New Teachers: Three Things They Didn't Teach You in Education School

Vicki Davis with Dana Dunnan

picDana Dunnan went to one of the finest education schools in the country, yet he feels there is much he was not taught. In this BAM! Radio segment he shares with new teachers, some of the pivotal lessons you won't likely learn in education schools. I hope you find it interesting.


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Whether you have attended a recent professional development opportunity provided by your school or school district or have attended a national conference, you need to keep the conversation going. Here are a few suggestions to help keep the high energy needed at this time of year.

  • Stay connected.  Use social media to find others who share your passion.  Use Twitter and add folks to create a PLN, personal learning network.  Make a commitment to check your account at least once a day.  In just a few moments, you may be able to discover a new strategy or an idea spoken will spark an idea of your own.
  • Share information you gained through your attendance with others.  Whether you discuss things with the teacher next door or post to an online forum, you are helping to share what you have heard, read, or seen.
  • Be a leader at your school. Be positive about change and the achievement it can bring.  Share your passion, your dedication and you can inspire others to do the same.

I had the opportunity to attend our South Dakota Math and Science Conference Feb. 6-8 and wanted to share the work of one of our guest speakers. Fawn Nguyen (pronounced win) teaches math at Mesa Union Junior High in southern California. She is a co-founder of the Thousand Oaks Math Teachers' Circle. In an effort to share and learn from other math teachers, Fawn blogs at Finding Ways to Nguyen Students Over and authors 3 other websites, including Visual Patterns, Math Talks, and 180 Days of Math at Mesa. Fawn is very open to sharing all she is doing with her students and was excited when I asked if I could blog about her here in the Thinkfinity Community.


As I thought about the I Teach group, I knew that many of you aren't about the math, but many of her strategies apply to all content areas. Some of her comments that stuck out for me include:

  • When working in small groups be sure to provide the individual think and work time telling students to be very quiet and never blurt our that they are done or they got the answer. This stops the thinking of all others in the group.
  • When sharing in small group, no one speaks twice before everyone speaks at least once

So simple yet so important for the learning to be powerful for ALL students.

  • When looking for Hallmark problem solving tasks - it should be simply stated without steps being provided, the solution should not be obvious, should have more than one strategy for solving, and should be one that you the teacher enjoyed solving.

Below are all the work of Fawn Nguyen. I hope you find value in her sharing:


Blogging: - Fawn provides instructions, reflections, images, and videos about lessons she and others provide their students in the classroom. You will love this. She has taken on the thinking of Dan Meyer who recommends stripping away all the steps and just provide a task for students to solve. Her process is:(This process  is what  all of our SD Counts teachers practicing Cognitively Guided Instruction use also)

  • Individual work time (this could be as much as 30 minutes) - she doesn't grade this
  • Small Group Work
  • Large group share out

She also provides a weekly PS (problem to solve) which is due a week from today. She finds these great for students to work on and discuss with their parents and friends to find the all the answers possible if their is more than one correct answer or to find as many strategies as possible to solve the task.


Visual Patterns-  In this site you will find over 100 patterns that you may share with your students to work through, determine the nth pattern and the equation. She also provides students created patterns, videos of students and teachers at work and her form that she uses to assign the visual patterns to her students.


Math Talks - To learn how Fawn does the Math Talks, visit this link before you begin looking through her 10 weeks of math talks.


180 Days of Math at Mesa- This is a journal of Fawn's 180 days with her 6th grade math students - what she does each day, what the students are doing, and how that all worked.


I hope after visiting Fawn Nguyen's sites you will be as impressed and excited as I was to share and try the various problems provided. She has also shared her resources that were used while with us in SD. h


Fawn invites you to twitter with her also @fawnpnguyen.

When I saw the poster sessions at FETC 2014 in Orlando, I immediately realized it would be a useful strategy for the classroom.


What is a poster session?  Poster sessions are informal, used at meetings and conferences as a way to share items of interest to conference attendees. The specifics of their presentation are 'published' on posters that sit adjacent to where they will share their message and/or hand outs.  The presenter ha a set amount of time to present information to colleagues and must be prepared to answer questions. Presentations may be only 5 minutes long or up to 30 minutes and can be shared multiple times. People are able to move around, depending on their interests and attend other poster sessions during the time allowed.



Poster sessions can be used in the classroom!  What about the next time you assign a research paper?  Have students research a topic and present it to classmates.  Have a rubric that would include organization, content and presentation as key assessment items.


How about a book report?  Students can share the title, author, and what they enjoyed most about the book.  For non-fiction book reports, have students include 3 key facts learned from reading the book.




A few things to consider...

  • Not everyone can share at the same time.
  • Have those viewing use post it notes and leave a comment for each presenter.
  • Use class time wisely.  Large group sharing of one student's efforts at a time are a thing of the past.
  • Create a Google form for students to complete after the activity to get feedback and a sense of what the students gained from the experience. Take a look at a previous post, Customizing Google Forms.

How would you use a poster session in your classroom?  Any additional suggestions on classroom management for this strategy?







Information from IASA.