The One with Homework after School

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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

“Mister, I’m Shy”

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We work in leveled groups on solving bags and coins problems with tiles (moving towards solving equations with fewer scaff0lds) but my favorite part of the day is when one of the kiddos comes for help at lunch. He sees that there are 11th and 12th grade girls in the room and refuses to come in.

“Why?” I ask (probably while multitasking).

“Mister, I’m shy,” he says, looking at the girls again. (He will repeat this phrase when I ask him why he doesn’t practice English with his uncle. It’s adorable.)

And that’s how we end up sitting on the floor outside my room, solving equations with algebra tiles.

(He is not shy, but I will OK, whatever in the name of student voice.)

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Day 60: The One With Community Circle and Demand

I spend the night of the election texting other teachers about the election and how drastically our largely undocumented kiddos (and lesson plans) will be affected. A million scenarios run through my head. Proceed with the lesson? Cancel everything and just give processing space and community circle all day? Will kiddos cry? Will there be fighting?

As it turns out, the day is mostly normal, which is probably just another indicator of how long our kiddos have been putting up with these feelings of feeling unwanted or discriminated. We do a community circle in first period. Write for 5 minutes about what you feel, what you need, and what you wonder. I have kiddos write on the prompt at the beginning of the rest of the classes, but honestly, the most helpful thing for them feels like to proceed with the lesson and the structures we’re used to. (Also, we vote on designs for t-shirts they designed to illustrate the concept of demand)

Some written responses. Shared without permission, but anonymously. These are all written by emergent multilinguals, so please be forgiving with spelling and grammar; I translated where I could, but didn’t edit for spelling or grammar. (There are more, but I’m about to be late for a meeting and will type them in later)

“I feel bad because…lost Hillary Clinton and won Donald Trump the electins but at the same time I feel calm because I do not think it will get all the immigrants from the country because practically the immigrants support the United States.”

“I feel sad scare angry and worry about me about my family about all my Hispanic and about the future of USA of America. I need some space.”

“I feel worry because I don’t want the new predicent be badly to us nad I hope that he don’t change our life.”

“Today I feel worry, shot, and angry because Donald Trump won the elections and we don’t know the good and bad things he will do in the country and will all immigransts people.”

“Today I feel angry because the teacher ask how do yo feel and they make me feel bad beause think more about.”

“Today, I feel normal because even thought we have new president we still need to life.”

Photo: Students vote on Business Plan Project Designs and whether they’d buy them at certain prices:

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Day 43: The One With the College Trip

Field trips are simultaneously awesome and complicated.

Every year, we take the kiddos to a local college. For many of them, it’s their first time actually spending time on a college campus. This year, it feels like the first time I’m actually asking them if and what they are thinking about college.

***

Miguel (who opts to go by “Mike” these days, presumably to keep things easier at his work) and Pedro miss the field trip departure, which is not entirely surprising, especially since Miguel works a lot, has late hours, and has stated that he wants to work full-time after high school instead of going to college. As we bus towards College, I notice Alex, another advisee, texting. This is also not entirely surprising.

“OK, who are you texting?” I ask as we near the College.

“Miguel,” he replies.

We wait around the student center prior to our tour. I am not entirely surprised when Miguel and Pedro run up to us, having taken unknown buses for at least half an hour to meet us. I’ve lost kiddos on field trips before, but this is the first time I’ve gained them.

***

Probably the most interesting part of the College Tour (other than the food court and the video arcade, sigh) is the part where the college students actually talk in small groups to our kiddos. These students are part of a program through the College and come from similar backgrounds to our students (first generation college students, often Spanish-speaking, often low-income).

The chaperones circulate throughout the room and I find myself in Mike’s group. Our kiddos are quiet, probably because it’s such a new place. The student they are talking to presses them for questions.

“Some of our students are thinking about working full-time after college. They have debts to pay and families to support,” I say (I think in Spanish). “Why should they go to college?” I shoot a pointed glance at Mike.

“That’s a good question,” says the student (also in Spanish). “If you work after high school, you’ll be making money sooner. But you’ll always be working for less money.” (This is a horrible, horrible paraphrase of what he actually said, which was much more thoughtful and eloquent. And in Spanish. But he said it in front of Mike, which was what I was hoping for)

***

The bus we’re supposed to take back to school doesn’t come, so we walk to another bus. Alex leaves to go to a dentist appointment, but we’re far away and he doesn’t really know the buses, so he texts Mike and comes back. As we wait, I notice Mike, deep in thought, standing apart from the group. I pull him back and make him board the bus.

