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 57: The One With the Area, Perimeter, Surface Area and Volume Group Test

Came back from a sub day (got to attend a meeting with fellow rookie math and science teachers) and went straight into two check-ins and a group quiz.

How was your Monday?

Photo: Area, Perimeter, Surface Area and Volume Group Quiz

Area Group Quiz

After we switched groups (did I mention today was busy?), kiddos pretty much got right to work. At Curriculum Partner’s suggestion, we did an opening about what groupwork looks like, cleaned out folders (sort of) and got to work.

Kiddos got most of the class period to work together and talk through four problems. Problems are written so that kiddos fill in what they know – they get some basic information to get them started, but have to fill in steps or explain or pick and justify an answer, so that everyone has a bit of access, but still has to say what they know.

Individual test tomorrow. So many projects still to grade. We’ll see how it goes.

Day 55: The One With the Grading Question

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Grading is the worst. Projects are challenging. We’re at that part of the Packaging Project where groups find the surface area and volume of their package.

This group got off to a solid start. I gave them a less scaffolded version of the Find the Surface Area and Volume page. They called me over at one point and we had a talk about what to do next. We figured out how to find volume

And then one of the kiddos turned this in:

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I remember asking myself, “How do I grade this? They haven’t shown very much of their work. But I know they can find the volume because they told me how to.”

In the end, I think I gave them a C+ for that part of the project. They can do it, but I want them to explain each step. I wish I had made that clearer somehow.

Pythagorean Theorem Student Data

Every few months, I meet with other beginning math and science teachers to discuss teaching and what it looks like for us (though the Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship). Recently, this has meant collecting data on our classrooms, presenting it to two other fellows, then discussing it.

The lesson I discussed was an exploration of the Pythagorean Theorem. Students read a reading guide and used Pythagorean Tangrams to see if the two smaller area squares added up to the bigger area square. (photos below)

Part of our assignment was to think about the Standards for Mathematical Practices, which, admittedly, I didn’t.

A couple of thoughts:

  • Students sometimes got stuck when trying to put together the two smaller squares to make the big square and I’d have to show them a hint or first step.This felt useful in terms of keeping the kiddos moving and not letting them get stuck on anything that was probably not hugely important (though if it wasn’t hugely important…) In general, I think I need to try and push students to struggle with math without giving up before asking for help. It feels like such a fine line between getting them engaged and than letting them be independent.
  • We also established that the students may not have understood the goal of the activity. Do they fully understand what it means when they make the two smaller squares equal the big square? Do they think that putting together the two smaller squares means that this will work for all squares?
  • It’s interesting to see how students explain and justify. One student says “I don’t know how to explain” which is frustrating because they probably could explain, but at least shows that they know they need to explain. It’s also interesting to see how students explain something tricky like “why do we need to write the small 2.” (This maybe feels like a “guess what the teacher is thinking” question)
  • In thinking about standards for mathematical practices, I go back and forth about which ones are “most important” (they’re all important, which makes it difficult for me to try and focus). So I might try and get our department (four people) to pick a math practice to focus on across courses next year. We’ll see.

Photos 1 and 2: Student AStudent A - Page 1

Student A - Page 2

Photos 3 and 4: Student BStudent B - Page 1Student B  - Page 2Photos 5 and 6: Student CStudent C - Page 1Student C  - Page 2