My initial lesson, which asks students to combine like terms, was inspired by my intervention group at the end of the school year. Students taking the Algebra 2 final still had trouble understanding variables and story problems, even after they had extensive algebra practice through the course of the year. I was forced to consider, what could middle school pre-algebra teachers do to combat this confusion?
In preparation for an interview, where I was asked to teach a pre-algebra lesson, I wanted to explore this in depth. I went to the drawing board, and worked with my mom, a veteran interventionist at Stoney Creek High School, to create an activity that would introduce the concept of a variable in a different way. In this case, without realizing it, I had reached out to one of my professional learning networks. After we had the base of the lesson created, I reached out to another teacher at SCHS, to ask for feedback. Her ideas prompted me to chunk the lesson even further, and ultimately led to the lesson 1.0 I brought to MAET.
Consistently, I and my MSU undergraduate cohort utilize our Facebook page, and group messaging to brainstorm and share lesson ideas and resources. Again, without realizing the power of my own PLNs, I found upon reflecting, that I utilize my own colleagues and teacher friends on a regular basis.
Furthermore, I read roughly 5-10 articles each day as linked on Twitter. As I have built my Twitter community in these last two weeks, the variety and quality of articles have steadily increased. Organizations like TED have opened my networks even greater, because I am not only looking at education through the lens of education, but also through science, and technology. I like to utilize resources that allow me to consider my classroom and my teaching pedagogy from several different angles. I believe that my own PLNs will allow me to become a master teacher someday.
In this lesson specifically, I utilized two teachers to build the lesson. Once at MSU, I then utilized the knowledge gained from my colleagues and professors (additional PLNs) and several articles that described TPACK and UDL. Ultimately, this lesson has encountered numerous PLNs, and has gotten better with each additional branch added.
For the next revision of my lesson, I am considering how to communicate the idea of networked learning to my students. I set out to communicate to them the importance of using our online and in-person networks. After the UDL and TPACK revisions, I found that the best way to do this would involve the screencast extension piece. However I also found a way to include it without the additional tech resource.
WITHOUT iPADS: Without the screencast ability, I would encourage my students to utilize the network that exists in our building to enhance our understanding. Students would be encouraged, after participating in the shoe activity, to use the classroom, or the building, to categorize a new topic. I could model this, asking students to consider the different types of cars in the teacher parking lot, or the different types of hairstyles in the sixth grade. Students would be challenged to come up with their own categories, then would be asked to go out and solve their problem (if it was something we could accomplish during classtime). Students would be taught that a learning network includes all of the people or platforms that we might use to increase our learning.
WITH iPADS: If students create screencasts, I hope this could lead into a discussion where students determine the best use of the videos. We might first discuss putting them onto our class platform, so that all students in our room can review the topics, but I hope we could then discuss my other hours, and other teacher’s classes. I hope my students would be willing to share their material with other students at Berkshire. I also could see a conversation starting about the use of the Internet and where our video would be most useful and appropriate in a digital platform.
Since I am asking my students to use inquiry to create their own understandings of this topic, rather than modeling or showing them outside media, the networked learning possibilities are limited. I would encourage students to brainstorm ways that I could share their findings, and that they can share their findings, in this digital age.
See the Updated Lesson HERE! (Pink text signifies changes due to networked learning)