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Journal 1

I observed a lesson taught by my cooperating teacher on Taylor and MacLaurin Series in

an AP Calculus BC class. During the lesson, the students seemed to understand the material. The

first part of the lesson was reviewing homework from a previous day, and the students seemed to

have a few questions, but those questions were somewhat furthering their knowledge (it was a

topic that may have been covered, but still was challenging for some of the students). The

students seemed interested in the lesson, but many were talking amongst each other or on their

phones while the teacher was lecturing. They worked on answering some of the questions he

posed and seemed to understand the material after the lesson was over. They didn’t ask many

questions during the lesson, which doesn’t tell me much about whether they understood the

material. One thing I noticed is that at the end of the lesson the teacher assigned homework and

asked the students to get started on it, but only one student did. Granted, there were only 8

minutes left and the textbook was only accessible online, but I don’t think that indicates whether

the students understood the material.

My teacher was not very engaging with the students throughout the lesson. He asked

them what they understood about the homework in the beginning of the lesson, and asked if they

had any questions near the end of the lesson. Other than that there was some banter between him

and the students but it was mostly lecture styled. I thought he transitioned between material well,

he was able to tie in what they had done in the previous lesson to the lesson I observed, and he

presented the information in a way I thought was easy to understand. It was actually interesting

to compare this lesson to the one I received in my Calc BC class I took in high school, because

this teacher taught the students the basic derivation behind the Taylor and MacLaurin Series

while my teacher only taught us the summations we needed to know and had us memorize them.
He didn’t seem to pay attention to individual student needs, and spent the last portion of the class

period talking to me and therefore making himself unavailable for his students. There were no

formal assessments in the class period, and very few informal assessments that I could tell. He

asked if students had any questions and had them work in groups on a couple of in class

problems, but other than that I didn’t notice any type of formative assessment, or lesson

adjustments in the period.

If there were anything I were to change about the lesson, I would have asked my students

more thought provoking questions. I was impressed that he was able to get them to come to a

conclusion about Taylor Series and how they work, but his questions seemed very superficial.

Lin McMullin lists some questions for teachers to ask their students when teaching this unit, such

as “If there were an infinite number of terms, would the polynomial (now more properly called

an infinite series) be the same as the function?” and “Is there an easier way to build the

polynomial? Do you have to figure out and evaluate all of the derivatives?” (McMullin). I think

questions like these foster further thinking, and allow for students to have a deeper understanding

of the lesson presented. He also had his classroom set up in a traditional style, with rows and

columns instead of any groupings. I found this odd since he asked the students to work in

pairs/groups more than once in the class period. The students were also talking to each other over

the aisles and it was a little distracting. The Center for Teaching and Learning at Yale says that

this arrangement has the students in the back less engaged in the lesson, which is something I

noticed as well (“Classroom Seating Arrangements”). I would have set the classroom up in pairs

or groups so students would have an easier time communicating with each other, and it might

keep more students engaged in the lesson that way. Another thing I would improve on would be

the way he managed his classroom. He seemed to let a lot of students get away with things like
being on their phones/computers, not taking notes, and overall not paying attention. The National

Education Association recommends building relationships with your student, which is something

I didn’t see much of in the classroom (Mendler). That is something I would try to do with my

students, and hopefully if they have a relationship built with me they will be more likely to pay

attention. Overall, I thought there were things my teacher did well on and things I would have

done differently. It was a good experience learning from my cooperating teacher and was

interesting to compare how he taught the lesson even compared to my teacher when I was in that

class in high school.

Works Cited

“Classroom Seating Arrangements.” Center for Teaching and Learning, 2018,

ctl.yale.edu/ClassroomSeatingArrangements.

McMullin, Lin. “Introducing Power Series 3.” Teaching Calculus, 13 Feb. 2013,

teachingcalculus.com/2013/02/13/introducing-power-series-3/.

