Here is one of the discussion questions from the wrap-up on day 8. Post your responses and comments here.

How does your classroom feel different as a result of the AfA training?

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The atmosphere is much more relaxed.  I have learned to relax a bit too.  There is so much pressure from the State, ISD, local district, parents, etc. that when an technique comes along that really delves deep into the subject, we snag it.  The AfA has certainly opened my eyes.

I agree with the less tension in the classroom.  Some of the kids will fight you because "they aren't good at math" while others are scared that they might get a question wrong.  It is great to approach it from a different reference point and to have the students analyze and figure things out.  What a breath of fresh air.

I can not say that my classroom feels different just yet.  I have not been able to try any of the activities with my students.  I can say however, that I feel different.  I see algebra concepts a lot differently and my goal will be to have my students see them differently as well.  I feel better about how I will present lesson to students in the fall.  I am excited about using the activites with my students.  For the first time in a long time, I am looking forward to teaching the 9th graders.  The function-based approach I believe will have my students wanting to come to class.  The discovery learning, real-life applications, and hands on activities will get the students motivated to learn.  The training has allowed me to approach Algebra in a way that will help increase students success.

One of the things that I am now asking myself is, "Are my students responsible for their own learning?"  I have actually asked some of my classes this question straight out.  This has made me more aware of the students who are not and what I can do to help them.  I have also taken some problems I have seen from the lessons and used them in my classroom. 

Since enrolling in this class I have tried to make learning in my classroom more real to the kids.  I have put a lot of effort into making the assignments into things that the students can relate to rather than just having it be graphs and equations.  Also, I have tried to more of the responsibility onto the learners.  I have tried to make them more responsible and take an active roll in thier learning.  I think this happened naturally with making math more interesting for them.  Next year I will begin this way of teaching from the get go and hope to see more interest in math from the students!

There is a shift.  The students need to know why things work and become more involved than they previously had been.  They are uncomfortable at first.  It is a shift for them as well.  Many of them have been very successful sitting back and being fed and then just spitting that information back out when needed.  That is not the case now.  They need to use what they know, figure out they are actually looking at and determine what to do with it.  It is great.  The expectations are different and the students are more involved in this atmosphere.  They are also less afraid to be wrong, because it is not a matter of there being only one answer all the time.

One thing is happening in my class is the grouping of students into small groups after I present a lesson. I use the function based approach, where I group my low achievers with high achievers in order to building them up as a way to promote hope, confidence, and persistence.

I also incorporate more technology into my lessons after discovered the available resources online, such as the equation grapher, the instructional videos at PD360, and other sources. In addition, I use more of the TI-84 graphic calculator to graph functions and find domains and ranges.

While I don't currently teach algebra 1, I really feel like I got a lot of ideas from this course. Even in 7th grade math we start looking at how we can use the graphing calculator to look at tables, equations and graphs. Even if I use nothing but the interactive graphing calculator tutorials my students will be better off. They are far better than anything I've seen before. The things I like best about this course, though, are the interactive applets that use sliders to look at how different parts of the equation change the graph and the lesson plans on this AFA social networking site. I definitely think that these are extremely useful even if we only get to the introductions of algebra. In addition, this course really helped me to open my mind up to new possibilities for making mathematics more engaging and relevant for my students. I can tweak some of the lessons here to fit my style and my students' abilities.

I find myself doing more activities where the students are exploring to find answers.  I am asking the students more questions and trying to tie the lessons to real life situations that they can explore.  This has been challenging because students are used to being given formulas and taught how to use them.  They are not used to finding out what the formulas mean and why they are used.  I am hoping that doing more of this next year and starting at the beginning of the year, I will be more successful and my student will become more responsible for their own learning and understand why they are doing what they are doing and not just learning something for the test and then just forgetting about it.  I am working at developing more activity based assessments.  Hopefully students will come to realize that math can and is fun.

I took this course in the summer so I have not had a chance to try any of the activities or ideas yet.  With my district going to common core this year and book that have a more discovery approach, I know that I will be able to use some of what we have learned in class and hopefully just have a different approach in general.

I am taking this class online during the summer so I have not had a chance to try some things out in my classroom yet. Some of the activities cover more material than I will need to with 8th graders, but there are a few I can do.  Besides the exact activities, this course has shown me I could be doing things differently in the classroom-more hands-on and discovery based. It will line up nicely with the common core curriculum, which we have adopted for this upcoming year. Our new textbooks even have an exploratory activity almost every other day.

I am taking this class during the summer, but I plan to make many changes in my classroom due to this AfA training. This course has really shown me how to get my students involved.  Making their assignments with real world applications, should really bring more interest to the content.  Having the students do more group work, I think will make the students feel more comfortable and bring on more discussions.  I have always believed the more discussion, the more learning is taking place.  I also like the way it uses all of the representations, which connects many concepts.  This course is teaching the teacher to give more responsibilty to the students.  Thanks a lot.


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