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University of Wyoming College of Education Implements Sanford Inspire Program

The College of Education at the University of Wyoming has begun implementation of the Sanford Inspire Program to help teachers improve their skills and expertise.

The College of Education at the University of Wyoming has begun implementation of the Sanford Inspire Program to help teachers improve their skills and expertise. The Mary Lou Fulton College of Education at Arizona State University developed the Sanford Inspire Program through a $28 million grant from businessperson and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.  Arizona State University also collaborated with National University in San Diego to implement the program throughout the United States.  There are currently 20 universities participating in the Sanford Inspire Program, which has impacted more than 175,000 students nationwide. The University of Wyoming is the most recent collaborative partner to implement the Sanford Inspire Program.

The Sanford Inspire Program consists of more than 80 short, on-demand, online video modules to further educate teachers on culturally diverse learners, differentiated instruction, classroom management, dealing with bullying and child abuse, handling parent involvement, etc.  The interactive modules are designed to help teachers inspire their students to believe in themselves and their abilities.  Each module is available online and is free to students, alumni, and teachers throughout Wyoming due thanks the generous philanthropy of T. Denny Sanford.  The University of Wyoming has signed on to implement the Sanford Inspire Program to improve education for all students in the state.

The College of Education will utilize the Sanford Inspire Program to add to the award-winning programs at UW that aim to prepare excellent teachers for the classroom.  Additionally, the Sanford Inspire Coordinator, Dr. Cody J. Perry, will gather data to determine the impact of the program and to guide future implementation.  The goal of the program is to ensure that Wyoming’s students are receiving the best education possible.  Nearly every person can name a teacher who inspired them and fostered confidence and self-acceptance.  The Sanford Inspire Program mission is to help more teachers become inspirational leaders in dynamic, stimulating classrooms that welcome diversity.

The modules provided by the Sanford Inspire Program will help students across the state to realize their full potential, regardless of background, race, or financial standing.  The program can be used to help teachers in remote rural areas who may not normally have access to high quality, research based professional development tools.  Therefore, students on the Wind River Reservation and in schools like Arvada Elementary School can benefit from the Sanford Inspire Program at no cost to parents, teachers, schools, or districts.  The Sanford Inspire Program aligns with the University of Wyoming Trustee’s Education Initiative to elevate the College of Education to a preeminent and nationally recognized program in professional educator preparation.  The College of Education and the University of Wyoming will utilize the Sanford Inspire Program to improve teaching throughout Wyoming.

For more information concerning the Sanford Inspire Program visit www.uwyo.edu/education/Sanford-inspire/ or email Dr. Perry at cperry12@uwyo.edu.

A Little Fun

A break from recent heavy posts with a fun quiz. How well will you score?

My recent posts have been a bit heavy and politically or religiously charged.  Today, I want to give my readers a break from the chaos of politics, religion, and other issues that incite argument and division.  Therefore, I have made a short quiz that is meant to be fun and incorporates history, math, and sports.  Good luck and have fun!

Please click here: Quiz

 

 

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Struggling with Receiving Charity

When we become transparent to others, we see God and ourselves more clearly.

I recently started a GoFundMe campaign, which has helped me substantially.  I have been able to keep things afloat for another few weeks and my appreciation of family and friends has grown more than I thought possible.  I will always be indebted to the people who have helped me, either financially or with their words of encouragement and prayers.  Yet, I am also struggling with feelings of guilt and inadequacy.  In my mind, I should be completely independent at this point in my life and should be helping others who are less fortunate than I am.  Therefore, I am very happy to receive financial gifts from my family and others, but also feel guilty that I am not in a position to help them instead.  Since I was young, I have dreamed of being able to help others.  This is one reason I strove to do so well with my years of education. When I was younger, I had wasted too many years living for myself and making mistakes that I wanted to become an educator to help and be a blessing to other people.   I figured if I attained a certain level of education, I would never be in a position to ask others for help.  Yet, this has not been the case.  Thus, I feel as if I have failed and that I could have done more, but I also understand that failure is not a destination, but a temporary location on the road to something bigger.  I am dealing with a battle of the psyche, where I vacillate between gratitude and optimism for the future with feelings of failure and insufficiency.  What I have come to learn is that these are natural feelings, but they also stem from pride.  When one thinks too highly of themselves, taking charity becomes more difficult because that person must admit that they are not good enough to solve their own problems.  They must admit that they have a need for others when all they want is to be needed.

