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-   -   What Makes a great math teacher? (http://www.proteacher.net/discussions/showthread.php?t=77042)

Surita 04-09-2008 07:26 PM

What Makes a great math teacher?
 
Hey - there is a teacher at a school in our district who, our principal tells us, gets the highest elementary math scores. She has taught for a few years. I approached her about coming to our school to do PD for us. But she says she doesn't do anything special, that its just the things she has picked up along the way.

I am not getting this. First, why wouldn't she want to share with others if her scores are so high?

Second, other teachers have taught longer then she has and their scores aren't so high. I've asked her coteachers, and even they don't know what it is. Her kids sit in rows, and she teaches with an overhead - making most of her own problems on it. Similar to how I was taught. No one really knows what it is. Her personality isn't really charismatic either.

A couple of people mentioned that she might be cheating on the test. Is that possible? Surely not. However, it is intriging. How could she be the only teacher with gains in her school in fourth grade; and also the highest in the district.

I also know she doesn't use any one curriculum, no state text book, etc.

dee 04-10-2008 02:08 AM

Ours did this...
 
And I'm doing it next year!

It's called kill and drill. Practice, practice, practice.

Our text has small groups, activities, lit tie-ins, etc which is fine for once in awhile, but I have found this year (my first) that the kids just need to DO IT. Everyone UNDERSTANDS multiplication, but have they memorized their facts? NO! This slows them down and makes everything else harder. Next year will be quite different for me and them.

Of course she doesn't want to share...it strokes ego to be the best in something and she won't give away her "special recipe" so to speak. By the way....anyone can have mine since it STINKS!!!!

jjwires 04-10-2008 01:50 PM

Possibilites
 
Maybe this teacher isn't comfortable teaching teachers. There is a big difference teaching your peers even if they aren't from your school.

Yes, she could be cheating on the test! Perhaps she changes answers, or assists kids on the test. This would be hard to prove, but believe me, it has been done before. It is both unprofessional and unethical to do these types of things, but with the high stakes testing we all encounter now, it does happen. My theory is, "Give'm enough rope and they will eventually hang themselves!"

As far as boosting test scores, use your state standards and resources, incorportate technology ( drill & kill can be fun on these sites), and most importantly, teach your kids how to eliminate answers and take tests.

Good LucK!

shy1 04-10-2008 03:54 PM

maybe she doesnt even know what she does that is getting these results....such as me for instance....i have high test scores, and i dont know what i am doing differently from other teachers, because i'm not observing other teachers....

my principal also says i am the best in the school for differentiation....while i cannot explain how i do it....

i hope you get what i mean.......maybe she cant quite put her finger on it...it's probably a combination of strategies she does....i know my success is....

Mathzilla 04-13-2008 07:11 AM

do you want to kill and drill?
 
Aside from the teacher not wanting to share(?) the real issue is whether you want to teach like that. My 7th graders this year had a good teacher last year and their standardized scores were the highest in the district -- like 85% met or exceeded standards. This year on my pretest, their understanding and retention of last year's concepts was atrocious. Now, some people say that the info loss over the summer is inevitable, but I say that when they really understand it conceptually, there is less loss. Those kids did a cram and dump, just like many of us did in college. They weren't incorporating it into their lives.

We have good test scores in our district, but more and more 9th graders are failing Algebra I, even if they passed the state tests. Why is that? Because they're memorizing various algorithms without understanding what they're doing. So when the time comes to really manipulate fractions or equations, they can't do it because they don't understand. They don't remember the algorithms long-term because they didn't really get what was going on.

What's my point? I try to prepare my kids for the standardized tests, but my focus is on problem solving, reflection, and understanding of concepts. I want them to retain the information so they can succeed in their high school math, not just score well this year. That requires hands-on exploration, experimentation, and writing, not the teacher sitting at the overhead lecturing, then giving worksheets. imho, of course. Of course my kids do worksheets and book assignments to practice once we've explored a concept. But I try to keep it to a limit, and combine it with other strategies.

teacher4 04-13-2008 08:02 AM

test scores
 
This is a great topic becuase I have high math scores also. I do a variety of teaching techniques that I have learned over the years. I think my best practice is motivating my students to love math. I do use real life examples every day. I think hands-on and procedures work well to help students retain information. I use Marilyn Burns methods in teaching. My students jouranl in math and work in groups solving problems. What is the majic anwser to get high scores? I am not sure either. I just a combination of things I do work.

runnerss 04-21-2008 04:59 PM

no drill and kill
 
I think drill and kill is awful. That is not learning. That is memorizing for a short period of time and then forgetting it. There is no way you can teach math and it not be hands on. at some point. I don't care what grade you teach. I got GREAT scores this year. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I taught from a TAKS practice.

Lorelei 04-21-2008 06:27 PM

drill
 
I think that drilling basic facts in necessary. Without the basic knowledge of addition and subtraction and multiplication, math can be so hard on some students. They can't understand the concepts that are being taught because they are stuck and can't get past not knowing the basics which then hinders their learning.

People always ask me what I do to make my kids learn and I can't tell them. It isn't because I don't want to share. It is because I do whatever I think is needed at the time and that is hard to explain to someone. I do ALOT of reflecting as I teach and teach accordingly. I know their is content that I must teach and I make sure my students know it well. BUT at the same time, when they go onto the next grade they don't remember everything because they need a review. I feel that most students do remember once their background knowledge is activated.

ORteacher 05-14-2008 09:58 AM

Drill
 
I would never DRILL students until the have the number sense. If you students to be good problem solvers with conceptual understanding they will be able to pass any test!

Noonespecial 05-14-2008 11:16 AM

Love the Players Hate the game
 
Sometimes kids will work for one teacher but not for another. Don't despise those with high test scores. The teacher that has the kids at the time the scores are produced has done nothing compared to the work that's been exude by the past teachers and their parents (hopefully). It's a group effort. Feel good that some of the students you've taught have gone on to score well on tests as well. Whereas some teachers may feel the need to cheat on a state test, cheaters never win and winners never cheat. I really hope that's what all kids are being taught in the classroom.

Tex 05-16-2008 09:23 AM

Math Teacher - Drills
 
Just a couple of things.

I'm not a proponent of drill...except for multiplication facts...I think there is a time and place for most things.

Whatever this teacher is doing it works for her...I would suggest that it's probably not just one thing...you have to have a number of things going for you to be very successful. Student relationship, parent support, delivery, methods...they all come into play.

I would think that the principal would be motivated to have others observe this teacher and emulate? Quite honestly, I think this is one of the shortcomings in public school...we get a teacher who works the magic...and we leave her and her skills in isolation...it hurts all teachers and students.


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