H4 – Honor Family & Community Involvement

H4 – Honor family/community involvement in the learning process. Teacher candidates inform, involve, and collaborate with families/neighborhoods, and communities in each student’s educational process, including using information about student cultural identity, achievement and performance. This means that the teacher is making efforts and succeeding at communicating with parents, families, faculty and students outside of the classroom. To extend the learning process outside of the classroom, I am taking advantage of students access to technology. I have created and maintained a simple, yet content rich website (http://www.mrgermanis.com/precalculus/) which provides students with access to all class materials, handouts, notes, journal reflections and homework; all at their convenience. Additionally, through he online grading system, I regularly publish accurate records of students performance and comment when appropriate for reasons of student performance. Finally, I send email communication to some parents for students who standout in class as well as students who are struggling to make efforts towards classroom goals (i.e. they do not attempt homework which results in poor assessment performance).

All of these communication efforts provide resources for parents to assist in the students learning. Absent students are able to learn at home with a simple internet connection (even phone internet connections are sufficient). All classroom activities and links to those activities are published up-to one week early to provide advanced access. Additionally, parents and students can see upcoming assignments, test dates and quiz dates and the content of those assessments. Lines of communication are open and our teaching process is transparent to everyone involved. The administration can easily see what is happening daily in all of my classes by looking at our website. More communication is provided with parent emails, this alerts parents to actions to improve student performance in the class. Here is an example of an email sent to parents of students who are at risk for failing the course and steps to improving students performance:

I am writing to warn that low scores on the remaining assessments will likely result in a failing grade for the semester.  Please consider

  • Perform “test corrections” on Test 4.1—there are two opportunities tomorrow.
  • Complete all homework.
  • Work extra problems in areas of weakness.
  • Come in for help on concepts that are still unclear.
  • Prepare for the semester final exams. Optimize JR scores by writing full and complete responses.
  • Track progress on Illuminate.
  • Perform VERY WELL on the semester finals.

As always, all class information (activities, homework, content of tests, etc.) is on the class Website

– Mr. Germanis

By creating an open and public forum for sharing information about what happens in my classroom, I am learning to keep myself accountable for the work that happens within the classroom. Since parents, students, administrators and the community members can observe my lesson plans on my website, I am encouraged to prepare lessons more carefully and plan my instruction better. My website should make sense to someone who is not in my class and the classroom experience should enhance the learning. In communicating with parents, I have learned that they will only help with their students learning process if I provide specific tools to assist their student. My letter provides specific instructions for parents to help their student. I remind them of grades online, encourage parents to help their students prepare for assessments and help students make time to attend test correction sessions. One of the great joys I have is informing parents of the good things their students are doing. From these emails, I have experienced openness and have a chance to communicate with parents the good things their students are doing, the responses warm my heart and help me establish a positive communication with parents about their student.

Research shows (Degner, 2013; Henderson, 2002) that students are more successful if the parents become involved at home. There is also evidence that parents are unsure of how to help their students, the role of the teacher is to help parents prepare their student for success. By providing parents with tools to help, the parent and community involvement is helping the student achieve success.

While parent communication is important, I would like to be more active in reaching out to parents in different ways. Most of my communication has been to parents though email contact. As I move into a more diverse community of students, some parents may not be best at communicating through email and I will need to communicate through phone or in-person more frequently. Additionally, I would like to be more proactive in communicating MORE good things that are happening in the classroom, especially when students are performing well. Because I have experienced positive feedback from parents after good communication, I would like to attempt to do this more frequently to establish a positive relationship with parents.

Sources:

Degner, K. M. (2013). Demography as Destiny: The Role of Parental Involvement and Mathematics Course Taking Patterns among 9th Grade Students. Current Issues in Education, 16(3).

Henderson, A., & Mapp, K. (2002). A New Wave of Evidence The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement Annual Synthesis 2002. Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 2002.

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HOPE Reflection H2 – Honor Access to Content

H2 – Honor student access to content material. Teacher candidates use multiple instructional strategies, including the principles of second language acquisition, to address student academic language ability levels and cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Many regard mathematics as a second language. Mathematica notation and use of mathematical vocabulary areLessonPlan LessonPlan 1essential to learning this topic. At the school where I work, all students are fluent english language speakers, it is unusual to encounter a language barrier in communication. Most of the language acquisition problems are through the understanding of mathematical language. To address this HOPE standard, math teachers must make the mathematical language more accessible by planning in vocabulary acquisition and teaching concepts and then naming the concepts.

The evidence I am presenting is two photocopies of some lesson plans where I am introducing two new topics. The first I am introducing students to sequences and series. In this lesson, students start with the Entry Task (ET) and are asked to complete “the list of numbers”. Since these are the teacher’s notes, the ideas are just brief notes. After the entry task, the plan is to formally put a name to “a list of numbers” which we will call a sequence. Similarly, as the lesson continues, I plan on clearly indicating and showing students the notation and the vocabulary for the notation about how to write a sequence. When I introduce combinations and permutations on the second lesson plan, I first mention “what are the possibilities of rolling two dice?” This removes technical language, the words “combination” and “permutation” and “the basic multiplication principle” are not even mentioned until the next day in class when students have acquired the conceptual understanding.

By removing the barrier of technical language students feel more comfortable with the content. The teacher will avoid the use of confusing language, but if a student uses improper language (such as the note about the difference between probability and odds in the lesson plan), the teacher will address the students misuse of language and avoid confusion of the vocabulary in the future. The HOPE standard is met because the teacher is planning for proper language acquisition and preparing students to understand content and then later naming that content when students struggle for a word to name the idea.

Over the course of my teaching internship, I have build knowledge and understanding of how to introduce new ideas to students without complicating the matter. From creating lessons that revolve around language acquisition and notation, I have learned that while I may have a deeper, technical understanding of mathematics, many students do not, and become intimidated by advanced language. By using lower level language, many of my challenged students become engaged.

Since many students are apprehensive about mathematics, this technique for introducing new ideas is helpful for students who are overwhelmed by math language and concepts. Providing instruction in an order that is helpful not to overwhelm students is important, especially in mathematics where there is a risk for pushing students away from the topic. To improve my understanding of this program standard, I will need to interact and prepare planning for more students who have different language needs, especially english language learners or those who lack significant mathematical skills. Since this HOPE standard is similar to Differentiation, I hope to address language acquisition, use of language and assisting english language learners as an improvement to my practices in differentiation.