Ambition is ironic.  Kept in check, it catapults people to their dreams, but unchecked it can become pride, which leads to a person being humbled by others.  Feeling that I should be able to help others cannot be realized until I know what it requires to ask for help.  Otherwise, I may feel that my charity elevates me above those who need my help.  I think I may be starting to see God’s plan in this situation.  I cannot reach out to those less fortunate until I am reminded that any of us could be in that situation at any given time.  I hope that my struggles will someday help others to overcome their obstacles and that I can always help people with a humble and generous spirit.

On a somewhat lighter note, I have joked about everyone saying the same things to encourage me, but I must say that those little snippets of wisdom have shown me that people truly care.  If it were not for the kind, encouraging statements from family, friends, and faculty, I would not have been able to navigate the rough waters of the past half year.  Sometimes, the smallest gesture of kindness and encouragement can mean the world to someone who is struggling through life.  You may not know what to say, but it is not about the words.  Encouraging someone shows them that you care, and this can be an indispensable gift when someone is struggling with their confidence and outlook on their world.

When we become transparent to others, we see God and ourselves more clearly.

Climate Change and the Christian Believer

Climate Change and why Christians should be open to discussion.

If one logs onto Facebook or watches the news, it will not be long before the issue of climate change becomes the focus of argument and debate.  Many Christians often give statements that closely mirror Representative Tim Walberg’s from a few months ago, “As a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us.  And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it” (Vox, 2017).

In today’s post, I want to discuss this issue and explain why Christians should be teaming up with scientists to help preserve the earth and a high quality of life for future generations.   As a Christian that loves science and the scientific method, I feel that I can shed some light on this issue as I understand things.  First, the argument that God can solve something is held by most Christians, but it does not stop most Christians from seeking medical help when they get sick or have a disease.  They believe that God has given doctors the talent, knowledge, and education to handle physical maladies.  Therefore, Christians should be open to at least discussing climate change with scientists, especially since they place their health in the hands of other scientists.

Second, the Bible and Christian principles, should motivate Christians to do more to make the planet a cleaner, safer place for everyone.  What is my basis for this?  God expects his people to be good stewards of the gifts that he has given them.  No Christian would believe that gambling or drinking away one’s entire paycheck is being a good steward of the gift of money from a job.  In fact, Christians believe that every gift comes from God and should be held with the utmost respect.  Why is it that the Earth would not also apply to this principle?  Christians believe that God created the Earth for man.  This would be considered one of the greatest gifts God has given his people.  Therefore, being a good steward of God’s gifts should lead Christians to want to take care of the Earth.  Additionally, most Christians will admit that God works through people in many areas of life.  Why would this be any different with the earth and taking care of our fresh water, ecosystems, etc.?  Christians should believe that God would work through people to help preserve the planet.

Finally, Christians should be well versed in scripture.  The Bible contains stories telling about one or a few people who have had profound effects on the blessings of future generations.  Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”  With this knowledge, Christians should be trying to help future generations, including trying to ensure that the skies are not polluted.  In parts of China, just walking outside is like smoking 2 packs of cigarettes.  Is this the legacy that we want to leave to our descendants?

Whether a person believes in the science behind climate change, Christians really do not need any more reason to protect the planet than their own beliefs. Rather than being at war with climatologists, Christians should be on the front lines to preserve the Earth. This may be rather controversial with some of the people I know and some of my readers, but I think Christians should be more open-minded to dialogue concerning these things.  God wants his people to be good stewards of every gift and to leave a good legacy for their grandchildren.  Isn’t it at least worth discussing for nothing more than these reasons?

Vox, L. (2017, June 2). Perspective | Why don’t Christian conservatives worry about climate change? God. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/06/02/why-dont-christian-conservatives-worry-about-climate-change-god/

 

Good Things About Winter

The good things about winter

I decided to do a second post today concerning winter weather.  My previous posts on the outdoors have been popular so I decided to try another gallery post (slideshow at end of post).

