Avance 2014-15

Here are a few of my accomplishments from the 2014-15 school year at Academia Avance Charter School.

Teaching responsibilities:
taught 7 sections:
2 sections Acellus including physics A seminar during spring semester
2 sections physics B
2 sections chemistry
1 section website programming languages

RTI:
The chemistry class rosters included a number of struggling seniors. Of particular note is Jose Carrillo. Jose has been struggling with personal issues and low self worth. I took Jose under my wing last year and counseled him in anger management, fault finding, and tried to help him believe that he has an important role in society. This year, Jose had a breakthrough when he suddenly realized he could understand chemistry (a graduation requirement). He went on to EARN an A in chemistry and an A in remedial math. At graduation I told Jose, Julio Mundo and Alexis Chavez that they not only proved to the world that they are smart, but most important, they proved to themselves that they can accomplish great things. I got hugs from all. This is what it makes it all worthwhile.

Common core:
Common Core teaching standards for science are not yet available. However, I taught a simplified taxonomy of Common Core Depth of Knowledge to all my academic classes;
Level 1: REMEMBER, recall, repeat
Level 2: APPLY, use methods & flow charts to solve problems
Level 3: EXTEND knowledge and methods to problems which are similar in nature but different in their details
Level 4: CREATE, find new ways of using knowledge to analyze new and different problems

Pedagogical methods and lesson essentials;
The greatest challenge I have faced in teaching at Avance is rooted in the fact that most students have extremely poor memorization skills and are not able to determine on their own what is important and must be retained. My students know my warm ups are from memory {FM}. When class starts, I pass out index cards and students are told to answer the prompt. When I stamp the cards of the self-starters, most students start to write.

A typical prompt is; “{FM} Write the general equation for the equilibrium constant. Write the equilibrium constant equation for the self ionization of water.”

Depending on the response, I either collect the cards or re-teach. At the end of the lesson, I summarize and ask the class what they think the next warm up will be. This exit discussion is predictive {Pred} and forces students to identify the central theme or most important fact.

I include blended learning with short instructional youtube videos followed by questions and answers.

Web-centricity, blended learning.
Web centricity is the buzz word of modern teaching. I’ve been developing ways to structure lessons online so that students may review content. My website, Math Science Resources, is a work in progress. I communicate important information such as quiz reminders and links to study guides using MailChimp.

Math Science Resources | Teaching aids, Lesson Plans and…
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I’ve developed some online quizzes including automatic grading, but due to bandwidth limitations I have not been able to quiz the class as a whole using Chromebooks. Instead, I have used quizzes as an instructional resource. This example quiz includes explanations. Just choose an obviously incorrect answer to see the correct answer and its explanation.

Chem Q4 Benchmark practice quiz | Math Science Resources
Chem Q4 Benchmark Study Guide Time limit: 0 Quiz-summary 0 of 20 questions completed Questions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Information
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It is important to implement blended learning. To this end, I have created posts combining lesson basics with short instructional youtube videos followed by questions and answers to ensure students pay attention to the video content.. One lesson I believe meets the instructional goal and implements the core ideas of blended learning is; Physics unit 12: the nature of Light | Math Science Resources

Physics unit 12: the nature of Light | Math Science Resources
Learning Objective: Understanding the basic nature of light Standard: PH 5 Warm up: {Predictive, Diagnostic} What is Light? Is light a wave or a particle?
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This lesson starts with introductory background, warm up, followed by lecture (direct instruction), a short instructional video followed by questions relating to the video, guided practice, independent practice, a challenge problem, an exit which is the simple version of the challenge problem, and reference-what you need to know.

WebSite Programming Languages
Earlier in the year I proposed a new course in website programming languages. This course was approved by UC Doorways without modification. While the appeal of this course may be ‘geek coolness’ the motivation is that webmastering is a growing career field. The US Department of Labor Statistics estimates that by the year 2022 there will be 22,000 US jobs for web development (of which webmastering is an essential technical component). This course is unique in that it goes beyond the scope of traditional high school computer science electives which center on C++ and C++’s cross platform cousin Java. The first semester curriculum includes an introduction to html, CSS, php, and Javascript. I added mini-lessons on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a professional level topic which is rarely touched on even at the college level but which is essential in ranking a website in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). SEO is particularly relevant in light of Google’s recent mobil-readiness algorithm update know in the industry as “MobilGeddon”.

During this course students not only learned website programming languages but also learned to organize and develop a code library. The output of this course is a code library which students retain for future use and continued development. Students created personal, free accounts in an online, cloud-based Integrated Design Environment (IDE) – Cloud 9 (c9.io) and created webfiles to satisfy project assignments.

Students were highly engaged and displayed great aptitude and creativity in their web projects. One example is Luis Navarro’s website which I hope you will enjoy exploring (see “Code Library “The Wheel of Fortune”).

Testing and metrics:

MAP testing: 100%

Benchmarks:
In place of CST’s as a metric of student and teacher performance, I created Data Director benchmarks as a metric. The Chemistry benchmark was composed of CST level questions and represents a baseline of minimum learning. Data Director does not contain questions for Physics B topics so I generated a benchmark using CST questions, AP level questions and a few question of my own creation. The Physics test is significantly more difficult than the Chemistry
CST based test. In both cases a majority of students scored at an advanced level of performance.

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In summary, I feel that I have made major contributions to Avance in the key areas of; effective pedagogy, student skill development, RTI, Common Core, and web-centricity for the 20th Century learner.

Bill Weissbard
Phone #: 818-601-4873
e-mail: weissbard@sbcglobal.net

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