Teacher-Researcher Spotlight: Claire Calderon

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Welcome to the first installation of the Teacher for Research & Feedback Spotlight Series. This month, we shine a light on Claire Calderon, a 7th/8th Grade Math Teacher at an urban, public school in Ohio. Claire talked with Product Associate Allishah Luke from the ASSISTments team about her experience contributing to education research. This is what she had to say.

Allishah: What do you love most about teaching math?

Claire: It's hard to choose just one thing I love about teaching mathematics…

Allishah: Completely understand that! How about your top two?

Claire: Well for one, I love when students make math connections, especially when they do it together. That moment when an 8th grade student or team notices a linear relationship is just a proportional relationship that doesn't go through the origin is so great. Another thing is when my students find a domain or concept of math that is their jam, especially if they had previously been turned off from mathematics. I had a student who, at first, didn't like math and then once he understood the Pythagorean Theorem concepts, he decided to make a video on it for his peers! That's a beautiful moment and something that will stick with him as he goes to high school.

Allishah: Wow I love that! Sounds like you’re a pro at this. When did you first start using ASSISTments?

Claire: I first discovered ASSISTments this summer when planning for virtual or hybrid instruction this (2020-2021) school year.

Allishah: I would have guessed you’ve been an ASSISTments user for years! What encouraged you to become involved in Teachers for Research & Feedback opportunities? 

Claire: My building is K-8 so I am the only 7-8 Math teacher, so I was excited to talk with other educators who use the same curriculum, as well as collaborate with the researchers. I'm passionate about improving math learning for as many learners as possible, and this seemed like something that would support that mission. 

Allishah: Do you remember the first thing that you signed up for and why?

Claire: I first signed up to help create Common Wrong Answer Feedback for students and Instructional Recommendations for teachers. [Instructional Recommendations give teachers alternate instructional practices to help mitigate common misconceptions in assigned problems] and then I became involved in the LIVE-CHART study [LIVE-CHART is a feature that allows teachers to synchronously watch and respond to students as they work on math problems]. I was initially interested because I saw they were seeking teachers using Open Up Resources for research opportunities, and I loved both the curriculum and supporting research. 

Allishah:  Let’s get a little more granular. Has Teachers For Research & Feedback changed your knowledge of the ASSISTments product and its features?

Claire: Teachers For Research & Feedback has really helped me see how I can better use ASSISTments to support my learners in my own classroom, especially in a virtual setting! 

Allishah: How has this newly gained knowledge helped to support your curriculum goals and learning objectives in the classroom?

Claire: Since I teach and assess using a standard-based mastery system, my work with Teachers For Feedback & Research, and the benefits of ASSISTments, have given me another set of data to be able to gauge when students are ready for mastery at different levels and where they might need interventions when they are not ready. I also talk with my students a lot right now about how hard it can be to see if they are understanding while we are virtual, so things like being able to see how long problems take and how many times they ask for answers is extremely helpful feedback in a time when it is much harder than normal to gauge for understanding.

Allishah: What about for you? How has this experience helped to support your day-to-day?

Claire: Personally, I feel more confident in using it as a tool to support my instruction because I have a better understanding of the mechanisms of the program that provide me with the data on how my students are doing with their problems.

Allishah:  I’m sure the readers want to know: Would you recommend Teachers For Feedback & Research opportunities?

Claire:  I would absolutely recommend Teachers For Research & Feedback opportunities! With my first experience, I found myself thinking more deeply about each problem than I had before -  in terms of exactly what knowledge students would need to have to answer it correctly (and what misconceptions might cause them to answer it incorrectly. In my second Teachers For Research & Feedback experience, I was able to think more deeply about the tools I choose to support my learners with specific content, which feels imperative given the circumstances of teaching and learning this year. And in every project, the massive benefit of being able to collaborate with educators, researchers, and mathematicians across the country passionate about learning mathematics was a joy.

Allishah: Thank you so much for during this interview and being the first Teachers for Research & Feedback spotlight! Any final words for new users of ASSISTments?

Claire: Ask questions if there is something that isn't working for you! Every thought and feature I have asked about has always been met with consideration. The ASSISTments team really wants the program to work for educators and students.

Teachers For Research & Feedback is an opportunity for ASSISTments teachers to elevate their expertise within the world of educational research as well as in the design and implementation phases for new ASSISTments features.

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