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Aritz Cardenas

Dr. Sylvia Turner


MIAA 310
Spring 2014


Final Reflection and Conclusion

What instructional strategies are effective for helping K-8 students achieve in
mathematics?
I was able to answer my main focus question in each one of my classes. In
this program, I researched, designed and practiced a variety of strategies that are
effective in helping students achieve success in a mathematics classroom. I will
briefly go into some of the main strategies from each course and why they are so
important.
MIAA 320: Mathematics Discourse
One of the most beneficial strategies that I took out from Mathematics
Discourse was the establishment of having essential questions in your unit design.
As mentioned before, essential questions serve as guidance and a core for a unit.
They encourage a variety of factors throughout a unit of study, which include
analysis, critical thinking, promoting additional questions, personal understanding,
and engagement. In Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding, Jay
McTighe and Grant Wiggins demonstrate various examples on how you can utilize
essential questions in different units of study and how to approach them in a unit of
study. Ive been able to utilize this source throughout my year of study in my
courses. They help keep the focus and objective on a topic we are discussion about
throughout a unit (and even throughout the year).
MIAA 330: Mathematics Assessment
During this course, I was able to understand how assessment has and will
continue to play a major role in the Common Core Mathematics classroom. In this
course, one of the beneficial things I learned dealt with the Common Core
assessment itself. We learned about the make up of the test and how as educators
we can prepare our students for it. mathematics classroom. A new thing I learned
about the common core design was the variety of question responses that students
will see in the Smarter Balance assessment. Students will be asked questions in
three major types of responses. The first type of response is a selected response,
which asks students to choose responses from a provided list; examples of this
include multiple-choice, true/false, and matching (6 item types PDF). The second
response type is a constructed response, which requires students to use their
schema to answer a question and/or complete a task; this includes short answer,
extensive response, and performance assessments (6 item types PDF). Lastly, there
is the extended response type, which requires a written response such as a short
phrase or a more in-depth composition, such as an essay (6 item types PDF). There
were many specific examples of problems and questions, which promote
mathematic differentiation. Marian Smalls Good Questions: Great Ways to
Differentiate Mathematic Instructions is a great source that provides strategies for
creating open questions and promoting critical thinking. Small encourages teachers
to turn around the question and change questions found in textbooks to
establish more meaning for student learning (Small, 2012). What I personally
learned about these three types of responses is that I need to prepare students for
the diverse type of questions they will be seeing in the Smarter Balance Assessment.
In one of my assignments for this course, I was able to create questions from all
three major levels for all three-grade spans. Currently in my class, I feel like many of
my questions are mostly selected response. By re-creating new lesson designs, I will
make sure that my questions on my assessment are more balanced in including the
three major types of assessment.
MIAA 340: Mathematics and Equity
There were numerous efficient learning strategies in this class that promoted
equity and help students become successful in a K-8 classroom. One effective
strategy of promoting differentiation was having tiered lessons in a unit design. This
method is effective because it allows for students who need additional support on a
concept to continue to get practice in it, while those students who understand a
concept can get more of a challenge (or prepare for a new topic). As an educator, it is
essential that we are equitable for all of our students and making sure we are not
leaving students behind. At the same time, you want those students who are ready
to move on to continue to be challenged. I definitely plan on utilizing tiered
assessments in the future. Another example of differentiation tasks was having
students choose which task they prefer (parallel tasks). This method allows
students to access the content by utilizing the modality they prefer. A third way I
was able to display differentiating was through my productive (writing and
speaking) assessments. I provided sentence frames/ starters so students were able
to have access to the content while using proper sentence structure. These were just
some of the many ways in which I demonstrate equitable differentiation in my
lesson designs.
MIAA 350: Mathematics Instruction
In this course, I learned about the importance of having students take part in
assessments that are highly cognitive. I was able to discover cognitive strategies and
tasks through scholarly reading. During this course, I was able to read a scholarly
article titled, A Skyscraping Feat by Sarah A. Roberts and Jean S. Lee. In this article,
the authors state that learning is maximized when there is sustained use of high
cognitive demanding tasks through instruction. Roberts and Lee claim that in order
to maximize student learning, teachers need to prepare to facilitate student
learning, not simply giving challenging problems (Roberts and Lee, 258 & 260,
2013). The authors use the problem of determining how many skyscraping
windows one would need to clean and the cost associated with it. The beauty of this
problem is that the facilitator does not tell students how to solve it, rather allow
them to solve it themselves. Roberts and Lee show how there are at least 6 different
ways of solving this problem (and they demonstrate it in the article). The authors
also give good strategies on how to successfully facilitate complete, high-cognitive
tasks; some strategies include aligning them to standards/objectives, being
prepared for possible questions asked by students (which can help for
differentiation and checking in), allowing students individual time before group
collaboration, and concluding with an entire class debrief (Roberts and Lee, 260,
2013). I felt this article was very well written, clear and concise. What I liked about
this article is that the authors provided specific prompts that a teacher can pose to
its students for each strategy. Each pathway had between 3 to 5 prompts that a
teacher could ask. One thing I will do in my classes in the future is to plan for
assessments in which I have my students attempted to come up with the strategy on
their own. If students are struggling, you will be prepared as the facilitator to assist
them. But with the way Common Core is, it is essential for students to think critically
and complete highly cognitive tasks on their own.
MIAA 360/370: Designing Mathematics Instruction and Fieldwork
I was able to design about numerous strategies that are effective in
promoting success in a mathematics classroom. One of the most effective strategies
that I learned in this course had to do with getting students engaged in the
curriculum, thus making the content that is being taught meaningful. In each of
these activities, I utilized ideas and strategies from Beverlee Jobracks, The 5E
Instructional Model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Evaluate, EXTEND. In this article,
Jobrack focuses on the importance of making the lesson design meaningful and
impactful for students. I attempted to utilize this philosophy throughout my
assignments of this course. In both my PBLs and intervention, I attempted to come
up with numerous assessments and activities that have students participating in
high-cognitive learning, in addition to using a number of learning modalities. During
the lesson studies, we tried a few methods on how to incorporate a variety of
activities and assessments. I think the toughest part about the lesson studies was
the lack of time for collaboration with the master teachers in the classes that we
were teaching a lesson in. It is incredibly difficult to teach in a class and subject that
you are not use to. Yet, the experience was invaluable and very beneficial in
reflecting how to teach in a variety of grade spans.