Day 41: Elevators and Negative Numbers

Weird day today – the 10th graders all took the PSAT (whole ‘nother post) so I had my 9th graders, plus the 9th graders from the other team. And also took half a day off to go to professional development.

We wanted to use what time we had wisely (with a sub facilitating at least half the classes), so my curriculum partner and I cooked up a lesson on negative numbers based on this worksheet from Illuminations. I got to see the first two classes, which happen to be my tougher classes.

Lots of students struggled with “up” being positive and “down” being negative. At one point, I made tables point up and say “up is plus” and “down is negative”, which I now wish I had made everyone do.

This photo of Jaime’s* work is pretty representative of some of the errors I saw – kiddos were able to connect the different numbers, but not always in the way I wanted them (and to be fair, I don’t know how culturally relevant elevators are to most of them):

Elevator misconceptionsI’d rate today a 3, but I don’t know how fair it is to give such a weird day a rating.

Here’s a shot of the board and my pockets and other work:

2013-10-16 19.18.25

*not his real name.

Days 136-140: Closing out Trig

Day 140: Circles Pre-Assessment

Circles Pre-Assessment

Today, the last classes finished the Trig Unit Quiz. To prepare for our next unit (Circles), we had them do a pre-assessment, which included drawing circles. They seem to get the basic ideas, but seem to be hindered by the compasses themselves (which are somewhat cheap and flimsy). Toying with the idea of giving them pre-drawn circles. We’ll see.

Day 139: Class on the Go

Class on the Go

In addition to today being the day where some of our classes made up the Trig Individual Quiz, it was also the meeting of our Translation Club (something a few other residents and I started as part of a service project; we help students translate documents from English to their home languages). These meetings happen at lunch, which is the same time some students stayed to take their quizzes. As a result, we packed up and headed to Translation Club. However, some of the trig identities we wrote on the board didn’t make the transition, so I stole some space on another teacher’s blackboard and wrote them down. Make do with what you got…

Day 138: Reflection

Trig Unit Reflection

For the end of each unit, we ask students to reflect on the work they’ve done for the unit – what went well, what they’d like to improve upon, what pieces of work reflect their best work. We’ve decided that a short reflection worksheet is (so far) our best bet at getting that done.

Day 137: Ah-Jay-Sent


One of the things I’m thinking about is how to increase students’ use of academic language. This unit, many of them struggle with the word “adjacent”, which is something I take for granted. It’s not spelled the way it’s pronounced and it’s pretty complicated for just trying to say “next to”. So we wrote it on the board with a pronunciation key and try to make students say it as much as possible.

Day 136: Inverse Trig Diagram

Trig-Inverse Trig

Today was a quick lesson on Inverse Trig. One of my students asked when you use each of the functions, so I whipped up the following diagram on the spot. In retrospect, I wish I’d said “Ratio of sides” and maybe done something more specific with each of the trig identities. Students also seem to not connect “inverse trig” and “tan -1” (for example) as much as I’d like. For next time, I guess…