Day 22: The One with Different Ways to Show Negatives

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One of the many changes we’re making to our curriculum is thinking about how to represent negative numbers. We’ve used CPM‘s Algebra Tiles a lot, but this is the first year that we’ll really explore negative tiles, but also the idea of opposite.

Side note: last time we taught this unit,  we used the Interactive Math Program’s hot and cold cubes (hot cubes cause an increase, cold cubes cause a decrease). Which I think was a neat idea, except that CPM’s negative tiles are red, which confused students when we talked about hot cubes causing an increase. This was not helped by a school-wide evacuation in the middle of one of our lessons. We had planned a summative project entitled “Mystery Soup” (how many hot and cold cubes are there? Maybe?) but with all the confusion and our eventual movement away from hot and cold cubes, we all seem to have forgotten what “Mystery Soup” refers to.

At any rate, watching the kiddos think about and represent negatives and opposites has been interesting. This group thought of different ways to show an expression with negatives using tiles. Any time we can get kiddos to talk together, but show their own way of thinking is pretty cool:2016-09-14-08-32-59-2

Objectives: 2016-09-14-18-13-21

Day 19: The One with the Windows

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I keep forgetting (or just denying) that Afternoon Me is the Worst Me (as the cool kids say).

We did a reading guide, which went slowly in some classes, just right in some classes/groups, and was a struggle in others. Now wishing I had been harsher and a bit more vocal with the participation quiz aspect.

Student work (from the afternoon, but still some solid work)


At any rate, I liked the opening. We showed them a bunch of windows and asked them how many there were. Almost every kiddo was talking or writing:

Teacher confession: after 1 class, a colleague pointed out that there were different numbers of small windows in each cluster, so my initial calculation of 900 was far greater than what many students calculated as about 768 windows.

Also, we cleaned almost all of the papers (except notes) out of the math section of our binders. Maybe this is the organized year. (Dinna hold yer breath.)

Day 17: The One With the Review Day

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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:

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

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 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 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.

WCYDWT: 200 Years of Immigration to the US

Math teachers (and I suspect other teachers) love to find interesting images and then ask each other: “What Can You Do With This?” It prompts a lot of good questions and gets people to engage in ways that a drafted, scripted curriculum often can’t. (As an aside, we often prompt our ELL kiddos by asking them “What do you observe?” “What do you wonder?”)

So, I ask you, “What Can You Do With This?”* “What do you observe? What do you wonder?”:

Captura de pantalla 2015-04-15 19.53.14

Useful phrases: “I observe _____.” “I wonder ____.”

I obviously have my own observations and wonderings, which I can share later.

*Images and data from Natalia Bronshtein, who credits them to the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.

Day 126: The One Where If You Fall Really Far, You Will Die

We’ve been experimenting with word problems as integrated math and English Language Development. Students read the problem, solve the problem and then do a write-up of the problem. It takes about a period to do 2-4 problems (for similarity, some groups finished one; most groups got to 3 for right triangle trigonometry). This might be different for mainstream classrooms, but I’d be curious. In contrast to activities like stations or explanation quizzes which encourage students to practice a range of problems, word problems feel like they allow students to dive deeper into problems.

It’s also curious to watch students mistake “the ground” in a word problem for “the line in the air”. I’m not sure if that’s a case of mis-translation or not reading the directions or something else.

Photo: If You Fall Really Far, You Will DieRight Triangle Trigonometry Word Problems

Gotta shout out Curriculum Partner on this one, since they wrote the word problems. Teaching 9th and 10th grade recently arrived English Language Learners is interesting. They often spend the first bit of time being confused – there’s a lot of English and the cognitive demands of high school in the US feel like they’re probably a bit higher than some of their prior schooling. But at some point during the year, they start to speak more English, they start to ask more questions, they start to write more things down.

This kiddo has recently become more active. I suspect it’s in part because we’re using scientific calculators (the non-fancy graphing ones for you following along at home) and this kiddo likes using them and feels successful at using them. At any rate, this kiddo was able to find the tangent of the reference angle (39.8) and label the unknown height of the tree as x. I think they also know that the shadow (the adjacent side of the triangle) was 60 feet, though their label is a bit misplaced.

Related, but unrelated: I completed my first Educational History Inventory. Don’t get too excited; it’s just a series of questions about how long a student has attended school for prior to arriving at our school. The vast majority of our students, especially those who arrive without documentation, do not bring transcripts or school records, so it’s hard for us to know if they’ve missed school in the past (something we call Interrupted Formal Education). To be fair, when I asked one student about their transcript, they said “well, my principal got shot, so…”. And I certainly wouldn’t count my transcript as the most important thing to bring with me from my home country.

At any rate, I’m actually finding that quite a few students who I suspected had Interrupted Formal Education have been in school continuously, which is leading me to think more about the transition to United States high schools and how we accelerate the growth in English process.