Day 33: The One with 3 Reads

Maybe 3 summers ago, a colleague of mine did a session on the 3 reads protocol. The idea is to read a problem stem (a mathematics problem, but without an actual question) 3 times. First, the teacher reads and the kiddos look for the main idea. Next, the teacher or a student reads and the kiddos look for all the numbers and what they mean (Are they negative? What do they represent? and so on…). Then, the kiddos read and try to ask as many mathematical questions about the problem as they can. The teacher then either picks a question or reveals the question to be investigated.

Curriculum partner was out for the day, so I decided to give it a whirl.

It was surprisingly easy to set up. It also gave kiddos a way to cut through the wordiness of the problem by getting them to think about the main idea and then the numbers and how they were related. They could bring in the rest of the words as necessary, but they weren’t a barrier. I spent about half an hour the night before trying to find the perfect problem in several textbooks and just ended up writing a pretty standard (boring) problem. Which worked fine.

Definitely on the docket to try again soon.

Day 32: The One with the Who Can Vote? Reading Guide


We’re still building schema about what it means to vote in the United States. So many of our kiddos come from countries where voting is mandatory that the idea that people can’t vote or choose not to vote can be tricky. This also helps us push at the idea that, if not all people vote, some groups may be underrepresented.

There’s a video of this group reading and I wish I could post it here (silly free account). Working in the middle, reading aloud, pointing to the words, referencing group roles. Pretty cool.img_20160929_082620What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Day 31: The One With the Election Winners


We talk about authentic problems in mathematics education all the time. Following yesterday’s class vote, we give the kiddos all the data from 8 classes and have them pick the winner several different ways. First, we let them pick their own way of deciding and there are some cool methods, including one group which gives points for people who pick the candidate as their first choice and take away points for people who rank the candidate last.

As it turns out, regardless of which of the methods we use, the same person wins (I need to re-read the article we based this task on, which had several different, more complicated ways to pick a winner).

Picture: The data and an answer sheet2016-09-28-18-21-32-2What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Day 30: The One Where We Actually Vote


At some point, Curriculum Partner and I decide that our Mathematics of Elections unit should focus on local politics (more relevant to the kiddos, we hope) and actually involve an election of some sort.

Today, we made the kiddos read candidate briefs (today was also full of heavy election jargon academic language), pulled and adapted from a local paper (and re-printed during 2nd period prep when I found typos. Ugh). Kiddos then asked other people about their candidate. Then we voted.

Data analysis to follow.2016-09-27-19-07-36-1



What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Day 30: “He Doesn’t Even Know the National Anthem”


Our 9/10 mathematics class is divided into 2 years and this is the year where we took the Simplifying and Solving unit and broke it into 3 shorter units.

We move on to another new unit: The Elections Unit. Curriculum Partner and I decide that it would be super cool to take advantange of the US elections and talk about some of the mathematics behind them.

This means we are a) writing a 2-week unit from scratch (after heavily revising another 2-week unit) and b) trying to build schema around elections in the United States.

We have the kiddos write about the leaders in their country. How they get their power. If they support the people. If people like them. Then, they have to ask other kiddos about their country’s leaders and decide who they think the fairest leader is.

Some students from Guatemala claim that all people, including children, can vote in Guatemala (others disagree; as I recall, Ecuador passed a similar law a few years ago, though it is largely symbolic). Students from Yemen say that everyone can vote as well (though Wikipedia says there have been no elections in Yemen for a long time). All the students from [redacted] country in one class claim their leader is an idiot. “He doesn’t even know the national anthem,” spits one.2016-09-26-18-09-28-2

Day 28: The One With the Last Minute Video

Day 2 of the Simplifying Video (p) Project. The kiddos need to write a script and record themselves describing how to simplify a complicated expression with algebra tiles.

Having practiced using the script on Tuesday, writing the actual script on Wednesday, today is filming day. It is also a short day; we have professional development after school where we look through our departments’ scopes and sequences. And I am out tomorrow for a personal day.

I hand out the tablets (borrowed from another teacher whose 1:1 school doesn’t need the extras). Some kiddos ooh and ahhhh (“Son lindos,” coos one of the kiddos. They’re so cute.)2016-09-26-23-15-53

Some of the kiddos have done this last year. We’ve made the prompt a bit more sophisticated and there are more extensions. We’re able to record a video in Arabic and in Portuguese. The video in Mandarin gets lost in the shuffle.

One of my advisees arrives for the first time in about a week. I basically hover their shoulder for the last 10 minutes of class. Our video is as much my voice as his voice. I regret it a little bit, but I also want him to not fail. He is able to name the different tiles and is able to make zero (though he requires help to do it in the actual video).

After class, I make him sit for an exam that he missed. He actually does OK, having missed quite a few days of school. He will get a D on his marking period grades instead of an F.

Day 25: Individual Practice with Expressions

It’s getting to the end of our simplifying unit (which extends into other units, later on, hence the shortness). Some kiddos need more practice. Some have already seen this. We do individual practice, which means lots of little papers everywhere. I also miscalculate (many times) and make up to 4 times as many copies as needed. Lots of paper.

Big takeaway from this unit is that area and perimeter are a great way to encourage simplifying expressions in a realesque setting.

Photo: Papers left in class:


Day 24: The One with the Stations and the Participation Quiz

In an effort to keep kiddos engaged while practicing problems that are quick with a new twist (expression papers, with an opposite section), we rotate through stations. This time, we include a participation quiz, where we highlight the good things that kiddos are doing.

I thought I took a better video of this (I didn’t), but this is one of the kiddos explaining to another how to simplify expressions. Many representations. And a ton of empathy. Strong work.