August: Terrified of Summer School

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August, 2019.

Summer school is weirdly near and dear to my heart. A coworker who started working for the District talked another coworker and I into teaching during the summer three years ago at an off-campus meeting and I haven’t really looked back. Summer school looks a little different for us, as our students (all recent immigrants) arrive throughout the year. Most of the students in summer school are doing credit recovery, but it’s because they were in another country (or – let’s be real – in a detention center in the United States) instead of at our school. It began as a good way to keep an eye on some of my advisees (and pick up some extra pay) and I’ve just decided to keep doing it.

I was terrified of teaching summer school this year (June 2019). In some ways, this was odd. I taught in the same classroom I summer taught last year (next door to the classroom in which I student taught) using the same curriculum from the last 3 years (which I cobbled together 3 years again using my planning partner and my greatest hits from Algebra and Geometry). But, after 5 years of teaching 9/10 mathematics, I switched to the 11th grade team, where I taught Algebra 2 (and a double block mathematics support class. And an Early College Support class. And an Internship class). I am terrified that I have forgotten all the tricks of the 9/10 trade.

On the first day of school, I recognize one student I know (in fact, it will take me at least 2 weeks to figure out which students are from the school I teach at during the school year and which students are from other schools) and quickly rely on them. Pass out the papers? Start the class? Convince me that I haven’t totally lost my touch?

Things turn out just fine. Interestingly, patterns at summer school reflect what we’ve seen at our school throughout the year. After a few years of lower enrollment, there are suddenly many more recent immigrants in our school district. I start out most of my classes with 7 tables instead of the 4 tables that my smallest summer school class ended up with last year. We do some work with group roles. I speak a lot of Spanish. I fake grumble at one class – and one kiddo – in particular, because I want to encourage him to be on time and I think they can be more focused. I wonder if it’s enough time.

As we roll into the school year, I find myself back on the 9/10 floor more frequently. And strangely enough (or perhaps, not strangely at all), many of the connections I find are the students I taught in summer school, who are now at least vaguely familiar. Even if the summer isn’t enough time, maybe there’s still enough time.

The One with Individual Tangent Practice

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I’m a bit more into individual practice, these days. A few years ago, I think I was more “all groupwork, all the time”, but I’m appreciating the fact that a decent culture of groupwork at our school helps support our kiddos when they’re working individually¬†while also allowing them to spend time on what they need.

We’re still working through how reference angles are related to tangent ratios (without really calling them that – most kiddos are sticking with opposite and adjacent sides). Also trying to balance procedural work (especially with ratios) and conceptual thinking. Someone made a decision with this curriculum to round some of the tangent ratios to numbers that made it easier to solve for unknown numbers. While this may take away from the actual ratios (which are a calculator button push away, anyway), it did give a lot of kiddos access who weren’t familiar with solving ratios. Lots of struggle today and I’m hoping kiddos got something out of it.2017-03-10 17.39.31-2What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Similar or Same: The One with Academic Language

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That sinking moment when it becomes clear you didn’t teach vocabulary as much as you should have. There were some things that went well with this unit and a whole lot of new ideas for the next time we teach it, but I wish I’d done a better job emphasizing academic language, especially when the kiddos mistake “similar” for “same”, which is…reasonable, but problematic.

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The One with My Writing

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Solving problems with similarity. The writing on this one is largely mine, which says something about this unit and how much access kiddos might feel they have to it. That being said, I hope they’re starting to make some connections to scale factors and multiplication. I also need to make more clear the idea of whether a shape is already similar or whether we’re trying to prove the shape is similar.

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