Mendler, Allen. “Reclaim Your Game Before Teaching Gets Tougher.” NEA, 2017,

www.nea.org/tools/60624.htm.
Journal 2

The assessment I observed in the AP Calculus BC class was a quiz held in the last twenty

minutes of the class period on Polar functions. My cooperating teacher said that this was material

his students had been working on the previous few lessons, although in the beginning part of the

class period they had been working with parametric functions. He finished the lesson about 45

minutes before the end of the period, let the students work on homework and study for 20

minutes, then had students clear their desks and passed out the quiz. The students then brought

their quiz up to the teacher when they were done and returned to their seats. In terms of the

testing environment, there was nothing particularly lacking or exceptional. The desks remained

in rows and the students were expected to not talk to each other while quizzes were out. After a

few students in the same area had finished the quiz, they began talking, but the teacher didn’t do

anything to address them.

One thing I noticed is that the first student to turn in his quiz did not read the directions for the

first question and didn’t shade in the graph. Instead of the teacher leaving it and counting the

question completely wrong, he called the student up to the desk and as he was walking the

teacher loudly announced that he needed to shade the graph a little darker so that he could tell

what had been shaded in. I have mixed feelings about how this situation played out. One one

hand it may have embarrassed the student being called out like that and having the teacher loudly

announce his mistake, but on the other hand it allowed the teacher to remind the students to read

the directions in a subtle way and he didn’t directly mention the problem. I also have mixed

feelings because it allowed the student to earn two points back (out of 10) that he might have

deserved to lose for not reading the directions. Since it wasn’t a test, I would be more

comfortable letting students do something like this, but would be hesitant to do this on an exam.
I agree with the way my teacher graded this exam. He placed more emphasis/partial

credit on setting up the question correctly and gave less weight on arriving at the correct answer.

Although I believe arriving at the right answer is important, since this wasn’t an exam I would be

more apt to give partial credit for setting up a problem correctly. It allows students to learn from

their mistakes and gives the teacher information on whether a student isn’t setting up a problem

properly and doesn’t understand the material being taught, or if they just made a computation

mistake and need to be more careful in the future (Thoughts on Partial Credit). There are both

benefits and drawbacks to partial credit, but on a quiz I think it is especially helpful to students.

There were no accommodations made for students with IEP’s, but I don’t believe there are any

students with IEP’s in the class. He gave the same quiz to everyone and had the same allotted

time for everyone. There were students absent that day, but he said they would get a different

question on their quiz to prevent academic dishonesty. I thought the questions were appropriate

for the level of the class and reflective of what they might see on their unit exam or the AP exam

(Past Exam Questions).

The quiz was a ‘pop quiz’, meaning the students had no knowledge it would be administered. My

cooperating teacher said he had been giving his students quizzes like these for the unit every few

days, so the students would be aware that something like this was possible. Research about

unannounced quizzes provides consistent results, with many researchers arguing that students

taking unannounced quizzes score higher on both the quiz and the corresponding exam than

students exposed to the same conditions, except with announced quizzes (Kamuche). Those who

are arguing against unannounced quizzes do not have any research to back their claims, and

mostly rely on personal experience. I personally like the idea of unannounced quizzes, especially
in the upper levels of High School Math. It is important to keep students studying, and the

possibility of having a quiz that day.

Attached on the next few pages are the quiz, answer key, and student data my teacher provided:
Student scores out of 10 from lowest to highest:

2, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 10

Only one person had a perfect score, while 4/25 made A’s. The mode of exam scores

were 8 and 7, and the lowest score was a 2 with 8 students failing (5 or less). The average was a

6.52. As a teacher, I would be upset with these scores as it would indicate that my students

weren’t ready for their exam. The quiz was returned the next day, giving them some time to look

over their mistakes before the unit test. Unfortunately, I was not provided with a question by

question breakdown, but I would go over parts that the majority of the class missed an allow

students to ask any questions to clarify any misconceptions they may have.

Works Cited

Kamuche, Felix. “The Effects Of Unannounced Quizzes On Student Performance: Further

Evidence.”ResearchGate, 2011,

www.researchgate.net/publication/265235277_The_Effects_Of_Unannounced_Quizzes_On_Stu

dent_Performance_Further_Evidence.

