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EDUC 461: TWS #8

Professional Development

Jankouskas

Mini-Unit Instruction:
Throughout the mini-unit our procedures for each lesson were very similar and structured. I think
this gave the students a sense of security due to the routineness of each lesson. From the beginning of the
unit students were encouraged to use Unifix cubes, tessellations, and other manipulates. Students were
able to grasp concepts efficiently when they were able to use their hands to build a model and then use
their model to teach another student. As a class using our textbooks to instruct and take notes made for an
easy study method and allowed students to go back and check their homework when outside of school.
During our collaborative group work section of each lesson students were able to discuss how they
learned each process to other students, thus solidifying the information in their own minds. Finally our
wrap-up routine was a thorough investigation of what we had not only learned that day, but what we had
learned so far. Through these positive instructional strategies the class as a whole was successful by the
end of the unit.
One instructional issue I had during this unit was during the independent work. Many students
required more individualized assistance than I was able to give. These students excel when taught oneon-one. The students I was able to instruct in this manner were quite successful with their retention of the
processes and arithmetic. To fix this problem of not reaching every student individually enough I would
either add more independent time or during group time add a portion where each group comes to the back
table and I perform a small reading group like lesson with the students, but in math. This is an idea I
had just after the unit ended, and I think implementing this type of personal instruction would benefit the
struggling students greatly.
Overall as a class the students were successful and the strategies used to teach the students were
positive choices. Few changes need to be made to this unit, but if made I think the struggling students
would benefit greatly, and their scores would resemble that benefit.

Instructional Decisions:
After the pre-assessment was reviewed and after our class discussion about the results we decided
to use the vocabulary in order to mastery the vernacular required for this unit. Therefore, every lesson,
and every section of a lesson students were required to speak as a mathematician would. I also made a
note of how students struggled with place values and thus comparing numbers using greater than, less
than, and equal to. This enlightened me into making sure we had Unifix cubes for every lesson. We used
these to represent the two numbers thus giving the students a visual of both numbers, making it very easy
to tell which one was greater. My third change to my original plan was to make group competitions every
now and then in order to build teamwork and to have early finishers assist stragglers. This would
hopefully allow early finishers to attain mastery while giving slower paced students or special needs
students another perspective on the material.
After the during-assessment I decided to go back over and reteach one of the place value lessons.
This was because the scores of the majority were very poor/underachieving. I tried to reteach this lesson
in the most opposite way possible while still maintaining accuracy with the subject matter. In this lesson
I used a lot of student examples and participating very little in the discussion. At first I was forced to
provide guided questions, but after about half of the students grasped the concept I was able to let those
students teach the struggling students, and discover the answers as a class. This proved to be very
effective with one half of the class mastering the material that day, and the other attain a respectable level
of retention. I think that this review/reteach lesson was the reason that no student failed the unit exam
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EDUC 461: TWS #8

Professional Development

Jankouskas

because this lesson had the most collaborative and hands-on instruction where students were showing
other students with models to defend their conclusions.
I did not change too many things during lessons other than minute details. If during a particular lesson
students grasped the content quicker than another lesson I would have the students walk me through the
second example in the book when normally I would walk them through and then on the guided practice
they would assist me. The opposite was also true. If students were struggling we would sometimes go
into the independent practice as a class. For this I would use guided questions, making sure to use the
vocabulary to activate prior knowledge, in order to have students walk me through each problem. If I as a
class we went into the independent work I made sure to ask each student a part of the process in
determining each problem. This became very repetitive, but I think as a whole students retained the
information effectively because it was so outlandishly repetitive. During one specific lesson I stopped the
momentum of the class and had them create a chart for place values in their math notebooks. We used the
number 123,456,789. Underneath each number we wrote its specific place value; example, 1 = hundredmillions. Then underneath each section of three numbers we wrote the last names; example, 456 =
thousands, 789 = hundreds. This refers to how you pronounce the number. You would say one hundred
twenty-three million (last name), four hundred fifty-six thousand (last name), seven hundred eighty-nine.
As a class we color coded each section including the last names. I created my own on chart paper with
the students to use as an anchor chart. Each lesson I had a few guiding questions written down as
examples, but most lessons I created questions as I taught. This allowed the lessons to flow more
naturally. Often times I used all questions I had written down, but most lessons I asked many more to
students, especially during the review and wrap-up.

