Featured GWTEACH Student: Fiona Walsh.
Fiona Walsh, a junior in the GWTeach program studying mathematics, is currently taking GTCH 3103: Project-Based Learning, or PBL. PBL is an innovative lesson model in which students engage with real-world problems, learning content material through the production of a project that serves as a solution.
Walsh's interest in teaching was initially prompted by a love of tutoring her friends who struggled with math.
"I decided I wanted to teach because I have a lot of love for math and find that people don’t share that love because they haven’t had proper math education," describes Walsh. "Tutoring in high school and college has helped me see that the best way to share that love is to teach someone about the subject so that they can see the beauty in it."
However, Walsh's decision to become a teacher was not solidified until she was able to lead her own classroom.
"I spent the last summer as a teaching fellow at Breakthrough Cincinnati, where I had my own classroom and had the best teaching experience I’ve ever had," remembers Walsh. "After my six weeks teaching 7th graders math, I knew that I wanted to teach as my career straight out of college."
After this monumental summer, Walsh decided to apply to the Noyce program. The Noyce Program supports students with $20k in scholarships for every 2 years pledged to teach in high-needs school districts.
"The Noyce scholarship helped me commit to that goal of making teaching a career path for myself," states Walsh.
As a student in PBL, Walsh teaches Algebra II to 10th and 11th graders at Ballou High School.
"I am so happy to be teaching this course because it is the course that helped me start to love math when I was in high school!" exclaims Walsh. "My project is creating a Thanksgiving recipe book that can be adapted for any number of people, because I and all of my students come from different families and backgrounds. We all have different numbers of people at our Thanksgiving parties! There isn't really a cookbook out there for diverse families."
Walsh's students must use their Algebra skills to create these cookbooks, ultimately learning how to use rational functions in their daily lives.
"We wanted to create a cookbook so that you can plug in x for the number of servings you need, and you get the exact amount of each ingredient that you need for your party. This project will involve converting recipes into rational expressions and learning about food waste."
Implementing a PBL lesson, a new lesson model teachers and students may not be used to, comes with both its rewards and challenges. For Walsh, trying out PBL has been a whirlwind of both!
"The best part of leading a PBL classroom is seeing students engaged in creating an artifact that is really important to them. With my project, students get to choose which recipes to adapt, and they are all working on dishes that are important to them with significant family or cultural history.
"The biggest challenge in leading a PBL classroom is incorporating state standards and objectives into a project. The goal of PBL is to have students learn through their projects, and this can be a challenge with abstract topics in math."
However, Walsh has taken her PBL challenges in stride. She plans to share her learning experiences from PBL with other GWTeach students taking GTCH 3102: Classroom Interactions as a Peer Mentor in the GWTeach Office next semester.
"Luckily, I have a lot of support from my classmates, instructors, and mentor teacher," states Walsh. "Take every lesson as a learning experience for both you and the students! Remember that you are a student too, and when you make a mistake, you can learn from it and come back as a better teacher than before!"
Interested in the GWTeach program? GWTeach courses are open to all students at GW, so sign up for a Spring 2020 GWTeach class via BanWeb today!
- Wednesdays, 8:00AM-9:15AM (76923)
- Wednesdays, 11:10AM-12:25PM (76922)
- Mondays, 8:00AM-9:15AM (73982)
- Wednesdays, 12:45PM-3:15PM (74629)
- Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:35AM-10:50AM (75672)
- Fulfills Quantitative Reasoning Requirement
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