“Thoughts on Partial Credit.” Mrs. E Teaches Math, 3 Jan. 2015,

www.mrseteachesmath.com/2015/01/thoughts-on-partial-credit.html.

“Past Exam Questions.” AP Calculus BC: Past Exam Questions, The College Board,

apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-calculus-bc/exam/past-exam-questions.
Journal 3

My cooperating teacher’s interview answers were very thought provoking. I had a face to

face conversation with him after sending him the questions previously, and he had typed up and

printed a response to his questions for me. His answers to the questions orally were very similar

to what he had written for me. One thing he mentioned is that it is easy to only talk to students

who are interested and ignore the rest. This stuck out to me, because it is something I can see

myself doing as a teacher. Now that it had been pointed out to me, I can actively try to counteract

that tendency in my classroom. Other than that, my assumptions and conclusions about my

teacher seem correct. He talked about his PLT, and gave me more of an insight to that than what

we have been discussing in all of my education classes so far. He does realize that he may not be

using the best style and methods to teach, which surprised me a little. I guess it is hard to change

routine, but that would be something I would try to do as a teacher. If I recognise there is a

problem or something isn’t the way it should be, I would want to go fix it to the best of my

ability.

I asked my cooperating teacher about using multiple choice exams and projects in his

units, expecting to hear that he did use multiple choice questions, but not projects. I was partially

correct. The class I am observing is an AP Calculus class, and with the fast-paced nature of the

curriculum, it can be hard to incorporate projects into the units. He also said that he didn’t use

multiple choice questions, which I was surprised about. In an AP Class, I would have thought

that he would try to mimic the form of the exam, and at least give students practice with the

kinds of multiple choice questions they may see on the exam. AP Central argues that Multiple

Choice exams are beneficial to student learning. They can help with test analysis to gain clearer

knowledge of what your students do and do not know, and can be quite challenging as opposed
to basic fact recall (Korsunsky). Personally, when I took AP Calc in high school, our unit exams

were a combination multiple choice and open ended, which I thought helped prepare me for the

exam. This is something else that AP Central argues for, tests with multiple formats. This allows

for more concepts to be covered in a shorter format (Korsunsky).

One thing that surprised me was the lack of formative assessments that my teacher gives

his students. This was clear to me when I observed him, but he did mention in his interview that

he does conduct some formative assessments. One thing that he said he does is give students a

‘pop quiz’ but not grade it, and show them where they would have lost points if it had been real.

I think this is a good idea and would like to incorporate it in my classroom, but it seems like it

would be a very infrequent assignment. Formative assessments should be very frequent to

provide feedback to students and the teacher to help facilitate learning (Boston).

The assessment cycle is a cycle of setting program goals/outcomes, developing and

implementing assessment strategies, reviewing the assessment data, and creating an action plan

(“The Assessment Cycle”). It involves both formative and summative assessments. After

observing my teacher and the interview I conducted with him, I will pay a lot of attention to this

cycle, especially the formative assessment part. Formative assessments allow for student growth

and reflection, and should be implemented almost every day, if not every day. My cooperating

teacher does them very infrequently, and that is something I would like to change in my

classroom. I would like to incorporate at least one formative assessment per day in my class,

both to make sure my students are understanding the material, and to help me see if there is

anything I can do as a teacher to help my students learn better.


Works Cited

Boston, Carol. “The Concept of Formative Assessment. ERIC Digest.” ERIC - Education

Resources Information Center, ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, 1129

Shriver Laboratory, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 800-464-3742 (Toll

Free)., 30 Sept. 2002, eric.ed.gov/?id=ED470206.

Korsunsky, Boris. “MCTs: Good for Assessment, Good for Research, Good for Teaching.”AP

Central, The College Board, 2018, apcentral.collegeboard.org/series/multiple-choice-tests/good-

assessment-good-research-good-teaching.

“The Assessment Cycle.” Assessment | Office of Academic Planning & Assessment, The George

Washington University, assessment.gwu.edu/assessment-cycle.