I tend to view things in a negative light and desire to be more positive and optimistic.  Normally, I groan and complain about the coming winter.  Therefore, I have decided to write about all the good things that come with winter:

  • Sledding
  • Christmas music (at least for a while)
  • Chili more often
  • 40 degrees is t-shirt weather
  • Watching others slip and fall (at least it wasn’t you, this time)
  • Snow Days (for kids and government workers or people in the south)
  • No mosquitoes or flies
  • Super Bowl (and commercials)
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • Thanksgiving (fall season, but winter weather here)
  • Everything looks better after a fresh snow fall
  • Coffee all day and hot chocolate
  • Lights, Christmas trees, Hanukkah, and other brilliant decorations
  • Pumpkin soup
  • Snow ball fights
  • New Year and new hope
  • Egg nog
  • Surviving temperatures of 62 below 0° is something a person can brag about and people want to know more
  • More family gatherings
  • Pecan Pie

Please share your favorite things about winter.

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Throw out the Multiplication Table!!! (Part 2)

Improving Math Instruction

Follow up to Friday

Last week, I wrote about my disdain for the multiplication table and its use in the classroom.  Today, I want to follow up with more information about the taped problems and cover, copy, and compare interventions.  I also want to take the opportunity to discuss a few other things that I have seen in the math classroom that can be modified or improved.

The cover, copy, and compare method was adapted from spelling for use in mathematics.  It has been used quite well in spelling and vocabulary in the past.  In last week’s post, I focused on alternatives to the multiplication table, but it should be noted that these are not limited to multiplication alone.  Taped problems and C, C, & C can be used for other math facts that need to be memorized for automatic recall.  These activities can also be used for division facts or for younger students trying to learn their basic addition and subtraction facts.

Precise Language:

In last week’s post, I wrote about using the term, multiplication, instead of using times.  It is important to use precise mathematical language as much as possible.  I think the biggest issue I see with this is how teachers and others refer to three digit numbers.  The number 124, should be pronounced one hundred twenty-four and not one hundred and twenty-four.  In math, the word “and” denotes a decimal point, so saying one hundred and 24 one-hundredths would be correct.  Misusing the word “and” becomes confusing to students, and the use of precise language can help to prevent this.

Flexibility in Math Procedures:

I am sure we have all seen an instance where a student gets her answers correct, but has used a different method than the teacher.  The student hears, “You got the right answer, but you did not do it the way I showed you.  Therefore, it is incorrect.  You have to do it the ‘right’ way.”  This is very frustrating for students and often stems from the fact that the teacher does not possess a strong understanding of math and its concepts.  There are numerous paths to the same answer in math and some methods can make more sense than others for students.  However, many teachers force the student to learn the one way that makes the teacher most comfortable.  Yet, teachers should be willing and able to meet students where they are, and must be flexible in how they approach problems.  In order to do this, teachers need to improve their math abilities and knowledge.  When I wrote my master’s capstone, I found at least 13 different algorithms to solve multiplication problems.  Teachers are not limited to a single method for solving problems and should be able to employ a variety of tools to help all students understand math.

Story Problems

To appreciate math, people need to feel that it applies to them in some manner.  Students need to see that math can be used in a variety of real-world scenarios.  The story problems in most textbooks do not come close to being authentic problems.  In fact, they are often so arbitrary that no one really takes them seriously.  In addition, many schools have outdated textbooks that include problems with objects that do not exist any longer.  For example, I have seen problems talking about a student going to purchase their favorite cassette.  Students today have never even heard of a cassette and this makes the problem that much more frustrating and useless.  It will take more work, but teachers need to consider writing their own story or word problems that reflect real world issues that students may face.  Additionally, teachers should consider using the names of the students in class to write their problems.  This gives students ownership and helps to make solving these problems more fun.  Here is one example:

Maria, Abdu, and Laa’iq were tired of playing basketball on a dirt field.  They found a donor that has agreed to pay for a concrete basketball court.  However, the three students must determine how much concrete is needed, what local companies charge to pour concrete, and how much the project will cost, as a condition of the donation.  Abdu has played basketball since he was very little and knows that a youth basketball court is 74 feet long by 42 feet wide.  Use this information to help Maria, Abdu, and Laa’iq get their new basketball court.

This problem will require students to solve math problems for area, volume, and cost.  In addition, they will need to use the internet or local resources to determine what concrete companies charge and what the total cost will be.  This problem is a real-world issue that integrates math, technology, and finances.  It is more robust and more authentic than most textbook problems.  My students have really enjoyed being able to do these types of problems.  I have used many similar problems in the 4th and 5th grade and found that students were able to calculate everything quite well if they were given enough time.  Moreover, they had ideas like asking volunteers to donate their labor and making a half-court to lower costs.