How to Increase Student Learning:


Based on formative assessments and which students struggled throughout and those who
struggled at the conclusion a few changes need to be made if taught again. The first and biggest addition
I would make to the unit is small math groups that are brought to the back table and instructed on a more
intimate level. This would be similar to small reading groups for English/Language Arts. In these groups
the instructor would group based on performance, and scaffold accordingly. These mini-lessons would be
performed on white boards presenting students with a different perspective and having students work
through problems both individually and collectively.
Another change I would make if teaching this unit again would be to add a second lesson on place
values before giving the students the during-assessment. This would hopefully improve the students
understanding of place values, which is involved in every type of comparing, ordering, estimating, and
arithmetic used for the unit.
The last change I would make to the unit as a whole is to add more collaborative games, and
opportunities to compete in teams. This will help many students with retention because they are
performing the math on a competitive level, which is similar to the minute math activities.

Most Successful Student:


The most successful student was student #3. This is a straight A student who constant exceeds
expectations. This student is constantly on task and works very hard in order to succeed. I think this
student was extremely successful because of his/her background knowledge in math. On the pre2

EDUC 461: TWS #8

Professional Development

Jankouskas

assessment this was evident. This student scored a ninety on the pre-assessment and a one hundred on the
during and post-assessments. This students pre-assessment did however show room for improvement. I
think the variety of instructional strategies used is why this student excelled in this unit. He/she was
taught in a variety of ways as well as having the opportunities to teach his/her peers after he/she
understood the material. This helped him/her master the material prior to the during-assessment and
afterwards his/her practice on the following lessons help him/her achieve a perfect score on the postassessment. I think for this student to understand the material even more thoroughly than he/she already
does is to add more real world application. This would include more discussion about careers that use
this math and how everyday this type of math can be applied. Another option to improve this students
retention and mastery level would be the addition of small work groups that meet with the instructor
based on ability. This student would be in the highest achieving group based on his/her scores. This may
give this student a chance to move to more challenging arithmetic and higher place values challenging the
student more.

Least Successful Student:


The least successful student in this unit was student #13. This student was unsuccessful due to
effort put forth to learn processes and place values. This student missed two days during the unit which
most likely hurt their understanding, however the biggest issue was motivation. This student was a
constant distraction throughout the unit and often avoided independent work. Almost every day this
student had to be redirected back to their work multiple times. I sat down with this student, giving
him/her independent instruction, because after looking over his/her independent work I noticed that most
of the students answer were incorrect. I also made a habit to ask this student questions during the notetaking sections and review sections of our lessons as well as asking him/her on a daily basis to walk the
class through a guided practice problem. Even with all of the personal instruction and opportunities this
student was given the student showed little improvement and motivation.
I order to improve this students performance I need to find a connection to the math that will
make the student eager to answer the problems in font of himself/herself. I also think that a small group
with the other low performers will show the student exactly where they are and make the student want to
improve. This student loves to talk to other students and the more collaboration the more this student will
participate. Also the collaboration guided by the instructor will keep the students conversations on task.

Average Performing Student:


An average performing student during this unit was student #20. This student normally gives a
mediocre level of effort which was no different during this unit. This student is not a behavioral issue,
but does enjoy socializing with his/her friends. This student began the unit with a failing pre-assessment
which showed little schemata for place values and estimation. With this students effort and knack for
collaborating off task with other students the during-assessment was under what this student is able to
achieve. The same was true for the post-assessment with this student achieving a C on both.
To help this student focus and give more effort I would definitely implement the small group
work with the instructor. This will keep the student on task, while at the same time letting the student
converse with his/her classmates. I would also like to express why this math is important and how
knowing this math can help a person every day as well as specific careers that utilize this type of math.
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EDUC 461: TWS #8

Professional Development

Jankouskas

This would give more meaning to the information being taught and hopefully keep the attention of the
student enough to retain the material.

