Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Final Reflection

So I'm playing a bit of catch up...but here is my final post!

Over the course of this PDU our math team has had a lot of conversations about what writing in math within second grade.  I really believe that discourse is the key to students being able to then express their ideas through writing, so I have focused a lot of my learning on what discourse supports student understanding.  I am also taking graduate classes and we had to pick an action research project for next year.  I decided to center my research around this topic. What role does student discourse play in the understanding of math concepts?  Do students who have more time to discuss math concepts with their peers have a greater understanding of more complex math tasks?  What differences are there in the understanding of math concepts when students utilize peer to peer conversations or can this lead to confusion of topics?  The purpose of my action research is to see if there is a correlation between the amount of time students spend in dialogic discourse conversations and the understanding of math concepts.  Are peer to peer conversations or teacher to student conversations more supportive or does this vary by complexity of the math skill or concept?

In our classroom we utilize the thinking strategies when tackling complex math problems.  My plan is to use a variety of math word problems in each of our units.  Within each unit I will give them a word problem that we have not discussed to get a baseline.  Next, we will have lessons on the conceptual understanding and then try another word problem that is similar, but not exactly the same. We will then have a few class sessions where students are able to discuss math concepts through guided discussions with their peers and then we’ll try another similar word problem.  I will also be creating a rubric so that I have a consistent grading method when looking at and analyzing student answers.  The next unit my plan is to do similar, but change when I provide the lessons surrounding the concept and when students participate in peer to peer discourse (allowing students to discuss their observations and use of thinking strategies first). The purpose of switching the order is so that I can see if it is the amount of time on a concept, the discourse itself changing the outcomes, or if there is not a change in understanding.   

My hope is to discover if there is a connection between student discourse and understanding.  If there is, I also hope that I will be able to learn if it is more effective providing students with an understanding of concepts and then allowing them to discuss their understandings and misunderstandings of those concepts, or if it is better to allow students to discuss and discover and then to teach the concept to affirm or clarify their understandings.

Final Reflection:
Through my work in this PDU with Michelle and reflecting with coworkers I have learned a lot about how to incorporate writing into math and science.  I have also worked really hard to allow my students more flexibility in their learning and to be advocates for what they need.  I no longer take charge of seating charts or learning partners-this took A LOT of prep work and open conversations for our classes to get to this point. Granted we've only been in the 'release' process for two weeks now, but I have seen many of them 'step up to the plate' and take on these responsibilities and hold each other accountable. I like the opportunity to learn along side my students and I feel as though this year we have been able to do that (through the good and the ugly!). 

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