Math Teacher in English Class #PGES

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Thursday morning shortly before 11 a.m. I opened the door and walked in.  Music, magazines, paper, gluesticks, scissors, chattering, twisted desks, scraps on the floor…engaged students.

I had the opportunity to observe one of the most passionate teachers in our building.  The room, when no students are present, is always organized, neat-but today, it was not. 

I could see and hear thinking going on.  The music playing in the background was from a current playlist-students were singing along as they worked.  They were sharing examples from magazines, asking one another’s opinion as searched for illustrations of their vocabulary from the day prior.  They were comfortable asking their teacher, as well.  The final product, a collage of pictures displaying things like framing, lighting, angles, 2-shot, close-up, and several other terms from cinematography. 

Students will eventually use this box of tools when creating story boards.  Who knew there were so many different aspects of things to consider?

As the timer went off, students quickly wrapped up this task, cleaning their work areas as they transitioned to the next activity…a commercial for Volkswagen Passatt (sp?). 

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Students turned to their Springboard books, kept their notes from the previous day close by and began watching. I believe the teacher said they would view it 6 times.  First viewing was with no sound.  They were asked to clap each time the camera shot changed…wow, like 25 times in a 60 second commercial?  As they watched it again, the teacher paused, allowing students to suggest the type of shot/composition used.  They would repeatedly watch the commercial, each time focusing on a different feature. 

I loved the interaction students were getting with the concepts-searching for examples-no copy the definitions out of the book.  It was -here’s the definition, show me an example.  First, in print, then, in film. 

I am wondering, how can I take this idea and make it work in math class.  If I have a set of examples of graphs, my goal is to look at basic function transformations- first allowing students to do an open sort, discussing why they chose each sort.  Then defining a charachteristic and they decide which graphs illustrate that key feature.  I believe this may work.

It was a pleasure to be in this classroom.  Though I knew this teacher was fantastic, I had never observed them before.  They interacted with the students, they were encouraging, they were excited about what they were sharing, the students interacted with one-another and the content.

I am a peer observer as part of our initial implementation of PGES-Professional Growth Effectiveness System-in Kentucky.  The idea is, you work with a peer, observing each other, scripting part of a learning experience, sharing what you saw…an extra pair of eyes.  The teacher then reflects, analyzing your notes to determine areas for improvement.  You are there to support, be a soundboard.  The next mini observation can look for specific things the teacher has tried to improve and become more effective.  Again, only an extra set of eyes, nothing evaluative.  I am not even supposed to offer opinions or suggestions unless they request it.  The overall idea is to help the teacher make desired improvements before the administrator conducts their observations.

This system is based on the Danielson Framework.  Our focus as peer observers is on domians 2 & 3 – classroom learning environment and instruction.  I look forward to more observations because I have always said, our best resources are other educators.

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