Lesson #1 Reflection:
In the first lesson we introduce labelling numbers digits with place values. The students are
given a variety of instructional strategies for their individual learning. This lesson was successful, but
could have been more so if individualized instruction was added. Small groups based on pre-assessment
performance would have been very beneficial for the students in every zone of performance. These small
groups would help students learn through discovery more efficiently than taking notes and working
independently.
Lesson #2 Reflection:
The second lesson was on how to read and write multi-digit numbers. This lesson was very
similar in structure to the previous lesson. This lesson went very well, but could have been improved if
students were given more independent and group time to work. During this time I would like to
implement small math groups, grouped on performance. This would allow students a more intimate
collaborative learning experience.
Lesson #3 Reflection:
The third lesson of this unit was on comparing numbers. We kept the same structure as prior
lessons which involve whole group note taking, group work, and independent work, along with a wrap-up
at the end. I would like to make the same addition as in the prior lessons in order to improve student
learning and retention. I think that through these small groups drastic progress will be made with the
struggling students.
Lesson #4 Reflection:
The fourth lesson was similar to the third lesson in content and structure. Again I would add the
small math groups if I retaught this lesson. I would also like to add more comparisons between
comparing numbers and ordering. They are similar concepts and if that is pointed out to the students I
think they will be able to make connections between the processes and possibly grasp the concepts more
efficiently.
Lesson #5 Reflection:
Lesson five was concerned with rounding to specific place values. In this lesson we used our
knowledge on reading and writing numbers as well as place values to estimate numbers to the given place
values. The structure of this lesson was similar to prior lessons and the major change I would make if reteaching this lesson would again be the small group instruction. Dealing with estimating is an abstract
application type of math. I think that when given a more direct instruction in a small group with a
collaborative mindset the students would have thrived to mastery just within this lesson. Many students
performed very effectively in this lesson, but improvement could have been made with the instruction.
Lesson #6 Reflection:
Lesson six was the first lesson following the during-assessment. This lesson was created based
on what types of questions students struggled with. After reviewing the during-assessments, it was clear
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EDUC 461: TWS #8

Professional Development

Jankouskas

that place values must be reviewed. In this lesson I tried to give another perspective on how to teach and
learn about place values. This lesson turned out to be very successful, because on the post-assessment
almost all students performed perfectly on this section. I think that if I added the small math group
instruction during the previous lessons that this lesson would not have been required.
Lesson #7 Reflection:
Lesson seven was the first lesson that dealt with straight arithmetic. This lesson was structured
the same as the majority of the previous lessons, but involved more walk-throughs by students. In this
lesson I was forced to continue guided practice into independent practice problems. This was not an
issue, but the scaffolding was more drawn out for this lesson. Once students understood the concepts of
adding whole numbers by using regrouping there were very few residing issues for struggling students.
In this lesson I would still like to implement the small groups even though student performance was
proficient. I think these groups would have help every student attain mastery that very lesson.
Lesson #8 Reflection:
Lesson eight was very similar in content and structure to lesson seven. This lesson was on
subtracting while regrouping instead of adding. Students did not need much scaffolding to reach this
lessons objective because of the similarity to the previous lessons processes. Students achievement
during independent work was very accurate. I would again still like to add small groups in order to make
sure of all students mastery.

Professional Development Goals:


What I did well in each lesson was creating an environment that allowed for discussions.
I used team or group activities, and collaborative wrap-ups that allowed students time to reflect on the
information learned. I also used a variety of instruction strategies, such as; direct book instruction, small
group instruction, videos, songs, graphic organizes, and the use of manipulates. This diversity in methods
allowed me to teach all of my students to at least some extent.
My first goal for professional development is to be able to create an environment that does not
allow for down time. My transitions could be smoother, and thus saving time which would be perfect for
adding my small math groups. I would like to be organized enough so that when students grasp a topic
quicker than their peers they have another objective to complete, and then another after that. I was able to
do this more productively towards the end of my student teaching, but challenging early finishers can also
be more productive. I will achieve a higher level of efficiency when dealing with early finishers by
adding games such as; 24 for early math finishers. This game is a set of cards with four numbers on it.
The goal is to make the number 24 by using all four numbers and any math operation known. Games or
activities such as 24 will encourage focus in order to be able to play, and increase mental math skills.
Another way I will attain this goal is to talk with Dr. Vartanian about activities I can give the students to
eliminate down time. He always had great mind trumping games and activities for Math Pedagogy
class, and I am sure he will give me some ideas.
My second professional development goal is to be able to help every student that requires
assistance or more instruction in order to master the content. The time during independent work was my
most weak point in my lessons. All I was able to accomplish is assisting a few students who needed help.
There were a few students I was not able to reach in the time allotted for independent work. I will
achieve this goal by adding the small math groups. This will help me give all students a more personal
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EDUC 461: TWS #8

Professional Development

Jankouskas

and individualized instruction and hopefully help every student achieve mastery. Another way I could
achieve this is to give students more time and more activities for their collaborative group work. This
along with team competitions will help those strugglers who are also very competitive students grasp the
concepts being taught.