Day 13: The One with the Menu of Patterns

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It’s that time of the unit. Some kiddos are just starting to grasp the basics and need more practice. Some kiddos are getting impatient and rolling their eyes. This is compounded by the fact that many of our new kiddos are still being normed to being students at our school and that the honeymoon period has ended.

We give the kiddos a menu of options to choose from. The default is for most kiddos to start on the same practice one (which both has enough ambiguity to keep it interesting and allows them to keep practicing strong groupwork skills). I wanted to take a photo of one of the kiddos at work and they threw all the graphs into the middle. I’ve also noticed that lots of the kiddos like to staple the little papers we give them together. Go figure.2016-08-31 11.46.03

Objectives:2016-08-31 18.52.47

Day 12: The One With the Language Testing

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“Mister…did you do something to your room?”

The desks are in rows, which is apparently a contrast to the groups they’re normally in. More than one kiddo comments on it. So it must be a thing.

Every year, The State requires that we test our emerging bilingual students to see how much growth them make. In theory, it’s a good idea. Especially now that my first group of advisees are Actual Seniors, it’s crazy to hear them speak English and to see it somewhat actively reflected in their test scores.

It’s harder for the 9th graders, many of whom are extremely new. I reiterate several times (and still not enough) that this is really a practice and that it doesn’t affect their grades, but many of them are still so defeated. If nothing else, we lose a day of curriculum and many of the kiddos refuse to (or just can’t)  do work in the afternoon.

I thought I took a picture of the tables in rows, but it’s just as well.

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Day 11: The One Where Kiddos Make The Pattern

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It’s fascinating to see how kiddos generalize patterns (going from specific figures to one that can represent any figure in that pattern). I used to think that they needed to show rows or columns of x’s, but I think I’m more interested in them being able to label dimensions.

Photos: One kiddo’s work showing figures, a table, a graph, generalized figures and observations.2016-08-29 08.59.28-2

I’m co-advising a multicultural club again this year. Monday was our first meeting. Good attendance and lots of participation. I came back to find one of the kiddos and an older sibling sitting outside my door. Older sibling also texted me (from a new, unknown number) to ask if kiddo had turned in their homework on Friday. Touching.

Objectives:

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That part of community circle where we discussed our favorite food and the idea that adjectives go before nouns:2016-08-29 15.38.14

Notes:

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Day 10: The One With Multiple Representations

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After a few short days of extending patterns and reviewing graphing, we move into connecting patterns (Curriculum Partner and I briefly discuss changing the first box, “Picture”, to “Figures”, but then wonder what happens if and when we have a problem about rabbits and leave it as “Picture”). Kiddos work in groups to figure out representations of a pattern, then we come together as a class to talk about how to show Figure 0 (y-intercept as we’ll call it in 2 units) and growth (slope).

Photo: One kiddo’s representations. There’s a version in color, but it’s less artsy (for me; probably more artsy for them)2016-08-26 17.35.45-1

Objectives:2016-08-26 17.31.16

Day 9: The One With Graphs

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Thursday is also a Short Day (kiddo-parlance for early release days, where teachers stay afterwards and do professional development). Thursday’s PD ends up being time to work on our scopes-and-sequences, which we use to outline our courses in attempt to do some vertical alignment (vertical alignment being the staff-chosen yearly focus).

We spend Thursday working through graphs. Some of the kiddos can graph in their sleep. Some kiddos have never seen graphs. I try and make this explicit. We often frame this situation as such: some kiddos learned how to graph in their country, some did not (side note: this year, we’re viewing this through the lens of having the right to an education). It’s now time to remedy that. I appeal to kiddos who know how to graph to be empathetic and support those who don’t know how to graph yet. I appeal to kiddos who don’t know how to graph to try hard and ask questions. (Graphing isn’t really groupworthy, anyway.) We do an explanation quiz, again, where kiddos have to make the graph, then call me for a checkpoint. It feels like more of a familiar structure now. I remind myself that repeating structures often in the beginning of the year (and the rest of the year as our classes continue to grow) is important.

Photo: So many graphs.

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Objectives:2016-08-25 17.04.13

Notes:2016-08-25 17.04.07

Day 8: The One Where We Explain to Each Other

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The last time we taught this course, Curriculum Partner and I realized that there was power in making the kiddos explain problems to each other. So we gave them the steps to different problems, have them solve them and have them explain to each other. Quite a bit of English spoken and kiddos mostly seem excited to be talking to each other.

We also had them do an explanation quiz where they draw figures based off of Figure X and vice versa. The kiddos work in groups, complete a problem, then call the teacher. I quiz a kiddo at random. If the kiddo can explain correctly, they move on. If not, they get a chance to revise and retry. First explanation quiz of the year, so a bit rough, but a good start.

Photo: Kiddos explain parts of Figure X to each other. I’m not sure where the sandwich thingy came from.IMG_20160824_102114

Objectives:2016-08-25 07.33.27

Notes:

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Day 7: The One With the Patterns Stations

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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

Notes:

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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

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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?

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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.

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Day 5: In Search of Figure 75

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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?

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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.