Name: LaDonna Reynolds
Role/School: 6th Grade Math Teacher/James Martin Middle School
Subjects/Grades Taught: Math/6th Grade
How did you find yourself in teaching?
Throughout grade school, I was an excellent student. I graduated towards the top of my senior class and received many honors, including a full scholarship. I went to college and had an amazing start but unfortunately, after about two or three years, I lost my passion for school. I felt lost and did not know my true purpose in life. I felt as if I was going to these college courses out of routine, not enjoyment like I once did. My grades started to fall and I made a choice to drop out of school. I worked at a bookstore a couple of years and while I was there, I realized something. Even at the lowest point in my life, I found joy in helping people. I then thought of how my academic life changed because I no longer felt like my educators were truly invested in me. I knew then that I had to return to school, receive a degree and become a teacher. I needed to be the late Ms. Lettye Clark that I once had in my high school math classes that pushed me, kept me encouraged and most importantly, believed in me. Her beautiful spirit drove me then just as much as it does now to be the most amazing teacher I can be. I pray that I can be the educator that touches at least one child and keeps them from giving up.
What is your favorite thing about Math Techbook?
My absolute favorite thing about Math Techbook is the level of questioning it provides. The questions range from true/false, multiple choice, multiple selections, fill-in-the-blank, free response, labeling and picture drawing. The questions give the rigor that is needed (including vocabulary and conceptual thinking) while still demonstrating relevance (with real-world situations). My reflections are now more effective than ever because instead of a simple thumbs-up, thumbs-down to see how students understand, I can now read how much they comprehend through their answers.
How has using Math Techbook changed your opinion of your role as the teacher?
Now that I have implemented the Math Techbook in my classroom, I definitely consider myself more of a learning facilitator than before. Using the Math Techbook is almost like teaching my students how to ride a bicycle. I show them what a bicycle is and how it is used (introduce the students to the new concept). I ask them to sit and move their feet but I steer them (complete the beginning of the investigation along with them until they feel somewhat comfortable). I let the bicycle go and watch my students pedal on their own; some of them gliding easily while others wobble and fall (watch, listen and challenge the students’ problem-solving). Finally, after a few attempts and redirection from me, they ride smoothly on their own (students grasp the concept and demonstrate their ability to apply it to different situations). Even though my analogy may seem over-the-top, I definitely have some students becoming advanced enough to do wheelies around these math problems now!
What tips do you have for beginning users?
I suggest that beginning users play around with the features the Math Techbook has to offer and learn what best fits YOUR classroom. No one should feel overwhelmed with the thought of using ALL of the features EVERY DAY; it is almost impossible considering the numerous features. One thing I have learned this year is that one of your class blocks or periods may master using the Whiteboard and desire working independently where another class block requests constant direction through whole-group instruction. Just remember that you were selected to be a teacher because you are capable and you are amongst some of the most malleable and flexible professionals you will ever meet. You can do it!
Take a look into Ms. Reynolds classroom as she uses the Whiteboard Math Tools to work with students on a Math Techbook Investigation using nets to find the surface area of a three-dimensional figure (Unit 13, Concept 1, Discover Section, Investigation 2).
What other tools, resources, strategies, etc. do you incorporate with Math Techbook?
Math Techbook has many tools, resources and strategies that can easily be incorporated in any mathematics classroom. I enjoy playing the introduction videos at the beginning of each unit so that the students can begin associating math with real-world situations. I use the Check for Understanding worksheets at the end of each investigation as homework; this has really helped me save time yet still use rigor. The glossary, which includes pictures and videos, has been an amazing tool for my students with special needs or whose first language is not English. My students also enjoy the fact that if they are absent from class, they are still able to receive the assignment and can complete it from home. This helps keep them on track with the rest of the class and the teacher dashboard on my screen allows me to monitor their understanding while they are away. I am looking forward to utilizing the board builder and quiz builders more next school year in order to continue effectively differentiating.
How do you organize your classroom and planning to maximize your students’ learning experiences?
When it comes to classroom organization, I feel that it is imperative to find what best suits your students’ learning styles. Despite what layout I choose, I always have my students in small groups. I have found this to be most effective when using the Math Techbook because my middle schoolers are very social. In most classrooms, talking is discouraged during instructional time; this is not the case in my classroom. The Math Techbook allows students to engage in content-oriented discussion and problem-solving. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing students debate over a math problem while proving their answers utilizing the investigations.
How do your students respond to the use of Math Techbook? What do they like about it?
My students really enjoy using the Math Techbook. The interactive games are most definitely their favorite feature! Often times, they request to revisit past lessons because of the amount of fun they had while learning the different concepts. Another great resource that the Math Techbook provides is a variety of hands-on activities for the different units and concepts within them. There is nothing like being able to manipulate items to solve or better understand mathematics; this is something that my tactile learners truly appreciate.
Discovery Education in Action is a series of webinars, blog posts, and livestreams that share the view from educators using Discovery Education resources. Learn more here: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/what-we-offer/professional-development/discovery-education-in-action.cfm