Try Something New

So another professional development training comes and goes… What do you do with the information presented?  Are the handouts tossed into a basket on your desk only to be buried under more forgotten papers?  Do you think about using the strategies discussed, but then quickly forget the next day when the teaching life consumes you?  Do you plan a lesson that very night, excited to try something new?  At every PD I attend, I walk away with something new.  An old strategy I had forgotten… An old strategy with a new twist… A new approach or way of thinking…  An inspiring speaker or way of presenting… No matter what PD I attend, I walk away a little better for it, my teaching energy restored and my mind swirling with future lessons.

Imagine my delight when I received an email this past Sunday night from Diana De La Maza inviting me in to see her Algebra 1B class the very next day!  The lesson, she wrote, would cover the Reading 7 Anchor Standard Eunice Hong presented at our last PD day. Reading 7 in math!  Thank you, professional development!

Here is a look at Reading 7:  Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Eunice discussed the five reading skills to survive today’s technological world:

1. Identify the essential question.
2. Locate information.
3. Analyze information.
4. Synthesize information.
5. Communicate information.
As you read about Diana’s lesson, see if you can identify these five reading skills in action.

Diana used Reading 7 to introduce quadratic equations.  She explained that they need to explore this new concept.  Their essential questions became: What are quadratic equations?  How do we graph them?  When are quadratic equations used in the real world?  Students formed collaborative groups of four and each student had a Chromebook to use to locate the necessary information.  The handout, as you can see below, outlines the four sources the students will analyze together.

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She began by showing the class the first video about quadratic equations and parabolas in the real world.  They watched as a whole group and then Diana instructed them to discuss their findings.  Of course, some students may be ready to write individually at this point. Others, however, need to hear ideas and explore them verbally before they engage in writing.  The result of this collaboration time is shared knowledge.  After the discussion all of the students write their new understanding of the topic on their handouts.  One student in the group is the reporter and he/she is responsible for capturing all of the shared understanding on the paper for later evaluation. Once they have completed the discussion and writing regarding the first source, they move on the Source 2, a diagram.

Students engaged in an analysis of the diagram and discussed the material.  I overheard one group making connections to the video as they compared the shape on the page to the shape of a light in the video (synthesis success!).  Usually I try not to interfere with the lesson, but I couldn’t help it…I smiled at the girls and told them they were doing a great job!

Diana circulated the room and as students moved on the the next source (where they interacted with graphs!) she reminded the whole group that she should not see pronouns on their papers.  “They,” she said, “Who are they?  Remember to use specific nouns and math language.”  When English and math collide…my heart sings!

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After all of the sources have been analyzed and discussed, the students work together to write a claim about their new understanding of the topic.  Diana can now use these group responses as exit cards.  These responses illustrate their understanding so far, strengths and weaknesses with the concepts,  and target areas for instruction. This information is key and will help inform instruction as Diana plans her next step in the lesson.  No need to waste time on concepts students clearly understand.  Likewise, you don’t want to move forward if there are basics students simply do not understand.  Our awesome ASB Director just successfully conducted a formative assessment (an informal assessment used to inform instruction) using Reading 7!  Read more about formative assessment here!

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Thank you, Diana, for sharing your teaching life with us!  Professional development should inspire us and push us to try new approaches with our students.  Seeing the results of PD in an effective, engaging lesson (utilizing technology, no less!) has inspired me to focus my attention to Reading 7, as well.  And I can’t wait to try something new!  What new things will you try in the coming weeks?  Share your Reading 7 lessons with me…even if you have already completed the lesson, I want to hear about it!

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