Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cooperative Learning

After reading the article on cooperative learning I sat back and thought about how this would work in the class of second graders that I teach. As a paraprofessional, I get the luxury of sometimes just sitting back and watching the class dynamic as though I am an outsider looking in. I LOVE the idea of cooperative learning. I totally agree with the article when it states that this type of learning, does in fact, teach students social skills as well as responsibility and accountability. These are skills that many of today's youth are seriously lacking. 

Now, is this type of learning practical? Not all classrooms are going to be successful at this learning approach. In my class particular, I have seen this work for a time and then before we know it feelings are hurt and there is tattling and it falls apart. One of the BIG challenges is how to divide up teams. Clearly, you do not want to have close friends all in the same group, however, if you separate there is always grumbling. I find it best to take this opportunity to pair groups together who typically would not chose each other of they had the option. It is a great way to broaden their horizons, as well as see how different people think.

As a teacher, it is your job to keep them on task. I know this can be very challenging. You constantly have to monitor to see if they are on task. There have been times when this type of learning has worked really well for my classroom and other times that it has not. I really feel that it depends on the group dynamic as well as the project or assignment. My advice would be to learn from your mistakes and take it one day at a time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cartiesian Product

I find theCartesian Product very interesting. For the problem how many different combinations you could get with 4 salads, 5 entrees and 6 desserts. I began writing all the different combinations out and was about ready to rip out my hair, luckily I consulted resources and read all about the Cartesian Product and it was simplified for me immediately.

It becomes as simple as multiplying all your outcomes together. Since math can seem like a waste of time for many students, it is so important to apply these concepts to their everyday lives. We can achieve this by providing times when this method may be used. They use the example of making colorful invitations and deciding which color combinations you would like to use. They break it down into steps for you: What does the situation involve, What has to be determined, What are the key data and conditions? By guiding students to think critically about problems, it forces them to think, and though it may be frustrating, in the end they will benefit from it.

I feel that for every concept being taught with regards to math it is crucial to provide examples of how this will benefit them in the real world. Also, try to make it apply to something tangible in their lives. The times that teachers did this for me made a huge difference and it is those things that I remember to this day. The days are long gone of worksheet after worksheet. We have to think of more creative ways to teach material so that not only our students comprehend it but also retain it.

First Blog EVER:)

Well....I wlll have to say that this is my very first blog EVER and as grad student that is a little surprising:) I have mixed feelings about all this new technology and that includes the idea of blogging. So we will see if I enjoy this or not....