Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

Reading Comprehension and Evaluation – Objective vs Biased Writing

June 1st, 2021 | Comments Off on Reading Comprehension and Evaluation – Objective vs Biased Writing | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

All teacher candidates wonder how to score their best on certification exams, whether they are taking the MTEL, FTCE, Praxis, or another state test. Each certification exam includes a reading comprehension section. Even the best readers often shudder when approaching this subject matter. What if your interpretation is different than what the text means? Can you even prepare for the reading comprehension portion of the exam?

Yes, you can. After reading the presented passage, one of the first things to do is determine whether the text is objective or biased. This will help you understand what you will be asked in the question portion of the exercise. 

Evaluating the intent behind a written passage is beneficial not only on your certification exam but also when reading an article in a magazine, the newspaper, or online content. 

Here are just a few facts to look for when reading a passage to decide whether factual or opinion-based writing.

Objective Writing 

  • The language in the text is neutral, and the writer does not “take sides” on an issue.
  • Both pros and cons are presented, or “all sides” of the topic.
  • Multiple sources for and against the subject are offered.
  • The writer’s opinion includes supporting facts, and all relevant information is included.

 

Biased Writing

  • The writing is often emotional and leans toward the opinions of only one side of an argument or issue.
  • The writer’s claims or statements are usually unsupported with facts.
  • The only sources used are those that support the writer’s opinion.
  • Facts and information from the opposing side are missing.

 

When you determine the difference between the two types of passages in an exam or other setting, it is easier to draw the appropriate conclusions in the writing and answer related questions in the manner that the examiners have pre-determined.

Check out our teacher certification exam prep courses to learn additional ways to improve your scores on your teacher licensure exam. It can be done!

Sample MTEL65 Middle School Math Open Response

May 14th, 2021 | Comments Off on Sample MTEL65 Middle School Math Open Response | Certification Prep, Math Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

MA DESE is updating many MTEL exams over the coming year.  As of the end of May, the MTEL 47 Middle School Math exam will be replaced by the MTEL 65 Middle School Math exam.  This is a welcome change for many as many of the more difficult concepts, including calculus and discrete math, were removed for this new exam.  There will still be two open response questions on this MTEL exam and one is quite different than the previous exam. Here is a quick sample problem with a response.  For more information on preparing for this exam, please check out our full-length, MTEL prep comprehensive course with unlimited expert instructor support. (www.prepforward.com/mtel-massachusetts)

The following is a sample problem for Objective 14 on the new MTEL 65 exam. 

Standard: The Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework for grade 7 provides the following content standard:
Expressions and Equations (7.EE)
1. Apply properties of operations to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients.

Problems

1. Solve for x:  3x – 7 = 2/3
2. Factor  x2 + 4x + 4
3. Simplify  6(-x + 0.5) 

Assignment
Analyze standard 7.EE.1.  Identify related prerequisite concepts and skills.  Critique whether the problems listed above are aligned with the content standard. Provide your own problem with different representations to teach the standard. Explain your reasoning.

 

Here is a sample response for the above problem. 

The 7th grade standard under Expressions and Equations involves an application of the properties of operations to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients. Therefore, a student must understand associative, commutative, and distributive properties as a prerequisite. Furthermore, as the coefficients are rational, a student must be comfortable with all the operations with rational numbers, including negatives, fractions, and decimals. Finally, students must understand how to identify if two expressions are equivalent. 

Given Problems:

1. Solve for x:  3x – 7 = 2/3
2. Factor  x2 + 4x + 4
3. Simplify  6(-x + 0.5) 

There were three sample problems given for teaching this standard. Unfortunately, the first sample problem does not fit under this standard as the problem asks the student to solve an equation, which is a concept that is taught later as this standard only deals with expressions. The second sample problem also does not fit under this standard as it is not a linear expression, but a quadratic expression. The third sample problem is an appropriate question to ask students under this standard. 

In addition to problems similar to the third sample problem, one part of this standard is teaching students to use the distributive property to find equivalent expressions.  An area model will help students visualize this.  A sample is included below.

In this problem, a student would be asked to simplify 3(2x + 5).  Using the area model, they would be asked to find the area of each rectangle and then add them together to find the total area of both rectangles. 

 

 

Using Social Media in the Classroom

April 15th, 2021 | Comments Off on Using Social Media in the Classroom | Inclusive Teaching, Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

If you teach young people ages ten and up (and often younger), it is a given that they are attached to their phones at every opportunity. Why not take advantage of social media in and out of the classroom to engage your students in a different and exciting way?

Many educators view social media as a nightmare to be tolerated, but it can be useful – and promote learning – in the proper context. Try one or more of these recommendations to tickle the interest of your students in a new way. It is an excellent opportunity for students to interact who may not feel comfortable speaking up in class.

Create a Class Blog
For a twist on traditional writing assignments, have students share their writing online in a class blog. Writing online where everyone in the class sees it can foster classroom community and teaches online communication basics in a blog format. Require classmates to comment on posts.

Write Twitter Summaries
With a limit of 280 characters in 2021, it can be challenging to get your point across via Twitter. Sharpen your students’ writing skills by having them “tweet” a summary of a poem or chapter, answer a question, or write a really short story within the character constraints.