***

Ultimately, I don’t care if Mike goes to college (this is a lie; I want Mike to go to college, but I also understand that I only know the surface level version of his circumstances and that he will make the choice that is right for him). But I want him (and the rest of the kiddos) to understand the benefits of going to college and I want him to keep that door open for as long as possible.

Photo: Going up to the lookout during the College tour.

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Day 21: The One With Simplifying Algebra Tiles and Perimeter Challenges

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Curriculum partner and I sensed that 10th graders and students who had seen more simplifying with Algebra Tiles were getting restless, so we split the kiddos into homogenous groupings. We always try to frame this as letting students challenge themselves with students who need similar challenges.

FASCINATING to watch some of our newer students who frequently hide in the shadows start to step it up (and also to see 10th graders using tiles and expressions in a more meaningful way).

Photo: “We don’t speak any English!” said one newbie (in Spanish). But that didn’t stop them from a) using the tiles and b) saying the names of the tiles in English.2016-09-13-10-45-24-2

Spent about 45 minutes after school with the Littlest Advisee, revising a quiz. It’s a slow process that (currently) involves me reviewing the problems they missed and then them showing me they can do the problem (with help). If they can do the problem, I’ll give them half credit (up from 0, in this case). If they can do a different version of the same problem, on a different day, I’ll bump their score up as if they had just taken the test.

Spent another few minutes helping one of last year’s kiddos with his homework. Compound interest. What is that even? #PleaseHelpCantMath

Objectives:

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Bowtie Tuesday. Because yes:

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Day 17: The One With the Review Day

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Having just given a group quiz, Curriculum Partner and I spend the next day giving the kiddos some structured study time.

We often joke that in a different world, in a different school, with different kiddos, this day would look different. Our kiddos would take their group tests home and figure out the answers and study on their own. So many of our kiddos don’t have those study skills or don’t have someone at home who can help support those study habits (though they have figured out how to send me messages through our school’s grading system, which is pretty cool) or have to work hours that put public school teaching hours to shame (one of my advisees has such a schedule and I tell him not to do anything in advisory except homework, but then he does the binder organizing and the poem reading anyway).

But we aren’t, so we have our review day.

The review day has changed the most of all the days of our 3-day testing cycle and that might just be because our student body changes throughout the years.

We currently start off by explicitly pairing the kiddos with someone who speaks the same language (Sorry, Russian speaking advisee singleton) but is at a different level of English. We have the kiddos make a dictionary and translate the words they don’t know. They then use the rubric to grade their own quizzes and make a perfect test (we’ve had them do this separately, but they kind of bled together this time and I’ll take it, I think). Then, then check for periods and capital letters, which aren’t a thing yet, apparently.

They all put their quizzes in their binders, so here’s the rubric, the task card and some extension problems (“Make up your own problem for the test,” I said. It’s a start anyway):2016-09-07-18-54-51

Gotta say, though, I was more impressed with this kiddo’s note sheet, largely because he took the time to write everything out, translate it, then write it again for a specific example:

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Objectives (in which I basically made the kiddos use their notes. #MathsHairDontCare):2016-09-07-18-54-19

Day -1: The Secret Reason I Ordered Another Bookcase

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Friday was our last day of professional development before the kiddos arrived. During team meeting (around 10am), I said, out loud (oops), “Yeah, I think I’m just going to leave at 3:30 and be done with it.” The rest of my team was, um, flabbergasted (I can’t ever get myself to leave ¬†at a decent hour.”

It’s tradition that seniors come to school on Friday for their orientation. It’s crazy to see this class, since they are the first class that I taught as freshmen. My first advisees are seniors (it’s a bit mind-blowing to me, and I tell them as such on a pretty much daily basis).

By 6:30, most of my team had (rightfully) left and I was just starting to round the bend on Things That Needed To Be Done Before Monday (namely, seating charts). I gave up and decided to come in on Sunday.

A while ago, there was an offer at our school to get more bookshelves. I asked for one. Mostly so I could stand on it to change my seating charts (out of the range of kiddos, though an advisee last year tried to jump in order to switch seats, so…).2016-08-12 18.28.51