Mr. Germanis' Class Website

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Mathematics Teacher
Decatur High School

Federal Way Public Schools
2800 S.W. 320th Street
Federal Way, WA 98023

Who is Mr. Germanis?

I have claimed Washington State as my home for my entire life. I grew up in Federal Way where I was heavily engaged in my community. After graduating high school, I moved to Bellingham to earn a BS in Mathematics at Western Washington University. Most weekends, you could find me at a local coffee shop sipping on coffee studying for an upcoming exam. Immediately following my undergraduate education, I attended Seattle Pacific University to earn a Masters in Teaching Math and Science. In my free time, I like to explore the local shops. I consider myself a foodie, so I enjoy finding niche places that have amazing food. In the summer, I like to find hiking trails and winter time if perfect for skiing. My interests range greatly, I always seek to understand how things work. As a young child, I was fascinated by the mystery and illusion of magic tricks. I wanted to know how they worked since they amazed me so much. My amazement in magic tricks soon lead to my drive to understand how mathematics worked. Near the end of my college experience, as my math skills improved, I was challenged (and yet again fascinated) by how computer programming works as they relate to mathematics.

Interest and Experience in Education

Algebra was one of my favorite subjects in high school, I enjoy learning new tricks for math and problem solving. My interest in mathematics has fluctuated many times as I struggled to understand challenging topics, but there was always a drive to learn more. One skills that I’ve noticed in myself is the ability to simplify challenging ideas into “bite size” pieces of information and working with others to make logical connectives. My interest in teaching is derived from these two passions, helping other and a drive to problem solve.

Throughout my college career, I’ve sought out opportunities to work with students to connect these passions, particularly with high school and middle school students. I worked as a summer day camp counselor planning morning workshop sessions. Interests for students ranged from sports to chemistry to theater. Later that year, I worked in a middle school math class in Sedro-Wolley, WA. I noticed students craving great instructions and watched as my skills help improve theirs. In my pursuit of education, I found an opportunity to work with teachers at my former high school to teach a preparation class for students who were preparing for the AP Calculus AB course. My volunteer experience confirmed my decision to work with high school students teaching math, I am excited to continue my journey of becoming a professional educator.

Philosophy of Teaching in Public Education

Writing in Mathematics

Writing for understanding is a researched based skill that helps students reflect on their learning. Documenting and clarifying understanding in writing helps students form ideas. I firmly believe that to understand a skill, one must be able to communicate that idea to another person. Journal reflections are a daily part of a mathematics classroom because student think about their understanding and explain their skills in writing to an audience (themselves and the teacher). Reflection is also highly meta-cognitive, students must self assess their knowledge and write their understanding. I have extended upon this idea in a technology rich classroom by using Google Docs for reflection journals.

Grading for Understanding

Understanding is a word used loosely in education and with the induction of standards based grading has become more firm over the years. I believe students must be able to demonstrate their understanding, for most on paper, but others through verbal communication or other visual means. Understanding means students are clear in their ideas. I use the following rubric to help guide my assessment of students understanding during performance tasks.


No Response
Unable to Start
Unable to Finish
Significant Gap in Understanding
Some Understanding
Significant Understanding
Almost Complete Understanding
Complete Understanding
0 Points
2 Points
4 Points
6 Points
7 Points
8 Points
9 Points
10 Points
Beginning Level
Almost Approaching
Approaching
Meeting
Exceeding
No attempt was made to solve the problem. The section is completely blank or has meaningless notes on the page.
The problem was not started, but the student has the facts of the problem written on the page. A solution is under consideration, but nothing substantial on the page.
Some progress was made, but not enough to yield a complete answer. Either the problem was stopped abruptly or significant gaps in understanding are apparent which prevented completing the task.
Problem solution was completed or almost completed, however there is significant error in understanding. Progress was made although it is clear that the student doesn’t understand the fundamental concepts of the problem.
A complete solution or parts of a solution are provided, although the student’s lack of understanding has lead to an incorrect line of thought. Fundamental understanding is hazy, yet some understanding of the task are demonstrated in the work.
The student provides a solution, although there are some errors or incomplete ideas. The student demonstrates most understanding relating to the problem, but is missing fine details to providing a complete response.
The student demonstrates complete conceptual understanding of the problem and solution. Very few small errors are made, which render an incorrect solution. Significant understanding is demonstrated.
The solution demonstrates complete understanding. The student demonstrates mastery of the topic and answers the question correctly and completely. There are no gaps in understanding.

* Color coding is used to assist parents and students who are visual learners to understand grading system in a usable way.


This grading scale is similar to standards based grading because it assesses students acquisition of skills based on a standard, yet it differs because the scale is on a 10 point scale which associates with a grade, however point attainment can be thought of exponentially, simple improvements differentiate between a 6 and 7 (not meeting standard and meeting standard) while the distinction between a 9 and 10 requires fine skills and demands complete understanding of technical skills. I strongly believe that each point awarded must be justified by the evidence that is presented. If I cannot justify a grade, I'm unable to aware the points.

Uncovering Understanding

In my teaching practices, I work to create inquiry based activities that challenge students misconceptions and UNCOVER information for students. Challenging students by their misconceptions and then providing rich learning activities which help them explore the idea further on a deeper level of learning helps make concrete connections. This type of instruction is challenging and requires persistence by both teacher and student, however in my research I have found that it is the most effective way to create long term learning.

Accomplishments and Achievements

KSTFlogo Mr. Germanis has earned a prestigious opportunity to work with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation as a Teaching Fellow, 2015 Cohort. Membership in this organization provides professional development for five years and helps new teachers become leaders within their teaching community. Click on the KSTF logo to learn more about this organization.




CSFlogo
As a college success foundation scholar himself, Mr. Germanis serves as an Alumni Board Member to serve the organization which helped to provide a successful college experience. Mr. Germanis serves on the Give Back Committee which encourages Alumni to contribute to the College Success Foundation, a scholarship and support network for students in secondary school and higher education. Click on the CSF logo to learn more about this organization.