November: I Teach Independent PE?


November, 2019.

In my 7 years of teaching, I’ve mostly taught mathematics and it’s still confusing for me to answer the question, “What do you teach?”

I taught an integrated 9th and 10th grade Algebra and Geometry course for 5 years and then switched to 11th grade to teach Algebra 2 and a surprise numeracy course, focused on supporting students with gaps in their mathematical education. At our school, 11th graders change their schedules at the semester and take an internship outside of school to expose them to the world of work in the United States. They also took an Early College course at our local community college. I ended up teaching sections of both of these classes, which was a fascinating look into what our 11th graders learn and the structures on that team that even those team members don’t necessarily see.

This year, we get a lot of kiddos and we get them early. Our PE classes are now offered year-long, but when students from both teams get put into the same section, we find ourselves over-enrolled. A new section is created of “Independent PE” for students who are older and have more credits (and can sign a waiver to waive the credits). I also end up teaching this section.

Because the class is basically a study hall, I have the freedom to design the course however I like. With limited time, I decide to survey the class. Many students say they want to learn more English. Some students (though notably, not all) want to go outside and play soccer and basketball. So we try and go outside, based on the weather and whether the actual PE teacher needs to take his class outside. I try and pull some of the English Language Development structures we have and modify some of the health curriculum that is offered to me. There are moments where I feel like students are engaged in asking each other questions and building friendships across differences and there are moments where I feel like the class is crashing and burning (to be fair, this is how I feel in most of my classes, so…)

A fun yet intriguing part of this course is getting to know the students. I am extremely lucky that all of them are 10th graders and, for better or for worse, know a little more English and have a little more experience with school. I start to have a sense of which students are more dedicated to school and which students want more support with English. And the students (as always) are able to read me right away. “Mister,” complains one student (on the third day), “we do the same thing every day. You put a picture on the board. Then you ask what do you notice? What do you wonder? Ask 4 people.” His voice sounds extremely close to mine. I suppose I don’t mind.

The One With Writing Practice


Project pages continue on, even though we’ve been away on a field trip. Planning Partner and I have been working on writing scaffolds for a few years and it kind of feels like we’re getting somewhere (though I wish I’d made it clearer to students that they can either choose the more scaffolded version on one side or the less scaffolded version on the other. Womp)

Photo: Student writing drafts2017-07-10 14.30.07-2What do you observe? What do you wonder?

(Swear I did not bribe them to put “quietness” as their answer. Though in retrospect)

(Also, apologies to the 1 or 2 of you who might possibly subscribed to get immediate blog posts. I’m about to go back and fill in some gaps. There’s apparently a way to get a digest instead of individual posts, so…)

Peep the Diagrams: The One with Similarity Problem Write Ups


Writing up word problems from yesterday. We believe this helps the kiddos review what they learned/learn it if they didn’t get a chance the first time around, and helps them pick out key points, summarize (a little) and explain their thinking. Peep those diagrams.

What do you notice? What do you wonder?

2017-02-09 08.33.35-2

The One with the Stewie Reading Guide


Starting similarity. It’s crazy what we remember from years prior. For me, it’s this reading guide with Stewie where we talk about realism and how we can make things bigger or smaller. At least one kiddo a year refers to Stewie’s head as a football.

We were able to condense the reading guide a bit. Always good to see some progress from years past.2017-01-30-17-36-24-1What do you notice? What do you wonder?

The One with the Script


We’ve got jobs, now we have to start writing the scripts we’ll be using.

Each group gets to divide 3-4 jobs among their group. Everyone writes a script with the ability to choose something suited to their level of challenge (all levels feature solving equations with tiles).2017-01-19-17-34-25What do you notice? What do you wonder?

The One with the Reading Guide Revision


It’s nice to be back in a unit that we’ve taught many times before (this is, I think, the only unit we teach every year).

A stray Google comment by Curriculum Partner on 2 year’s ago lesson plan reminds us that our original reading guide was somewhat clunky. We go through and revise the questions to focus on one workable problem each.

Kiddos are still stymied by the idea of getting X alone (as we call isolating the variable) and most of them refer to it as “making the equation easier”. Which, true, but still confusing.2017-01-10-18-42-14

I Cannot be Angry When You Make Me Feel Bad: The One with the Make-Up Work


As we round the bend on portfolios, thoughts to to unfinished work, especially for those kiddos who are struggling (or, in some cases, failing).

I wish I knew how to support this kiddo better, both in content and in student skills. Then again, if we’re being honest, I probably wish he’d paid more attention when the essay was originally due.

What do you notice? What do you wonder?

2016-12-13 15.03.52-2