Day 7: The One With the Patterns Stations


So, we’ve been making the kiddos draw patterns for a bit. Last time we taught this course, we decided we wanted to make the kiddos create their own patterns. And we wanted to do it with stations. Fond memories of this lesson (though in hindsight, many of them went the “Figure One has 1 square, Figure 2 has 2 squares” route. While it does help them make the connection, it’s super boring. Ya heard that, kiddos? Booooring).

Photo: One group knocking it out of the park. You can’t see it, but Black Fingernails is basically teaching 2 total newcomers how to speak English and how to make patterns at the same time. 2016-08-23 13.18.42

Objectives:2016-08-23 18.04.14


2016-08-23 18.23.07

Context: The Mathematics Twitter Blog-o-Sphere – a group of mathematics teachers who share their practice on the internet – is dedicating the month of August to writing a blog aday. It’s spearheaded by DruinOK. If you’re looking for ideas (and who isn’t?), prompts are here.

Day 6: The One with the First Reading Guide


The beginning of the year is always a new start, but it’s a big start. Bigger than I remember at the end of the year. While some of our kiddos from last year (especially the ones who arrived at the tail end) are showing tremendous growth in English and leadership, going through all of our structures, which will soon be familiar enough, always takes longer than I expect.

Today, Curriculum Partner and I introduced reading guides. The reading guide is a structure that we use a lot, but for many of our kiddos who have never seen it (or saw it briefly without perhaps fully internalizing it), this is a big step. The kiddos are supposed to take turns reading sentences and then work on related mathematics problems together. Today’s reading guide focused on patterns and extending them.

Photo: Typical work sample from today. What do you notice? What do you wonder?


Toothpick Patterns Reading Guide

We did our first community circle in advisory. Circles look a little different this year as a result of a training I went to this summer. Kiddos actually go around in a circle, which makes when they’re speaking easier to predict. We also talked a lot more about norms, so kiddos were a bit more respectful than usual.

Photo #2: Things that make kiddos feel safe and successful. What do you notice? What do you wonder?

2016-08-22 12.17.55

Today’s objectives:

2016-08-22 17.52.03Context: The Mathematics Twitter Blog-o-Sphere – a group of mathematics teachers who share their practice on the internet – is dedicating the month of August to writing a blog a day. It’s spearheaded by DruinOK. If you’re looking for ideas (and who isn’t?), prompts are here.

Why *am* I here?

I’m reading over one of Dan Meyer’s blogs. The post explores what differnet mathematics bloggers are interested in and care about and testify on behalf of. The question(s) at hand is “Why are you here? What is your project? How do you testify on its behalf?”

I’m struggling to come up with an answer. On the one hand, I’m not 100% sure what my project is. On the other hand, I have some ideas that are very unfleshed out.

One of the things I find myself wondering about (and to some extent, exploring in this blog) is all the things that prevent our kiddos from accessing and learning mathematics. To some extent, this feels largely influenced by my context (all recent immigrants, many with interrupted formal education), but also feels like a question that all teachers struggle with.

Part of this struggle is that these stories are not mine to tell. Legally, I don’t want to share too much about my kiddos’ lives, especially names and sensitive information. That being said, there are certain trends, situations and traumas that surface and it feels important to recognize them, think about them, and honor that our kiddos are dealing with (and persisting through) them.

Another part of this struggle is that it sometimes feels like I’m making an excuse. So many blogs focus on all the amazing resources that are available to students of mathematics and the amazing work that they are doing. So thinking about why students aren’t learning feels like a copout (sometimes). “Such-and-such student is dealing with (XYZ situation) outside of school, so how can I expect them to be paying full attention today?” One of the things that I’m trying to push myself on this year is recognizing that kiddos need a moment and also helping them to realize that, if they take that moment and are able to get “back on the horse” (0ne of my favorite expressions from Joyce Dorado), they can (and are expected to) finish their work.

Trying to find this balance is hard. Many of our students are dealing with gaps in learning (among other things. Among many other things). At the same time, there is a (much needed) push for asset-based thinking at our school and recognizing that our kiddos can do many things. So when we run into situations like “Gordon can’t read” or “Sara doesn’t know how to divide”, what do we do? My current approach is to name and honor things that kiddos are struggling with (backed by evidence, not just my own subjective wonderings), but recognize that there are ways to get them to where we need them to be (Side note: Gordon read part of the objectives last week, which is a nice reminder that things improve with time and effort and that 9th grade at a school for emerging bilinguals can be hard).

So that’s my project for now. Exploring things that stand in the way of our kiddos’ learning and thinking about how to get them over that bump.

