Day -10: The One With The Sausages and Humans

2016-08-01 09.13.28Showing our work during a group (involving sausages and division) for day 1 of district planning. What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Postscript: I cut out 30 minutes early to watch Ms. Minjares get married. It was a good day:

2016-08-01 16.12.45

Plan Teach Reflect #3: The Water Balloon Toss

Lesson Plan is here, based on curriculum by CPM and our school district here.

The worksheets we gave to students are here.

Plan Teach Reflect Sheet is here.

Student work:

2016-03-04 18.21.55Version 2Version 2

Talk tally:

2016-03-04 21.59.34My notes:

Group notes

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 -2: The One With the Laminated Group Roles

Staff development week is quickly winding down. I’m fairly certain that two days ago (Wednesday) will mark the day I was actually over my head, followed by yesterday (Thursday) as the day I started breaking all my School Year’s Resolutions to leave by 6, followed by today (Friday), where I will hopefully adhere to leaving by 6 out of a sense of guilt and hope.

(Yes, the week before school causes all the emotions)

Photo: Laminated Group RolesLaminated group rolesCurriculum partner and I are revising curriculum from 2 years ago rather than writing our own, which is much less stressful and is helping us to really think about past lessons and rework them so that they (hopefully) accomplish what we actually want them to do.

It’s also been a weird walk down memory lane back to my first year of full-time teaching. The way we plan and think about lessons has changed quite a bit and so many of our structures are different (though we’re also trying to revive a lot of them). Some of my lesson plans are filled with less relevant details and even less relevant formatting (Me: “What is this?” Curriculum partner: “I think I wanted to tell you not to waste time on formatting, but figured you’d get the idea after doing it once or twice.”* *They were really nice about it and totally right.)

First-Year-Teacher-Me also went and laminated 4 different versions of Complex Instruction group roles***. First-Year-Teacher-Me was kind of a naive dweeb. That being said, Third-Year-Teacher-Me is now taping down those laminated roles, so…good work First-Year-Teacher-Me?

(Complex Instruction is a structured form of groupwork aimed at helping all students to contribute to the learning of the group. One way to do this is to assign each group member a different role. Some teachers tape the roles to the table so that all Group Managers sit in corresponding positions, all Resource Managers sit in corresponding positions, making it easier for the teacher to identify and reenforce roles in Complex Instruction. One of our goals this year is to authentically use roles, so…)

Day -6: The One With the Math Problem in the Middle Space

Day two of District training through a Complex Instruction lens. Really appreciative of being able to spend time with other staff members beforehand to take time to actively think about common structures we want to use for groupwork (Complex Instruction) and how we want to work with each other. We’re also trying a structure to observe each other in hopes of knowing more about each other’s classrooms and practices. Pretty pumped to have time to revamp our scope and sequence, journal structure and opening structure before schoolwide PD starts. Next week, we’ll have more time to revamp our first unit (in addition to classroom setup and schoolwide meetings and…)

Photo: The Math Problems in the Middle SpaceMath problems in the middle spaceWe always kick off District Complex Instruction Days by doing math together. For me, this is a chance to work and connect with colleagues who I may not know, to remind myself that I am still a learner, and to think about ways that our teaching and teaching structures may affect our kiddos, especially in terms of what it means to be a student of math and what it means to be smart and successful in math. In particular, we looked at this problem and how the language of the task and how the requirements for an “A+ answer” raised the ceiling of the problem and really could push students to do more.

Day -7: “…What Summer?”

We’re winding down from our first day of District Planning. I see another teacher who I’m friendly with and ask them, “How was your summer?” to which they reply (deadpan, of course): “What summer?”

That about sums it up.

In some ways, I’m ready to go back. I’m ready to meet the new kiddos. I’m ready to catch up with the old kiddos (many of whom will be in my class for a second year, some who will not, but who will be across the hall). I’m ready to figure out which kiddos have transferred and to get in touch with their current teachers (all the while ignoring whether this is a healthy practice or not). I’m ready to continue planning with a fantastic curriculum partner and amazing math and science team. But it does seem like the summer has gone away all too soon.

Photo: Planning Notes

Planning NotesAlthough this day is technically a District Professional Development Day, we’re allowed to use it to start planning how we want to start our year (through the lens of Complex Instruction). Curriculum Partner (whose notes are shown above) did a fantastic job of getting people talking and planning, sometimes in large groups, sometimes in small groups. It is pretty amazing to have all 7 of our math and science teachers working in the same space at the same time.

Day 156: The One with the Pythagorean Word Problems

1 full day and 3 half days to go before we’re done with content for the year. #JesusTakeTheWheel

In unrelated news, my favorite thing to do this unit is add “Pythagorean” in front of whatever the lesson is. I’m also duly impressed with how hard the kiddos try to say “Pythagorean”.

Photo: Pythagorean Word Problem

2015-04-28 16.16.15One of the structures that we’ve had success with this year is giving our kiddos (all English Language Learners) a word problem. They read it through, solve the problem, then write about it. Initially, I thought it would be too easy, but I am constantly reminded how many new words there are to learn and seeing the problem in multiple ways (reading, drawing/solving, writing about it) seems to give students more access to it.

It’s also interesting to see how students react to word problems over time. Today, we were pressed for time, so we spent more time solving the problems than writing about them. And I think I’m OK with that. This particular student translated some of the words into English, which is a good strategy.

Many teachers talk about “pseudo-context” and how making up a word problem doesn’t necessarily engage students further. I think I agree with this, but for students learning English, word problems fulfill a need to learn new words that might not exist for other students. (This is not a measure of success, but many of our standardized tests, which ultimately do count for our students, are filled with words. I’ve seen so many students who can do the math work be stumped by words like “garden” and “astronaut”) Kiddos got stuck on words like “owner” and “porch”. Incidentally, many students translated “porch” as “espacio libre” (free space).

Outside of Class

Building on the “teachers do more than teach” narrative:

In addition to prepping for tomorrow (which the curriculum partners largely did), I spent a bit of time after school trying to get ready for a Student Support Team meeting (which are called when there are students that need extra support for whatever reason). Multiple phone calls, etc. As a result, I may or may not have been late to another meeting (oops) where teachers from schools across the city to talk about implementing Complex Instruction at our schools. Pretty cool to hear what other people are doing.

Came home, tried to go for a run, took a nap instead. Close.