Bringing Nature To Us

#EDUC454E100 – Week 2 – May 17, 2018

We are jumping into EDUC454 with our first student-led warm-up activity. Two students brought nature to us. I much enjoyed this activity. They had prepared about 8 bags filled with natural materials. The class sub-divided themselves into groups of 2-3 and grabbed a bag. The goal was to make patterns with the materials inside the bag. Each bag had different materials. We repeated the activity 3 times and with each round, the class adapted to what was expected, took less time, and got more creative. I loved that the room smelled like the outdoors. I also appreciated our student facilitators for preparing a lesson plan to share, facilitating the activity so nimbly, and being early adopters. It’s not easy going first and they did GREAT. They set the stage for the rest of the class. Furthermore, we modelled formative feedback on the fly. We were working on creating “I can…” statements based on our learning experience from the student-led warm-up activity and self-assessing ourselves with a one-point scale rubric. We made our first steps.

The class continued with a teacher-led activity where we used iPhones to take photos of the environment around us. The learning objective was take picture of MATH. Where do you see math in your environment? Students did an excellent job taking photos of architecture, lottery and locker combinations, and people roaming around Surrey Central. What interested me was only one group of 7 went outside of the building to take photos. Another indicator that we are in a different place from Burnaby Campus where we are defining our environment, knowingly or unknowingly, as the classroom, the building, and maybe outside. We also had a very engaging and thought provoking dialogue on use of technology in the classroom. Points of view ranged from not having them to using them but let’s be aware of the self-regulation required for responsible and purposeful usage in addition to quality of teaching and student engagement. Thank you for participating.

We ended the class with our first reading summaries. The 1-2 page written summary was submitted a few days before and posted on Canvas for classmates to read. The oral summaries happen during class time and questions are created by these students and posed to our class for discussion. I loved the summaries. One student was unable to come to class due to illness. She was sooooooo responsible, that she video recorded her oral summary and emailed that to me along with her discussion questions. It was so well done and very timely with the use of technology in the classroom discussion. Students were engaged with her video clip, which was followed by our second presenter who endured some technology issues with his PowerPoint (which I managed to figure out… kind of). Nonetheless, another thoughtful oral presentation of the reading. The written summary reports out what was read and the oral summary, students can put their own spin on what was read and ask thought provoking questions. A great discussion and wonderful moment of reporting out; a nice representation of the diversity of our class.

It strange to think that I am “over planning” for my EDUC454 class but you never know how things will unfold and I like to guide my instruction based on student input and participation. We were so engaged in class discussion and our warm-up activity, for example, it’s easy for me to adapt my lesson to go with with the flow of the class without losing focus on what we are trying to achieve. That said, I missed asking the class… “What do you expect to learn from this course?” Well, I did ask that question as part of the WEEK 1 Journal, but didn’t ask for me to learn. I guess I will keep that a surprise (to me and the rest of the class) until the end of the course when student submit their weekly journal and one-page summary. Mentioning that I go with the flow, my questions about their perceived math efficacy. As seen in our last week’s journal, many of us clustered to one end of the continuum indicating that math may not be their thing.

Weekly Journal Response – Week 2

What is your perceived level of math efficacy?

I think I’m OK at math. I would put myself with the few on the continuum who were also science people. I majored in Chemistry and minored in Mathematics. I got an A/B in high school math, failed Math 100 (which totally offset my undergraduate career), and managed to get the grades I needed in my minor and required courses to get into the Faculty of Education at UBC to teach math. I like math. I enjoyed data analysis during my dissertation… a nice application of math… but I also loved teaching high school math.

What is your math story?

It started when I dropped high school calculus in my Grade 12 year. That was a BIG mistake. I come from a small town… Prince Rupert, BC… (and just celebrated my 30th reunion). Going down to UBC to do first year science was OVERWHELMING to say the least. I even remembered not being able to find the math building for my first math class. I walked across the entire campus to realize that the building was right outside my dorms. Sad. Anyway, I had a professor who made us purchase his unpublished book and about 2/3 of the class dropped out or transferred. I endured and yes… failed. It was a bit of a stab to the ego… but I did take Math 100 again as a night course and got an A.

How does math fit into your pedagogy?

Math completely fits into my pedagogy as a high school math, science, and chemistry teacher… but also as a sessional instructor at SFU teaching EDUC471 (Curriculum Development: Theory and Practice) and EDUC454 (Quantitative Approaches to Environmental Education). Teaching math has taught me so much about how students learn. Feedback is immediate. Results are visible. And, teaching math created the foundation for my career in education and educational research. Math is FUN.

I conclude my weekly journal with some excitement and joy. I can’t wait for tomorrow and next week. I have two guest speakers coming to talk about place-based learning and the walking curriculum. Dave Barnum from SFU’s Graduate Diploma Program and Dr. Gillian Judson from Imagination Education are coming… I can’t wait. It’s going to make our learning experience in EDUC454 more rich and diverse. Welcome to our class!!!

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