Wednesday, August 6, 2014

#70Days Challenging the Advanced Learner

Last year, our district started a 2-day Pre-AP/AP Conference.  It's specifically designed for the secondary teacher working with advanced learners.  The conference offers keynote speakers, break out sessions and more!  This conference doesn't focus on math specifically so there are opportunities for making connections.

Today, Day 1, was filled with interesting ideas.

The Keynote address was delivered by 3 teachers - all recognized for excellence in teaching gifted students.  I was intrigued by the opening in which they shared several great thinkers and what they got wrong!  I love it when learning collides ... and so much of what I've been studying for the past 2 years is all about making mistakes and personal growth. The four big points in their address were teaching open-mindedness, empathy, metaphorical thinking, and productive failure.

Identifying your "Star Wars" name makes a good first day activity.  To observe students working in groups and to note their ability to interact, ask students to first create their names.  Then in table groups discuss whether their names indicate alliance with the Jedi or with the Dark Side.  Ask students to justify their reasoning.

Four Box Synectics would make a good warm-up strategy or review.  Draw four boxes.  You could fill in the boxes with words in advance or ask students to name objects from four categories.  Then have students describe the current unit's content using those objects.  Example:

Ask students to complete the sentence: A _______ is like a ______ because ....  So ... functions are like a song because they both tell a story.  Functions are like a song because they both can be graphed. Functions are like a song because they illustrate movement. And so on.

Educanon is a good tool for flipping a lesson or building a video tutorial.  It's easy, free, and available on most all platforms.  You can upload a video you make yourself, or you can upload a video you find online.  It's easy to insert formative assessment questions to help students' check for understanding.  The teacher gets the data from their responses - color coded red for incorrect, green for correct and an overall percentage for each student.  It takes only minutes to set up an Educanon learning "bulb" if you have the video and know what questions you want to ask!

In the last session I attended, an AP Calculus teacher shared how a strong knowledge of algebraic manipulations is needed.  She pointed out that the AP Calculus test has 2 non - calculator sections.  Students have to be able to work out problems by hand.  Most of us in the room were algebra teachers.  We wanted to know what top 3 - 5 skills were most needed.  Her response:  factoring patterns, fractions, working with exponents (rational exponents) and solving literal equations!

Today's conference presenters mostly encouraged me to think outside the box.  How can I challenge my advanced learners?

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