The One with Homework after School


We do partner problems with solving equations with algebra tiles, which is all well and good, but also hard to document.

One of the kiddos who is routinely late to first period and another kiddo who is new and grappling with the idea of a weekly homework packet (“Problem sets”, I think of calling them in attempt to sound more like college….pft) come in after school to work on homework and are joined by a third student who mostly watches and probably just wants somewhere to be after school.

Trying to figure out how to make this happen on a more regular basis.img_20170111_131838

Day 149: The One With the Survey (and other stuff)

Curriculum partner was out Friday and we needed our kiddos to fill out a district survey on positive school culture. So, we spent the first part of class signing onto computers and filling out a computerized survey in English, Spanish or Chinese and the rest of class (25 minutes for students, 0 minutes for others) catching up on homework or doing other stuff.

Photo: The Other Stuff Day 149: SurveyIn retrospect, one thought we’ve had this year regarding homework is that it’s good to have it, but it’s also good to build time into the school day to do it. We have an afterschool tutoring program that quite a few kiddos take advantage of, but many of them have to work after school.

This is my long, roundabout way of saying that some kiddos (with a lot of prodding) caught up on homework that needed to be done. Others…doodled a lot.

Other things I observed:

  • lots of kiddos got caught up on questions, even in their home language. I wonder about some of the phrases they used (I had trouble understanding it, so it must not have been an Ecuadorian translator). I think some of the questions were unfamiliar to kiddos and helped push their thinking (I hope).
  • Kiddos did a strong job of not giving up, even though there were lots of questions with academic language.
  • It was also nice to be able to check in with students. I don’t know if it was because they needed less support with the surveys (or if I checked less frequently as I didn’t want to influence their answers), but it felt like I had more time to check in and have needed conversations with students – lots of kiddos needed time to talk to our Wellness center or just talk about their lives or needed more support and I felt like I was somehow able to give this in a way that I’m usually not able to (do to time and such)

New mini-unit starts Monday. Cross your fingers.

Day 5: The One Where We Learn Ken Ken and Imagine the 10th Figure

First week Friday! Woooo! I am planning to sleep and not grade this weekend, which will be the opposite of all the rest of my weekends until June.

Photo #1: Ken Ken

Ken Ken




A while ago, my curriculum partner found a Japanese math puzzle game called Ken Ken. It only has 3 rules, so it’s a simple, repeatable structure. It builds on basic math skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing). It is challenging enough that some of my students with higher levels of prior math get stumped, but no one ever really gives up. I can specifically name at least 2 times when classroom management disasters were imminent and I got the class to calm down by playing Ken Ken.

I taught it for the first time last year, which was nerve-racking since I had just learned how to play the day before. It felt easier to teach this year, after a year of practice (which I told students who were struggling this year). At least one student, who I had last year, said they finally understood how to play, while another student (also from last year) left their thoughts on my whiteboard after class in the photo above (sigh).

Photo #2: More Patterns

More Patterns

We’re still looking at patterns and how they grow. This lesson, which was supposed to end with presentations, is actually flowing over until Monday. Classes struggled with drawing the 100th figure in a sequence of patterns, so we asked students to instead find the 10th figure. For students who could find the 10th figure, we then asked them to find the 100th figure. We’re moving towards the idea of representing big blocks with numbers instead of drawing every individual block (upper right photo). Some students still insist on trying to draw 100 squares, then look at me bewildered, as if to say, “Mister, how in the world do you expect me to draw 100 tiny squares?”

Photo #3: The Big Honkin’ Stack of HomeworkNext Week's Homework

All of next week’s homework (4 pages of math and one reflective paragraph per class). To be handed out Monday, due back Friday. Read it and weep. Because that’s what I’ll be doing on Friday. #ImNotSorry

Questions for the Floor

1. Have you played Ken Ken? Which of the 3 rules is the hardest for you?

2. Any guesses as to homework completion rates for the first week?

3. Are you smarter than a 9th or 10th grader? Go to this pattern from Visual Patterns, the site where we get our patterns (it’s by an amazing math teacher named Fawn Nguyen). The 1st, 2nd and 3rd figure are shown. Can you draw the 4th pattern? The 5th pattern? The 0th pattern? The 100th pattern?