# Blog Archives

## Follow my New Blog!

### My position has changed this year and I have created a new blog. I am the coordinator of the Middle School Re-Engagement Center. Please follow my new blog at http://EngagingGreece.wordpress.com to keep updated on active and creative instructional methods (math and other content areas), as well as the many events at the Re-Engagement Center.

## ENGAGING Teens In Their Learning – A Year Long PD Experience

The Athena High School Math Department (an amazing professional learning community) focused this year on engaging students in their own learning and ensuring that all students learn relevant mathematics. Using Dr. Vermette’s ENGAGING Framework, teachers (math and special ed) and an administrator (Mrs. Goodwine rocks!) collaborated and reflected on the various factors that produce high level learning experiences for students. The eight factors are: **E**ntice effort through positive relationships, **N**egotiate meaning, **G**roup collaboratively, **A**ctive learning, **G**raphic organizers, **I**ntelligence interventions, **N**ote making, and **G**rade wisely. More information on these factors can be found HERE.

Many Athena math teachers participated in a book study of Vermette’s (2009) book *ENGAGING Teens in Their Own Learning*. The teachers met seven times throughout the year to discuss their thoughts and reflections on the book. The book challenged many assumptions and beliefs that we had about education. The book promoted lively discussion around what is actually practical in education versus the utopia of education, specifically in math classrooms. Some ENGAGING activities that we discussed are listed here:

- Geo Partner Review on Locus – Val Derleth
- Proportions Lesson – Karrie & Jennifer Jones
- Three-Act Math Tasks – Dan Meyer
- Modeling Linear Relationships – Andy Maillet
- Differentiation Toolkit – Jason Gianotti

Earlier in the year, Dr. Vermette came to Athena to present to the Athena High School math and special education departments on the “ENGAGING Framework in Secondary Mathematics.” The workshop was filled with collaboration, reflection, activity, and discussion about the aspects of his “ENGAGING Framework.” Vermette also shared his thoughts on the age of standards, technology, 21st century skills, Common Core Curriculum, teacher accountability, standardized tests, and increased innumeracy.

In March, a group of Athena educators took a field trip to Niagara University to participate in a custom designed professional development by Paul Vermette, Karrie Jones, and Jennifer Jones. A general theme was to build with the knowledge in their heads, not yours. Vermette said that teaching is not telling; teaching is “sparking thinking.” One of the activities that we participated in was self-assessing a current lesson by answering the following questions:

- How do you build productive relationships with every student? How do their individual (and group) differences affect these efforts?
- How do you allow students to develop their own individualized understanding of the important content you teach them?
- Under what conditions would you use teams, peer interactions, cooperative learning and/or paired tasks? How do you do it?
- How do you use active learning strategies? How do you embed assessment into the instructional process?
- How do you use graphic organizers and reading strategies?
- How do you use multiple intelligences and other differentiation strategies?
- Note-making is one “writing to learn” strategy: what are some of the ones you use regularly?
- What are some of the factors that you consider in designing your grading system and determining individual grades?

It has been a great year of engaging professional development for the Athena High School Math Department. It is our hope that our work this year will help us to implement the Common Core Standards.

## Algebra Students are Engaged in Castle Learning

Although a highly effective math teacher, Mrs. Lagana has always tiptoed around the world of technology–until now. Mrs. Lagana engaged her students in a review lesson on the online program Castle Learning. Teachers typically find Castle Learning Online helpful as it supports instruction and assesses students throughout the school year. Mrs. Lagana and her Integrated Algebra students found that to be true. After a presentation by the high school media specialist Mrs. Rounding, Mrs. Lagana’s students quietly walked down the hall to the library. They all logged onto the computers quickly and successfully (which is not always the case with high school students). Mrs. Lagana’s students worked on 15 polynomial questions in which they had to not only provide the correct answer on the computer, but show detailed work on paper. If the students imputed the incorrect answer, the program would coach them to the correct response. Mrs. Lagana and her students will continue working hard and using Castle Learning to support learning. Well done Mrs. Lagana and her students!

## Common Core Math Standards

Although there is nothing final as far as what the common core math standards will look like at the high school level, some things have been released that give us a taste of what we should expect.

**SIX SHIFTS IN MATHEMATICS INSTRUCTION** (http://www.EngageNY.org)

**EIGHT STANDARDS FOR MATHEMATICAL PRACTICE** (http://illustrativemathematics.org/practices)

- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
- Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
- Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
- Model with mathematics.
- Use appropriate tools strategically.
- Attend to precision.
- Look for and make use of structure.
- Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

**TOOLS FOR THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS**

Bill McCallum is one of the writers of the common core standards. His blog is found at http://commoncoretools.wordpress.com/. On his blog, you will find news about tools that are being developed to support implementation of the Common Core State Standards. He often asks for feedback and comments on what is being created. This is a great opportunity to voice your opinion.

## The Queens of the Castle

Mrs. Stowell (Dodge) and Ms. Mullen are the queens of the Castle! In searching for ways to engage kids in a Core Extension block, these teachers have ventured into the world of computer technology. Athena Middle School students have the opportunity to receive an extra period of math, science, social studies, or English instruction through Core Extension. Mrs. Stowell and Ms. Mullen have decided to dedicate part of this time for the Castle Learning computer software.

Stowell’s 6th grade students and Mullen’s 8th grade students came into the library where they immediately logged on to access Castle Learning. Each teacher co-taught the login process with Mr. Haines, the middle school library media specialist. Students were highly engaged and worked hard on finishing each problem. Many other Athena teachers have had positive experiences with Castle Learing including Mr. Smith, Mrs. Schreiber, Mr. Titus, Mr. Ingerick, Mrs. O’Brien, Mrs. Salamone, Mrs. Cannito, Mrs. Dionisio, and Mrs. Gross. Please let me know others!

According to http://CastleLearning.com, students are achieving higher levels on raw scores, growth scores and state testing. Teachers find Castle Learning Online helpful for supporting instruction and assessing students throughout the school year, making them more effective educators. Administrator access provides assessment reporting to assist in making decisions and meeting district, state and national objectives. Parents can mentor and be engaged on a regular basis in their child’s education.

**Practical Strategy:** Use a variety of computer technology, such as Castle Learning, in your math instruction. Seek out the help from a colleague or coach for implementing this in your classroom.