Stay tuned, in tomorrow’s post I will tackle climate change and Christianity.  Have a productive and joyful day.

Throw out the Multiplication Table!!!

The multiplication table should be thrown out and better methods used in its stead.

Before I begin today’s post, I must thank my brother, Doug Perry, for his generous gift to my GoFundMe campaign.  I wish I were the one helping my younger brother, but life has a way of flipping things around on us some times.

Now, I know there are many people out there that will read today’s headline and immediately say something to the effect of, “Well, that’s the way I learned it and that ought to be good enough for kids today.” Well, children used to have to suffer through scarlet fever, mumps, and polio too, but nobody uses the same logic in relation to taking their kids for their immunizations.

The fact is that children should not have to suffer through the boring, archaic ritual of the multiplication table.  And while we are at it, it is called a multiplication table and not a times table.  One part of the Common Core Standards is to promote accurate and precise language regarding mathematics.  One can multiply numbers, but they do not times them.  Every time I hear a teacher or parent say that, it makes me cringe.

While I know many of you used the multiplication table, you probably also remember how much you dreaded it when the teacher laid it in front of you.  Math should not be a tedious, nightmare inducing endeavor.  Besides, the multiplication table does not really help students memorize multiplication facts, it merely helps them remember them in a very specific order.  That is why many adults today can fill out the table in a matter of 30 seconds, but when asked what 9 x 7 is, they take more than 20 seconds to remember that one fact.  The multiplication table does not make multiplication automatic, merely formulaic.  The other issue with the multiplication table is that if a student writes down a wrong answer and it is not caught right away, they continue to practice it that way and then they have remembered the wrong answer for life.

What can be done instead?  I have used two others methods with great success:

Taped Problems: This technique uses a piece of paper with anywhere from 25 to 144 facts on it. The teacher pre-records an audio file (mp3) that reads each fact, pauses for 1-2 seconds and then reads the answer to that fact. This method offers a couple of benefits.  First, if students do not immediately know the answer, they can wait for the recording to tell it to them.  This prevents students from learning incorrect answers and prevents them from feeling the anxiety of not knowing the answer. Additionally, if a student knows the answer and can write it before the recording, they are given a sense of victory, which boosts their confidence.  Secondly, the mp3 file can be emailed home with extra answer sheets.  A few minutes of practice each night is easy for both parents and students and no one has to hear complaints about the dreaded multiplication table.  As students’ skills improve, the teacher can re-record the audio with less time for each answer.  I know, I know.  That is cheating.  You gave them the answer.    I want them to have the answer. Having the answer allows them to learn the answer and remember it forever. Before I started this intervention with a 5th grade class, my students averaged 68% accuracy for 100 problems and it took them an average of 9 minutes to complete all the problems.  Now, these students had all had the multiplication table the year before and had supposedly “mastered” multiplication, but all they had mastered was a chart.  After using taped problems for 2 minutes per day in class, and 4 minutes per day at home, the average accuracy rose to 98% and the average time to complete was 2 minutes and 11 seconds.  The students’ confidence level shot up, their test scores increased dramatically, and they didn’t dread multiplication like many students do.

Cover, Copy, and Compare: This method uses a piece of paper folded in half lengthwise. The multiplication facts or problems are written on the front half of the sheet and students go down the column filling out their answers.  If they are unsure or just want to double check that they are right, they merely need to flip up the folded paper to reveal the problems with answers below.  Again, this prevents anxiety for students and ensures that facts are not erroneously recorded on paper to be committed to memory.  Also, students love this because they have the answers and it seems almost too easy.  Yet, before they know it, they have learned all their facts and many can answer any multiplication fact more quickly than their parents.  It was always so thrilling for me to hear students tell me they had challenged one of their parents or older siblings to a multiplication race and won rather easily.

Many times, in education and in life, we do something because that’s the way it has always been done.  However, just because something appears to be tried and true, does not mean that it is the best way.  So, the next time you think about using the multiplication table, don’t.  Throw it out or burn it.  Taped problems and cover, copy, compare will take more initial work on the teacher’s part, but it will pay huge dividends in the long run.  Your students will thank you for it.