Related but unrelated: Schools are looking at different ways to respond to student trauma in an effort to reduce suspensions. The article looks specifically at training teachers in de-escalation techniques and more pull-in support. Article here.

Context: The Mathematics Twitter Blog-o-Sphere – a group of mathematics teachers who share their practice on the internet – is dedicating the month of August to writing a blog a day. It’s spearheaded by DruinOK. If you’re looking for ideas (and who isn’t?), prompts are here.

2016-08-19 18.33.28

Day 5: In Search of Figure 75


Week 1 is over and in the books. We kept looking at patterns today to kick off our linear relationships unit.

Today, the kiddos used their patterns from yesterday to try to find Figure 75, which is a pretty big leap. Especially this early in the year when I don’t quite know all of my kiddos’ mathematical propensities and when speaking English to critique the reasoning of others is still somewhat scary (but not unrealistic) to our newcomers. There were some groups I wish I had pushed more and some that are starting to internalize class norms. There will be time enough for that, I guess.

Photo: Work from one of the kiddos who was pushing their group and almost finished with Figure 75 (this was her 2nd day in class). What do you notice? What do you wonder?

2016-08-19 12.32.02-1

2016-08-19 17.44.23

Context: The Mathematics Twitter Blog-o-Sphere – a group of mathematics teachers who share their practice on the internet – is dedicating the month of August to writing a blog a day. It’s spearheaded by DruinOK. If you’re looking for ideas (and who isn’t?), prompts are here.

Day 4: Number the Patterns


If yesterday was the first day of actual content, today was the first day of actual relevant content. (And groupwork absolutely counts as content, it’s just not as much in the content standards. Perhaps “timely” is a better word than “relevant”).

Our first unit uses pile patterns to look at linear relationships (side note: “patterns” is confusing enough for emerging bilinguals, so I’m dropping the “pile” and just saying “patterns”). It’s pretty visual and therefore accessible, which makes it a great starting unit. We also did our first participation quiz today. Kiddos work together on a group task while I monitor and try to highlight group behaviors that help move them forward (like pointing at specific parts of the pattern, working with their group in the middle of the table, leaning in so they can work together, etc). (Similar to Class Dojo, but on paper and thus subject to me getting distracted)

We’re off to a decent start, though I wish I had done some more explicit modeling on how to show patterns. Kiddos seem to be able to find the pattern relatively quickly, but showing their thinking around the pattern is tricky. Counting the number of squares in each part feels helpful.

Photo: Our opening and some patterns. What do you notice? What do you wonder?

2016-08-18 17.30.58

Objectives and opening:2016-08-18 15.34.49.jpg

I didn’t take photos of my participation quiz notes, but we’re doing it again tomorrow! (So wait until then?)

Day 3: The One With the String Challenge


First day of actual content. We plan a groupworthy task (I always have trouble with this word, for reasons I don’t quite understand) with the idea being that the kiddos will have an authentic need to work together and speak English. We select the string challenge (kiddos have to make 2D and 3D shapes out of string; everyone must touch the string at the same time). Many kiddos claim that we did this last year, which is entirely possible (though I swear the last time we did this was 2 years ago and I’m pretty sure our lesson plans will back this up).

There are some pretty cool moments that come up. It does actually prove to be challenging enough that kiddos struggle with it and need all of their group members (or, um, more, which is challenging since we’re still underenrolled) and the groups that tend to do best are the ones that speak the most English, or at least talk together.

Photo: Kiddos make a star (the only 2 dimensional shape on the list).

What do you notice? What do you wonder?2016-08-17 08.37.31

Openings and objectives:2016-08-17 17.14.11

Notes:2016-08-17 17.48.25

Day 2: The One with the School Values Posters


A week before school starts, we send out an all-staff email requesting magazines to make posters with. Because: Orientation. Because: School Values.

Following yesterday’s stop-and-go (which, ultimately, I think was successful), I’m ready for some meatier activities. We read about school values in the classroom (using some group structures, though reading is relatively groupworthy in and of itself for emerging bilinguals) and then make posters. Which is pretty amazing. Kiddos find photos, critique whether they are examples of the school values or not and then explain why (because I like to make kiddos explain things). Fascinating to see some of our 10th graders, who were initially much quieter, begin to step up.

What do you notice? What do you wonder?2016-08-16 17.32.20-1

One of my more favorite posters (protesting for Pluto is creating change, hunting fish is not):

2016-08-17 07.01.04


2016-08-16 17.32.37

Scaffolds for the class counting to 10 (if 2 kiddos speak at the same time, they have to start over):

2016-08-16 17.51.32

Notes which I am attempting to use to highlight the many ways that the kiddos are smart:

2016-08-16 18.07.07