“Challenging ourselves to making these concepts more meaningful to the kids.”

Hello! For this week’s installment of Teachers of SIS, we are pleased to have math teacher Jacob Scott, here at our bayside campus. Jacob walked me through his exponential growth and exponential decay unit, how he and the science teachers collaborated together to integrate a skill set that spanned both math and the sciences.

Here are his responses to the questions regarding his lesson.

What did you want your students to know or understand?

I wanted my kids to understand exponential growth and exponential decay function work in the real world and how they correlate over into, say… science classes where they are going to use them, where they need to have that basic foundation in mathematics to be able to apply it to scientific research that they’ll be doing in there science classes.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

Kids at this age level can have a hard time seeing how math relates to the real world and those those connection to the outside, across subject as well. Really getting them to see that it’s not just a problem on the board or on the page but as something that scientists, engineers use it to solve everyday problems.  Specifically with that skill, they needed to know it in class if they’re going to look at ecosystems or looking at endangered animals and how that is affected by populations growth or  decline – so, again, how can they apply something that looks like math formula with a function in class but be a real-world problem.

How did you teach this lesson in the past?

In the past, it wasn’t in the curriculum so one thing after collaborating with the science teachers, we felt that it needed to be added in the mathematics curriculum and not just as a stand-alone unit where students might plot some numbers on graph paper but means nothing to them – so really bringing it in and challenging ourselves to making these concepts more meaningful to the kids. So right now they’re getting the foundation in Math and applying it in science because that is where that connection will be made. With grade eight, for example, we looked at other units to find other areas of overlap – what are things he (Peter) needs to teach physics or chemistry that will require a mathematical foundation.

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

As teachers, we had to be flexible to see where those areas of overlap would be…Everyone always thinks that math and science just go right together but they don’t always. Although they are very different, their skills are used across the curriculum. In other words, we had to look and shift unit so that I could help provide background knowledge that would be accessed later in Peter’s class for example.

I wanted them to have the power to take charge of their own learning!

Welcome back to another installment of TOS Rocks!

This week we have the pleasure of highlight Gina Ballesteros, who is a Learning Support teacher for the Grade 3 team at Parkside.

She found a way to empower students to practice basic skills independent by incorporating QR codes which provided customized tasks.

1. What did you want your students to know or understand?

I wanted to give students agency so they could learn how to practice on their own. Additionally, my goal was for them to build their confidence through this independent practice.

2. What skills did you want your students to gain?

Independence is the main skill I wanted them to gain.

Not to just wait for a teacher to walk them through the process, but having the power to take charge of their own learning.

As a team, we created two system which allowed them to do this.

First, we provided customized tasks where the skills could be tracked. For example, we tracked multiplication skills in mathematics.

Second, we provided tasks just for enrichment, as we found they need to be able to explore on their own as well.

3. How did you teach this lesson in the past?

Physical tools or manipulatives like flashcards and board games were used in the past.

4. How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

Due to the nature of my role as a Learning Support teacher, I am only able to see a specific group of students two to three times a week.

This makes it challenging to track, identify, and support a large number of students.

“How can I best use my strengths to support the needs of language learners to access content in all areas?”

and

“How can I come in as a Learning Support teacher and produce a greater impact on all student learning?”

I am a firm believer in learning efficacy, or the ability to pool the knowledge of a group or team to maximize the output. In our case, we worked as a team and used our strengths so we could help all students learn basic skills independently

Thus, that is what I set out to do. Knowing we (Teachers, TAs, and myself) were all busy and did not have enough time to create physical manipulatives, I searched for other ways we could do this.

We live in the country of QR codes, thus I researched, tinkered, and taught myself how to use QR codes to connect websites, apps, and games to provide customized tasks.

This allowed me to organize and group all the digital resources we had organized as a team. Then, I added a QR code to specific groups of tasks, which then made it super simple for students to scan and work independently.

It has been powerful and the systems we are building are providing support to a greater number of students.

Let me know if you are interested in collaborating and learning about what we are doing, I am more than willing to share.

Resources:

Book: “Visible Learning” by John Hattie

Dives into what has the best effect on learning.

“I really wanted kids to get a better understanding of how the process of science is a human endeavor. “

What did you want your students to know or understand?

I can talk to the … scientists who discovered the atom green screening project and putting them into that…

I really wanted kids to get a better understanding of how the process of science is a human endeavor. Often we teach science devoid of any personal narrative or story as part of it – when the people that made discovery in science are some of the most fascinating and weirdest people that have ever lived.

When you start looking at the discovery of the atom it is really neat because all of the stories intertwine – so all of the people knew each other – either like it was a professor at a university and the next person who made a major discovery was their student… others were mean or subversive – trying to keep everybody else discoveries out of things.