Classroom Facebook Page
Although Facebook is no longer the “in” social media platform for most youngsters, use it to create a class forum by posting homework assignments, school activities, and contact information. Include parents, too.

Social Media Profile
Make history come alive by having students create social media profiles for historical figures, whether they are handwritten or posted to Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Classmates can post comments and ask the person questions, requiring the poster to have extensive knowledge of the historical figure.

 

As with all online communication, it is essential to ensure that everyone follows the school’s rules for acceptable use policies. It may also be prudent to download monitoring software to notify you of at-risk behavior and protect students from cyberbullying.

Since students are online so much anyway, why not incorporate it in the classroom? It is easier than you think, and your class may surprise you with their creativity.

Professional Development for Teachers – COVID Edition

March 29th, 2021 | Comments Off on Professional Development for Teachers – COVID Edition | Certification Prep, Inclusive Teaching, Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Not only has the pandemic affected instructors, students, and families around the world profoundly and unexpectedly over these last 12 months, it has created a multitude of other educational concerns. From computer access and proficiency to lack of socialization to innovations in teaching safely in-person, online, and in a hybrid setting, many issues must necessarily be addressed sooner rather than later.

One problem directly involving teachers is continuing education or professional development credits. Opportunities for district and state workshops, conferences, seminars, and retreats have been limited or altogether canceled over the last year, which may cause challenges for many teachers who do not have enough credits for their upcoming recertification.

The specific number of professional development hours required by state varies but may range from 50 to 120 credit hours over a five-year period. If you are one of the teachers who tends to wait until the last minute, you may be worried about how you will get in the hours you need before your time is up.

Fortunately, there are continuing education options online. Subjects are diverse and include core subjects like reading, writing, and mathematics, and working with students with disabilities in an inclusive classroom, as well as a myriad of other topics. You will find these options through many universities or companies such as PrepForward (www.prepforward.com).

With uncertainty still looming for the rest of this school year and, indeed, for 2021-2022, now is the perfect time to explore professional development options. Take a few minutes to browse online to find subjects that interest you and that will help you be a better educator.

Sign up for a course or two now or plan for the summer to ensure you have the time you need to register and complete a class and gain the hours necessary to maintain your certification status.

Praxis Test I and II Today

February 4th, 2021 | Comments Off on Praxis Test I and II Today | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Becoming an educator is not for the faint-hearted. Not only must you complete your college courses with acceptable scores, but you are also subjected to one or more licensing exams that you must score well on before you receive your teaching certificate. 

If your state requires Praxis exams for teacher licensure, it can help to understand what type of tests are needed and what you will be evaluated on. Initially, the Praxis consisted of the Praxis I and Praxis II exams.

The Praxis I or PPST (Pre-Professional Skills Test) consisted of three different tests covering mathematics, writing, and reading. A passing score for each exam was required. The Praxis I was offered through the fall of 2014.

The Praxis II also had three separate components that included Teaching Foundation, PLT or Principles of Learning and Teaching, and Subject Assessments in various subject areas.

Today, the Core or Core Academic Skills for Educators is administered in place of the Praxis I but still covers math, writing, and reading basics. This exam is only offered via computer and incorporates multiple-choice questions as well as two essays.

Testing for Subject Assessments remains the same. The Educational Testing Service offers practice tests in each subject area for a fee.

Testing fees vary for each exam and are not cheap. If you must re-take an exam, you must pay the testing fee again, so it is best to be well-prepared the first time. Take an online refresher course if needed. PrepForward has several options that include all major subject areas.

While most states in the U.S. require the Praxis, some have other requirements. For example, Massachusetts requires the MTEL, and Florida utilizes the FTCE.

No matter what exams you must take to finalize the licensing mandates in your state, it pays to be prepared. Learn which tests are required for the state(s) in which you will be teaching and when they are offered and start studying well in advance. You will be in your own classroom before you know it!

MA DESE is Updating MTEL Teacher Certification Exams

January 7th, 2021 | Comments Off on MA DESE is Updating MTEL Teacher Certification Exams | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

No matter what state you hope to teach in, potential educators in their junior year of college should begin planning for taking teacher certification exams. Your college advisor can help you determine what tests you need to take, or you can research the state education website to decide the most suitable time to take them. Early consideration can be quite beneficial, particularly if you lack specific skills and knowledge evaluated on the tests.

For Massachusetts residents who will take MTEL licensing exams in 2021 or 2022, it is essential to note that many of the tests are undergoing redevelopment. Numerous MTEL tests are being updated, and others are being introduced. This can affect your preparation strategy. 

When you learn which exams you must take, explore the MTEL site to know which ones are subject to change and if yours will be affected. The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure website offers various helpful tips for exam preparation, from videos to practice tests and tutorials. They also provide information about online courses that can assist you in areas where your skills may not be as strong.

PrepForward is the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s only preferred provider for MTEL prep courses.  You may want to take test preparation courses in areas that you may not feel as confident about or for a comprehensive review before sitting for exams. The earlier you learn about your required exams, the better prepared you will be.

While taking these exams is no doubt stressful, early and all-inclusive preparation is vital for not only peace of mind but also receiving a passing score. Learning what you need to do if you do not pass is just as crucial. Knowing what to expect beforehand can help you do well and save you the cost of re-taking your exams.