Good Enough for Now: The Field Trip


You might say that it’s bananas to execute a field trip during a 5-week summer school program and you might be right.

We do it anyway.

Field trip chaperoning means not really having enough time to take photos, so here’s a picture of the handout that we had kiddos do on the walk over to the park. Shout out to this kiddo who painstakingly circled all the storm drains on the way over (the field trip had an environmental focus. Kind of.)2017-07-09 20.16.16Other fun quotes and memories:

“MISTER, asì nacì, asì voy a morir.“-one of my advisees, when I caught him swearing (again). Translated: “MISTER, I was born this way, I will die this way.”

I also spent about 10 minutes trying to teach one of our students that it’s impolite to ask teachers (especially female teachers) how old they are. Didn’t get far with that one. Also, guesses of my age, by students: 25, 45, 30, 37, 32, 35. Number sense is getting better, but not really.

Kiddo, umprompted: “Mister, you speak French?”

Me (What?): “Um. No.”

Same kiddo: “That’s what math is like for me! No like math.”

Me: “Oh. Um. Je parle Francais.” (Kiddo doesn’t buy it)

As happens with our kiddos, there is soccer. There are several kiddos sporting honest-to-God soccer jerseys and fancy sweats that are probably out of my price range (and in all fairness, these kiddos probably play on several, super intense teams that are deserving of jerseys and more). When one team slaughters the other, we jokingly suggest that we shuffle players so that they have the same number of “official jerseys” on each side (the kiddos say no). The one female player eventually stalks off, amidst a string of curses. Comments about caballeros (translation: gentlemen) fall on deaf ears.

I play soccer with a few of the kiddos afterwards. I barely made the 8th grade team in middle school. I have not progressed much beyond there (but that’s good enough for now).

What do you observe? What do you wonder?


Day 13: The One with the Incomplete Graphs

I was tired at lunch today. Then there was some student drama (’cause high school) and I’m generally on the struggle bus by the end of the day anyway. So today was rough. I also forgot to bring Gatorade, didn’t have time to get coffee, and the vending machine refused to cooperate, so today’s afterschool meeting was also rough (Bless my coworkers and their infinite patience). Needless to say, not a bad day, but not a stellar example of me taking care of myself.

Photo #1: The Number TalkHow many ways can you add 46 + 37?


As part of our effort to increase numeracy and participation, we’re continuing number talks. Today, we looked at 46 + 37, figuring that it was too hard to add mentally and didn’t have any neat shortcuts like adding nines (but we could build on some of the strategies we learned by adding nines last week). This class had a long discussion about the traditional algorithm (not in those words), which I think lost some students, but felt important to discuss. We talked about whether the 1 (from 6 + 7) is a 1 or a 10, though I didn’t frame it as well as I would have liked. I think the student who multiplied 8×5 just worked his way back from the answer, which, in retrospect, is pretty cool, though I wasn’t quite sure how to address/acknowledge it at the time.

 Photos #2, 3 and 4: Patterns, Graphs and Tables

Student work connecting figures and graphsStudent work connecting figures and tablesPatterns, but no graph

Students are exploring the relationship between pile patterns (figures built of blocks) to tables and graphs. Today felt a bit rushed and I worry that student work reflects this. Students are pretty good at figuring out what the pattern of figures looks like and can fill in the table. We need a bit more practice with graphs (which we’ll do tomorrow). Photo #4 is the eponymous “incomplete graph” from one of my classes. Another teacher was quick to point out that most students take time to get  started and to build the pattern that they need to make the graph and table – not finishing everything is not (necessarily) the same as not understanding. Plus we’re spiraling in a lot of this tomorrow.

Photo #5: The Participation Quizzes


Participation Quizzes

 It’s taking me a bit of time to get back into the swing of things, especially things that happen on the fly, like grading participation quizzes. This is the second participation quiz I’ve graded this year. I forgot to give the results to one class, but I think they’ll be OK. While participation quizzes are supposed to emphasize positive things, I remembered to take points off when students were talking outside of their tables (a norm that our team is trying hard to enforce). Debating whether or not to enter them into the grade book. I think I’m shooting for one participation quiz grade a week.


Unrelated: check out the new Blue Engine Teaching Assistants! (small, education nonprofit in New York. I less-than-three them)

Questions for the Floor:

– What’s a math problem that’s just challenging enough to be too hard to do mentally?

– Is it wrong to document “bad things” on participation quizzes (with smiley faces)?

– How cranky (on a scale of “1” to “Hulk”) do you think I am without coffee AND Gatorade?

Day 41: Elevators and Negative Numbers

Weird day today – the 10th graders all took the PSAT (whole ‘nother post) so I had my 9th graders, plus the 9th graders from the other team. And also took half a day off to go to professional development.

We wanted to use what time we had wisely (with a sub facilitating at least half the classes), so my curriculum partner and I cooked up a lesson on negative numbers based on this worksheet from Illuminations. I got to see the first two classes, which happen to be my tougher classes.

Lots of students struggled with “up” being positive and “down” being negative. At one point, I made tables point up and say “up is plus” and “down is negative”, which I now wish I had made everyone do.

This photo of Jaime’s* work is pretty representative of some of the errors I saw – kiddos were able to connect the different numbers, but not always in the way I wanted them (and to be fair, I don’t know how culturally relevant elevators are to most of them):

Elevator misconceptionsI’d rate today a 3, but I don’t know how fair it is to give such a weird day a rating.

Here’s a shot of the board and my pockets and other work:

2013-10-16 19.18.25

*not his real name.