Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Al Benbenek

Grade: 5

Location: Whitman, MA

Setting: Rural

Years Teaching: 29

What has been one of your biggest successes as a teacher?

I remember one boy in particular. He had his own tutor at another school. He was constantly in fights -- had a very troubled background. But he was so good in doing things with his hands. He was just a wonderful hands-on type of kid. We were doing an electricity unit where children make flashlights that they could turn on and off. Usually this project takes kids several days, if not more. Usually, you have to guide them along the way. This kid completed it in about 5 minutes. It was one of those experiences where you could see his self-esteem rise. He couldn't read as well as the other kids. He couldn't do things as well as the other kids, but his mind was really, really sharp. He could put things together in his mind that the other kids couldn't see. When kids like that are in your classroom, and the other kids can see it, they say, "wow!". The lights go on. It's really rewarding.

How would you describe your approach to teaching math?

I'm in the midst of change in the way I teach math. In science we've been promoting inquiry, having kids discover. I have not let kids discover enough in math. We've always followed the "this is the topic I'm going to teach" approach. And I would teach them the topic. I'd even try to teach them in lots of different ways, but I was more or less dictating what they were going to learn. Now, I'm looking at more ways to guide the activities, but have the kids discover the knowledge. This way they have the ownership. The power is in owning it.

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