Student don’t generally get that kind of an interesting story. Why not look at major scientific context through the lens of storytelling.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

So …I wanted to give my kids some tech skills in terms of how to do green screening, how to do filming, how to develop a monologue and techniques like using the iPad along with some choice apps. to hold and slowly scroll through your script so that you can continue to maintain eye contact with the camera. I also wanted them to get the chance to play with lighting and then I wanted them to work on there research skills and to go out and find actual data facts and information in order to build this story around a particular scientist.

How did you teach this lesson in the past?

I always looked at this lesson – the history of the atomic structure – in a creative way because like I said, it’s a fun story. So in the past, I’ve had kids look at the whole history of the development of the atomic theory and do it like a graphic novel where they went out and researched. I found it better when the students focused on one person and then talk about how their discovery changed the whole idea. I felt like that gave students a better understanding of the process of science and how it looked like in reality.

Traditionally science teachers looked at communication in science as a lab report because that was the more academic preferred way to communicate. Now there are so many new ways and style people can articulate (scientific) information to the general public. We need to arm them with a new array of skills like how to present themselves in front of a camera. Someone like Neil De Grass Tyson is a great example of someone who has a deep understanding but also the ability communicate that understanding in an engaging way. He marries both of those important aspects of communication.

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

I borrowed a lot from other people who are really good at things that they do. I use a program called the night lab timeline that I was introduced to by the IT team from UWC Singapore when they came to visit to do a thirty minute presentation. And that was one of the tools that they showed. It wasn’t until I realized that the app could also be used to harvest videos from youtube that it became integral to this project.

In short, I problem solved by reaching out to other people who had used the tools I was trying to use, I looked online for tutorial  and then talked to the students about what would make this easier or better for them.

“really trying to get to the idea that art doesn’t just happen in the art classroom … art is available to everyone and all can participate”

For today’s installment of Teacher of SIS, we are pleased to have the Bayside art department: Amy Atkinson and Alli Denson. Here are their responses to the questions regarding their project.

What did you want your students to know or understand? / Why did you do the photo exhibition

(Amy) So, uhh basically it’s not just for our students, its for everyone – teachers, the wider community… really trying to get to the idea that art doesn’t just happen in the art classroom and that art is available to everyone and all can participate – That was one of the main reasons.

(Ally) And that art is all around us. With photography specifically, we all have that at our fingertips with our smart phones. So the idea of accessibility was something we were interested in.

(Amy) And its subjective. Because the topic is very loose, students are encouraged to submit work however they interpret it. We also display the work anonymously and people vote, which reinforces the idea that it is subjective. Its not really about the “best” photo … I mean, how would we ever decide which one is the best photo.

(Ally) It’s really about why did you look twice at it. And again opening it up to wider audience.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

(Amy) The really cool thing about the contest is that opens students’ eyes to the possibility of their surrounding and what they see and how they see things so … I’ll submit a photo, you’ll submit a photo, we’ll all submit a photo of the same subject and as the contest progresses , the students will start to see subtleties, and new ideas and get the gears turning around that awareness of your surroundings.

(Ally) allowing students to reflect…I didn’t even think of that as architecture.

How did you teach this lesson in the past?

(Amy) This is our first one – I’ve been talking to some of the students and have a sense that although many are submitting, this is the type of thing that doesn’t really pick up until the third or fourth installment . It also depends on our subject choices so we will see how it goes.

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

(Amy) So, we’re becoming more creative – so first of all we split it up. Ally does the middle school- I do the high school . And then Peter has suggested new ways for us to collect images. So we’re looking to find ways to better manage that process.

I want my students to understand .. how to curate / discern what is news worthy and what is noise and also how media has evolved.

For today’s installment of Teachers of SIS, we are pleased to have Chinese instructor, Denise Wang sharing how she links language skills (listening speaking reading writing) with media literacy. Here are her responses to the questions regarding her student’s newscast project.

What did you want your students to know or understand?

I want my students to understand what news is, how to curate / discern what is news worthy and what is noise and also how media has evolved. For example the shifts from black and white newspapers, to radio and tv, and now with the internet.

Ultimately to better understand our world through the lens of news and media.

As a language instructor, I also obviously want to link language (listening speaking reading writing) but also that media literacy component that sometimes can be difficult to integrate in a language learning setting.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

Listening speaking reading writing … but in the framework of news production and broadcasting. There are also soft skills like interviewing people, transcribing that to a news report, and curation.

How did you teach this lesson in the past?

I used to organize a sabbatical course called tv news production – a week long course where students were exposed to anything from learning the essential elements of news production to the more technical aspects like shooting, editing and using visuals to better communicate a message.

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

A lot more scaffolding and practicing simple tasks like voice projection and how to pick news stories. I discovered that they do not watch /listen to the news, so finding creative ways to get them engaged and thinking of news as relevant and not just something over there.