This week in class we discussed about numerous topics. I enjoyed when we went into groups and took turns discussing the quote that stood out to us the most on the “8 Takes on Thoughtful Assessment” handout. Having the opportunity to speak freely about a quote for 45 seconds without being interrupted was a great experience; however, sometimes it was difficult to stop what you were saying at the 45 second mark. I also realized that it was quite difficult to not interrupt others when they were sharing their thoughts. I noticed that I would nod and say words, such as “yeah” and “mhmm” as they were speaking so they could see that I was listening to them. At first I almost forgot that we weren’t supposed to interrupt the speaker, and I caught myself starting to speak when another person was speaking and I quickly silenced myself. This is an activity that I find extremely beneficial in the classroom and it reminded me of the “talking circle” strategy. I did some research on talking circles and in this article I discovered that talking circles is a means of sharing and communicating founded by Indigenous Peoples, and is now being used in the classroom setting. In a classroom, talking circles are used the same way as Indigenous Peoples use it outside of school. Desks are moved out of the way, students sit in a welcoming circle, and students take turns talking using a talking stick. According to the article, “Incorporating a talking circle format in the classroom is an effective way of creating a safe environment while allowing students to engage more fully.” Creating a safe environment and encourages students to express themselves are two key aspects in my teaching philosophy, and by using talking circles in my classroom, I believe I can reach these goals.
The other activity I enjoyed and learned a lot from is “Opposites Activity”. This activity encouraged us to think deeply about how we will incorporate assessment practices into our classroom, and compare it to others. It was interesting to see how others people’s views on assessment practices in the mathematics classroom differed from mine. My view on emphasizing recent achievement differed from one my classmates, and we had a strong discussion about why we thought emphasizing recent achievement was or was not important in the classroom and it changed my thought on it. As I was discussing with my peer, this activity started to resemble a debate. Throughout my schooling, I learned that debates can be an effective way of assessing students, if all students are taking part in the activity. According to article “Classroom activities: How to hold a classroom debate” classroom debates can “foster presentation skills, research, teamwork, and public speaking. So if you want to get your students excited about what they are learning, then try holding a classroom debate. Here’s how to get started.” I believe allowing students to practice these skills, while expressing their thoughts towards something they think strongly about will lead them to deep understanding. An interesting mathematics debate idea that was presented to us by Jeremy Sundeen was having students research the pipelines and transportation of oil, and then students had to debate whether they were for or against the use of pipelines to transport oil. While researching, students would be accessing the oil spill rates, the percentage of land that has been destroyed/taken over by pipelines, etc. Even though debates are sometimes difficult to implement, I believe they are a great instructional strategy.
During this last class, I learned several things in regards to sharing and discussing with others, and I plan to implement these strategies into my classroom.