Instruction and Pedagogy: 5, 9, 10

“Nathan used technology almost every day in lessons – lessons on SMART for math 20-2, online tutorials for physics 20, and scanning answer keys on D2L.” – PS3 Teacher Mentor

“[Nathan] implemented various instructional tools (Smartboard, software for Ti-84 calculators, illustrations, videos,games) and consistently reviewed with the class after giving students adequate time to practice on their own.” – PS3 Administrator

#5: All Students Can Learn
Know (include when and how to engage others) to identify ways students learn and their different learning styles. Respond to these differences by creating multiple paths to learning for individuals and groups, including those with special learning needs.

Of everything that should be incorporated into the classroom, I feel like openness to be flexible and accommodate students’ needs is one of the most important.

I want my students to succeed, so I make sure that they are given opportunities to work in partners or groups so that they can share ideas and knowledge. I will often specifically pair stronger and weaker students together to encourage dialogue between them. This could take the form of a permanent seating plan or in lab group design.

In the real-world, deadlines are rarely set in stone, and I try to reflect that in my classroom. It’s rare that I will actually move back a deadline for the entire class, but there have been occasions when I’ve felt that the class wasn’t ready for a particular assessment, so I took another day to review. If students approach me ahead of time with concerns about not being able to hand in something by its due date, then I will often let them have an additional day or two to complete their work without making them feel bad about it.

I also try to incorporate facilities for different types of learning in my classes. Often these will include direct instruction, inquiry-based activities (see the next section for more details), labs, computer simulations, demonstrations, games, and partner work with “elbow buddies.”

#9: Approaches to Teaching and Learning
Know a broad range of instructional strategies appropriate to your area of specialization and subject discipline taught, and know which strategies are appropriate to help different students achieve different outcomes.

pbi_picsTwo of the most valuable books that has influenced my approach to teaching is one that I’ve actually encountered even before I got into the U of L and started by education degree. Those books are called Physics by Inquiry and they describe pedagogy that came as a result of extensive research into how people learn physics best. One of my physics professors at the University of Calgary taught using these methods and it’s with his help that I was able to start doing some of my own work inspired by this text.

The premise of my approach is to have students asking the questions themselves and then finding their own answers. This gets the students invested in their own learning processes and also to rely and check on each other. The students work in groups on a question sheet and they must keep working together and not get ahead of or behind each other. They should check their answers with each other and will then have their answers checked by me verbally at specified checkpoints before they can move onto the next set of questions. One of the things that I’ve found useful about this approach is that I’m able to ask open-ended questions of them and they’re able to find answers that even I didn’t know. This also better opens the door to having them explore the connections between the curriculum and its applications in the real-world. Another advantage of this approach is that it heavily relies on the internet, and by leading web searches, I can help students to understand the usefulness of the internet and their phones as tools rather than just as play-things.

Here’s an example of a worksheet that I prepared for my Physics 20 class in Fall 2015: 
Power Notes

#10: Technology and Teaching
Know how to use and engage students in using these technologies to present and deliver content, communicate effectively with other, find and secure information, research word process, manage information, and keep records.

I’m completing my Education degree from the University of Lethbridge with a specialization in technology, so making use of technology in my classroom is something that I try to focus on doing as much as I can. Here are some of the ways that I’ve accomplished meeting this KSA:

2015-06-14 20.02.37

One of the requirements of my final practicum placement was that I do a Professional Inquiry Project, and since I also have a specialization in technology, I needed to do something that fit. Since I have a great interest in 3D printing technology, and since there is already interest at the school in investing in a 3D printer, I decided to take that route. I set up a survey on Google Forms and sent the link to the teaching staff at BGHS to fill in.

The form consisted of questions about teaching experience, focus of teaching, and emphasis of technology in the classroom. In the end, I compiled a document summarizing the survey results and submitted it to the administration staff at BGHS as well as interested teachers.

PIP Proposal
Raw PIP Survey Results

PIP Summary

One of the ways that I approach the Physics and Math classrooms is through the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained through study and use of the knowledge contained in the books Physics by Inquiry. The focus of these books is to get the students to ask the questions and then answer them themselves, having the teacher check their understanding afterwards. On the technological side of this approach, I am easily able to incorporate web searches and get students to use their phones or provided mobile devices (like iPads) to do their work. I can also integrate physics and math simulations to get students to play around with the concepts their studying and find their real-life applications.

These are some of the simulations that I’ve used by this method:
Angry Parabolas
Equation Grapher
Super Planet Crash
PHET Skatepark Basics

 

One of the tools that I found that I was surprised went over as well as it did was the website kahoot.it. It allows students to sign into a polling-style quiz where they can answer multiple choice questions with their phones. There are others out there like Socrative which I haven’t used yet, but I will never forget how amazed I was that the students could get into Kahoot as much as they did.

In my first professional semester I taught in a grade 3/4 class. In social studies we took a look at Albertan geography, and as a way to inspire the students to work to the best of their abilities, I told them that we had to act like early Canadian explorers and just like them, we were going to report back to the Queen of England… Except this time, we were going to Tweet her! So we did!