Day 53: The One with the Linear Equations Group Test


I always feel somewhat uncertain of exactly how to assign grades/frame group tests. Especially by the end of the day when the kiddos are done and I am done.

That being said, this group got off to a slow start (one group member almost didn’t want to even think of ways to help the group for the opening) and with a little prodding (saying the good things they were doing, showing a lower grade and saying they could easily get a better one, pushing group members who are good at asking questions), got to this stage, where they’re mostly all talking and working in the center of the table.


(Slightly fuzzy because one kiddo was photo-shy and I had to zoom in).

What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Day 21: The One With Simplifying Algebra Tiles and Perimeter Challenges


Curriculum partner and I sensed that 10th graders and students who had seen more simplifying with Algebra Tiles were getting restless, so we split the kiddos into homogenous groupings. We always try to frame this as letting students challenge themselves with students who need similar challenges.

FASCINATING to watch some of our newer students who frequently hide in the shadows start to step it up (and also to see 10th graders using tiles and expressions in a more meaningful way).

Photo: “We don’t speak any English!” said one newbie (in Spanish). But that didn’t stop them from a) using the tiles and b) saying the names of the tiles in English.2016-09-13-10-45-24-2

Spent about 45 minutes after school with the Littlest Advisee, revising a quiz. It’s a slow process that (currently) involves me reviewing the problems they missed and then them showing me they can do the problem (with help). If they can do the problem, I’ll give them half credit (up from 0, in this case). If they can do a different version of the same problem, on a different day, I’ll bump their score up as if they had just taken the test.

Spent another few minutes helping one of last year’s kiddos with his homework. Compound interest. What is that even? #PleaseHelpCantMath



Bowtie Tuesday. Because yes:


Day 18: The One with the First Quiz

We just gave our first quiz of the year (though technically the group quiz was probably the first of the year, so I guess this blog post is already a lie).

Thought process is that it’s pretty similar to the group quiz but with enough changed that the kiddos have to prove they know the concepts, but aren’t totally thrown by new, irrelevant things.

Got some solid work, especially from some kiddos who tend to leave their papers blank:

Fascinating also to see where kiddos get stuck. We asked them to draw their own pattern with the point (5,16) and it ended up being more of a stumper than we expected.

Also, the littlest advisee (the same one I spent my 34th birthday chasing around the school in an attempt to get them to do homework) drew me a truck instead:

(To be fair, they did try to take the quiz and they struggle with reading and got very little formal education in their country).

And a quote from another kiddo: “Mister, you look like a – (to friend) – ¿Cómo se dice ‘abeja’? (How do you say ‘bee’?):


Day 17: The One With the Review Day


Having just given a group quiz, Curriculum Partner and I spend the next day giving the kiddos some structured study time.

We often joke that in a different world, in a different school, with different kiddos, this day would look different. Our kiddos would take their group tests home and figure out the answers and study on their own. So many of our kiddos don’t have those study skills or don’t have someone at home who can help support those study habits (though they have figured out how to send me messages through our school’s grading system, which is pretty cool) or have to work hours that put public school teaching hours to shame (one of my advisees has such a schedule and I tell him not to do anything in advisory except homework, but then he does the binder organizing and the poem reading anyway).

But we aren’t, so we have our review day.

The review day has changed the most of all the days of our 3-day testing cycle and that might just be because our student body changes throughout the years.

We currently start off by explicitly pairing the kiddos with someone who speaks the same language (Sorry, Russian speaking advisee singleton) but is at a different level of English. We have the kiddos make a dictionary and translate the words they don’t know. They then use the rubric to grade their own quizzes and make a perfect test (we’ve had them do this separately, but they kind of bled together this time and I’ll take it, I think). Then, then check for periods and capital letters, which aren’t a thing yet, apparently.

They all put their quizzes in their binders, so here’s the rubric, the task card and some extension problems (“Make up your own problem for the test,” I said. It’s a start anyway):2016-09-07-18-54-51

Gotta say, though, I was more impressed with this kiddo’s note sheet, largely because he took the time to write everything out, translate it, then write it again for a specific example:


Objectives (in which I basically made the kiddos use their notes. #MathsHairDontCare):2016-09-07-18-54-19

Day 16: The One With the Patterns Group Quiz


We start the week off (from a 3-day weekend, no less) with a group quiz. The idea is that the kiddos seem what the quiz will look like and have a chance to work through it and talk together as a group. They then take a study day, in class, to translate the words they don’t know and make a perfect quiz using a rubric.

Last question on a group quiz:img_8875I’m rather fond of the 4 square (OK, 6 square) format. I also had to chase down one of the kiddos in after-school tutoring to take this photo. Apparently, they’re all using their binders this year. Which is kinda cool (but makes #teach180 weirdly difficult).

Also, after giving 4 sections of group quizzes, I went to a school meeting and then a district meeting. Both worthwhile, both pretty busy. Then I went home and tried to write a meeting agenda until I fell asleep. #TeacherLife



(Side note: We used the opening to generate norms which theoretically became the rubric for our participation quiz. Kinda sorta worked. Room for improvement next time)

Day 12: The One With the Language Testing


“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.

2016-08-30 11.10.30-1

Day 72: The One With the Last Quiz…

…of the semester.

Crazy to think that we are done with content for all of first semester. In some ways, it feels so quick (with so many misconceptions still to fix and so much material still to cover, uy), but then again, August seems so far away (on both ends).

Photo #1: Solving Equations Individual Quiz

2015-12-05 01.29.59

In the end, it feels like the strength of the answers reflects how well groups worked together. Groups and/or students that struggled in class and on the group quiz seemed to struggle on the individual quiz while groups that worked well throughout the unit seemed to do well enough on the quiz. I haven’t graded them yet (uy), so we’ll see how it actually turns out.

This is from one of the individual quizzes for our group that had less experience solving equations. There was a lot of language scaffolding for the first problem. While the second answer isn’t really the answer we were looking for, the student shows that understand ideas of balance and making zero, which is good.

Photo #2: Don’t Wanna Talk About It

Have we talked about how long a semester it’s been? I mean, not really any longer than other semesters, but after a full unit with algebra tile manipulatives and many handouts to scaffold learning (plus preparation for upcoming portfolios and a semester of buddy reading in advisory), my room is in a state. I spent a non-significant amount of time looking for a student’s bus pass that they left in my room and that I put in my desk for safekeeping. And then couldn’t find. (I found it in 30 seconds the next day. I’m fairly sure it knew I was looking for it and just hid from me)

Side note: Post-sixth period me is probably the grouchiest me.

Anyway. I’m hoping to clean before portfolios. Dinna hold yer breath.