Looking Back “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” by Albert Einstein is, in my opinion, a good quote to summarize experiences with MSU- Wipro STEM & Leadership Fellows. During the two weeks of face-to-face sessions and following month of reading and working on my assignments my intellectual experiences were amazing. I have learned and applied so many skills related to use of technology, pedagogy and content matter. First of all, I was taught how to use Google Drawing to create posters, memes, pictures and video. For the first time I used my imagination, esthetic views along with technology to produce artifacts associated to my professional life; teaching, studying and learning. I have also designed my own website which continues to become more complete with written and constructed pieces. Secondly, I have been exposed to pedagogical literature and instructional materials that can be used in teaching and creating hands-on activities in mathematics and science classrooms. For example, I found Strawbees as a potential application that I would utilize in my classroom while teaching and reviewing 3-D geometric figures and usage of volume and surface area formulas. Additionally, I found during our visit to the Museum of Science & Industry along with kinesthetic activities provided by the Second City that there are great tools to expand teaching beyond the classroom and traditional methods. Another way I have benefited and learned is through accumulating different strategies, methods of teaching and learning along with being exposed to various teaching/learning environments, settings, grouping and processes of presentations. I feel like the entire face-to-face part of the program was designed to model the flip and blended teaching style that combines traditional instructional strategies like reading outside the classroom and discussion in the classroom with modern and more technologically advanced approaches like creating videos or storify. Participating in face-to-face summer sessions was a mind blowing experience. I was challenged technologically as well as pedagogically. Full engagement in everyday activities was enforced and encouraged. I was fascinated with multimodal approaches to teaching and learning that I plan to use in my own classroom. I had to step out of my comfort zone; when I presented “My Amazing Teaching Moment” in front of my colleagues, specifically when acted out “one day” of the summer sessions or recorded “Tinker Tale 1.”
Looking Forward This summer’s experience will influence me in the future in my professional and personal life. I became more confident in using and applying various technologies which are indispensible parts of everyday life as well as in my teaching career. Moreover, I am less afraid of sharing opinions or speaking up publically because of the encouraging and complimentary environment. Beyond everything, this summer’s experience will change my view on teaching and learning along with my teaching approaches. I can see now that teaching mathematics is not only about basic and procedural skills. I can also teach my students to create, explore and share their understanding with others. In addition, I should inspire them to use their imagination, to use different points of view and cultural or esthetics backgrounds. Students’ reflections and creativity will be critical portions of my teaching, learning and assessment. I will bring to my classroom the “big idea” that mathematics can be seen and applied almost everywhere in real world. Furthermore, I will set up a learning environment where students will be able to create using their imagination, explore applications of mathematics with hands-on activities and share their understanding of mathematical concepts within the groups as well as the rest of classmates and school community. While preparing my classroom instructional strategies and activities, I will be more mindful about students’ interest and multimodal approaches utilized during the teaching, studying, learning and assessment. For example, students will create Wonders of the World presentations which will indicate their cross-disciplinary interests along with mathematical skills and technological advancements. I will work hard to enhance students’ engagements and understanding throughout preparation of activities which illustrate real world applications of mathematics and resolve mysteries of mathematics. Applying backwards design, self-evaluation/reflection in the beginning and the end of the unit along with performance task types of assessment will improve students’ metacognitive and critical thinking skills. In addition to all technology and applications that I have been using so far in my classroom, I will try to incorporate some artistic and esthetics strategies by creating posters or videos. General Instructions The role of a teacher in the XXI century classroom changed dramatically due to technological expansion to and within societies. Traditional teaching and learning when teachers possess all knowledge and authority to teach is already ancient. Nowadays, teachers need to be mentors, facilitators of methods to finding information along with being renaissance types of knowledge holders. TPACK framework serves as a model for a modern approach to teaching. It is a very vigorous and challenging archetype which requires deep technological, pedagogical and content knowledge on the teachers’ side. One of the most important functions of the TPACK framework is repurposing technological gadgets used by students in everyday lives for educational tools which improve students’ participation in the educational processes. While teaching mathematics, teachers have to have cross-disciplinary and multimodal approaches to make learning interesting, engaging, meaningful and enhancing deeper understanding. For example, while teaching for understanding we have in mind transferring acquired knowledge into new situations which was not taught before. This process requires a full unfolding of Bloom’s Taxonomy; students are expected to possess low levels of understanding and applying knowledge along with skills of analysis, evaluation and synthesis which lead to creating new perspectives and new problems.Since our general teaching goal changed from knowing and applying basic skills towards deeper understanding and application, student assessment evolved from multiple choice types of questions into performance tasks, rubrics and criteria-related guidelines. Another aspect of modern teaching and learning is “knowledge that sticks,” that is, increasing students’ engagement. While creating classroom activities we need to consider six traits that make the activity more memorable; choosing the core of the content, present it in the unexpected situation which is credible, emotional and concrete as well as offer the core concept in the story type of problem. In addition, modern creative teachers connect classroom activities with their subjects and fields of expertise related to personal interests and hobbies. Lessons and teaching approaches are linked to the real world, for example; finding mathematics or particular skill(s) in events or contexts of everyday life which utilize students’ prior knowledge and understanding of the world. Modern employers and businesses value collaboration and teamwork skills, so our classrooms instructional strategies include activities that allow student collaboration, sharing ideas and developing creative minds through individual and group works. Lastly, teachers always need to keep in mind that the future of their students and the society depend on their teaching efforts and skills.
References: Learning from Creative Teachers by Danah Henriksen and Punya Mishra. Too Cool for School? No Way by Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler. Understanding by Design, Expended 2nd Edition. Chapter 2. Understanding Understanding by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. Teaching that Sticks by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.