it would be very difficult to implement flipped classroom, even though I think it is an awesome pedagogy.

I also liked Natalie’s blog about changing state curriculum.  If we are to make any significant changes in education, instead of coming from the “bottom” (teachers), it should really come from the “top”.  Not to minimize the great efforts teachers currently make in their classrooms on a daily basis, but if we want to “over haul” education, it needs to happen at the administrative level.  Not that curriculum doesn’t put more emphasis on high levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, by when the dust settles and clears, state tests merely assess on low levels of Bloom.  I think they do this because it’s easier to distinguish a right/wrong answer at low levels, than with high levels, where it puts more pressure on graders to find out if students are giving valid arguments, explanations, or justifications.  In addition, if we assess on high levels of Bloom, students might be more ill-prepared to answer those sort of questions with high success than the other type.

It was great to read about Larissa’s enthusiasm about our new math curriculum that emphasizes this new approach in her comment on my blog.  We need more math teachers like this!  She admitted that she may be the only one, in her building, that likes this, which is unfortunate.  Elementary math teachers have a great effect on young math learners, and if the teacher doesn’t like the “new” math, then the students will take notice and may be negatively influenced.  There have been studies in the past that correlated teachers negative view of math to students view of math, without the teacher making a concerted effort.  In other words, kids know if you like math or not!

I hope we can all move towards making learning more than just “what”!

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