The One with Tzeltal


Only fitting to end the Video Project with a video. But I’m too cheap for that WordPress option, so here’s a screenshot.

You can see the kiddo (kind of). You can see the tiles. What you can’t see is the kiddo speaking Tzeltal (an indigenous Mayan language).captura-de-pantalla-2017-02-21-19-02-20What do you observe? What do you wonder?

Once More With Tiles


We got scripts (mostly). Now it’s time to practice what we’ll be saying, with tiles.2017-01-18-08-31-06What do you notice? What do you wonder?

(PS Color helps see the tiles a little better, so let me know if you’d prefer a color photo?)

The One with the Video Project Jobs


While this blog has helped me to reflect on my work, as well as to keep an archive of sorts, I fear that the thing I will remember most about today’s lesson is that a lot of the kiddos summarized the jobs they had to do for the Video Project instead of just writing their names like we wanted them to. Apparently no amount of mental wishing made this happen. English Language Development for the win (when just plain efficiency would have done).

Photo: Picking roles within the group to ensure that people get to do a range of videos explaining how to solve equations with algebra tiles:2017-01-18-17-35-28What do you notice? What do you wonder?

“Mister, I’m Shy”


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.)


Day 22: The One with Different Ways to Show Negatives


One of the many changes we’re making to our curriculum is thinking about how to represent negative numbers. We’ve used CPM‘s Algebra Tiles a lot, but this is the first year that we’ll really explore negative tiles, but also the idea of opposite.

Side note: last time we taught this unit,  we used the Interactive Math Program’s hot and cold cubes (hot cubes cause an increase, cold cubes cause a decrease). Which I think was a neat idea, except that CPM’s negative tiles are red, which confused students when we talked about hot cubes causing an increase. This was not helped by a school-wide evacuation in the middle of one of our lessons. We had planned a summative project entitled “Mystery Soup” (how many hot and cold cubes are there? Maybe?) but with all the confusion and our eventual movement away from hot and cold cubes, we all seem to have forgotten what “Mystery Soup” refers to.

At any rate, watching the kiddos think about and represent negatives and opposites has been interesting. This group thought of different ways to show an expression with negatives using tiles. Any time we can get kiddos to talk together, but show their own way of thinking is pretty cool:2016-09-14-08-32-59-2

Objectives: 2016-09-14-18-13-21

Day 59: The One with the Exit Ticket


2015-11-13 18.58.14As a whole, our school has chosen to focus on differentiation. This is particularly relevant, given that the recent immigrant population at our school means that some kiddos have done formal education for years (actually some of the best schools in their country, we’ve been told) while sitting next to students who studied for a few years, then dropped out. (This is not entirely an exaggeration, though I usually try not to place students in the same group that have such a wide academic gap between them).

We teach simplifying and solving every year. It’s actually one of the few topics (along with area) that we’ve taught every year of this course sequence. This means that some students have seen it and know it, while some students have never seen it.

So, we gave them an exit ticket. We spent one day going over simplifying with algebra tiles and then asked them to show us what they know. This can be tricky since one day isn’t quite enough for some students to dust off what they learned last year while others might have been confused because they can solve equations, but never learned how to use algebra tiles.

This is an exit ticket from a kiddo who I taught last year and did good work with algebra tiles. They are able to draw representations with the tiles but didn’t correctly use them to solve the equations. Also, I made them gave me my pen back afterwards (I don’t think they’d thought I’d noticed at first)