Monday, October 24, 2011

Miss Read Teaches Her Peers

Hi, everyone! Today I had to do a peer teaching assignment for one of my classes. Peer teaching, in case you never had to do it or forgot about it, is when you teach a lesson as if you are teaching children, but the "students" are your adult classmates who are also studying to be teachers. We were each assigned a chapter in our text book about teaching math to children, and we had to design a lesson based on what we learned in that chapter. My chapter was on ratios and proportions. 
Since next week is Halloween, most of the people did lessons with a Halloween theme. Mine was no exception. I planned a lesson involving taking a trail mix recipe for five people, and increasing it to serve 25 people (supposedly for a classroom Halloween party that afternoon.) 
To introduce it, I told a fictional story about teaching my little cousin to ride a bike, and that my little cousin felt so unsafe riding a two-wheeler, he asked for a bike with ten or fifteen wheels to be extra safe. Everyone laughed and we discussed that bikes have two wheels, and that the number of wheels increases in proportion to the number of bikes. 
Next I gave each group a mixing bowl, a set of measuring cups, and one of the five ingredients needed for the recipe. The original recipe was written on the board. Each group had to come up with a way to convert their portion of the recipe to serve 25 people. 
This is the way we are taught to do lessons. Instead of just teaching, we are supposed to give the class a problem to solve, individually or in small groups, and then have them share the different ways they found of solving the problem. Afterwards we can show them our way of solving the problem. 
Towards the end of my little activity, I realized it went a lot faster than the other lessons had seemed to go, so I improvised and added a few lessons. I asked them to reduce the original recipe to serve one person, which was a lot more difficult and required more brainstorming from them. They had to share how they came up with the answers for that, too. 
Finally, I came up with random proportion problems, and whichever group came up with the answer first could come get some of the delicious trail mix first. 
When my lesson was over, I thought I totally bombed. But the other students had to fill out peer critique sheets, and when I got mine, almost every single person had given me an A+ and said that my lesson was great! They commented that I kept everyone engaged and challenged, and that I taught them a new attention getting method (I used Mrs. Jones "Ready set, we're the best" call and response thingie.) One person even said that my lesson was the best one in the whole class!
The good news is, I'm getting more actual teaching experience in this math class than I got in all the rest of my education classes combined. What do you think of that?

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