Day 16: The One With the Patterns Group Quiz


We start the week off (from a 3-day weekend, no less) with a group quiz. The idea is that the kiddos seem what the quiz will look like and have a chance to work through it and talk together as a group. They then take a study day, in class, to translate the words they don’t know and make a perfect quiz using a rubric.

Last question on a group quiz:img_8875I’m rather fond of the 4 square (OK, 6 square) format. I also had to chase down one of the kiddos in after-school tutoring to take this photo. Apparently, they’re all using their binders this year. Which is kinda cool (but makes #teach180 weirdly difficult).

Also, after giving 4 sections of group quizzes, I went to a school meeting and then a district meeting. Both worthwhile, both pretty busy. Then I went home and tried to write a meeting agenda until I fell asleep. #TeacherLife



(Side note: We used the opening to generate norms which theoretically became the rubric for our participation quiz. Kinda sorta worked. Room for improvement next time)

Day 4: Number the Patterns


If yesterday was the first day of actual content, today was the first day of actual relevant content. (And groupwork absolutely counts as content, it’s just not as much in the content standards. Perhaps “timely” is a better word than “relevant”).

Our first unit uses pile patterns to look at linear relationships (side note: “patterns” is confusing enough for emerging bilinguals, so I’m dropping the “pile” and just saying “patterns”). It’s pretty visual and therefore accessible, which makes it a great starting unit. We also did our first participation quiz today. Kiddos work together on a group task while I monitor and try to highlight group behaviors that help move them forward (like pointing at specific parts of the pattern, working with their group in the middle of the table, leaning in so they can work together, etc). (Similar to Class Dojo, but on paper and thus subject to me getting distracted)

We’re off to a decent start, though I wish I had done some more explicit modeling on how to show patterns. Kiddos seem to be able to find the pattern relatively quickly, but showing their thinking around the pattern is tricky. Counting the number of squares in each part feels helpful.

Photo: Our opening and some patterns. What do you notice? What do you wonder?

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Objectives and opening:2016-08-18 15.34.49.jpg

I didn’t take photos of my participation quiz notes, but we’re doing it again tomorrow! (So wait until then?)

Day 18: The One With “Go Back to Your Seat”

As part of our unit project (graphing cost, revenue and profit for different number of items), we spent Thursday learning about cost, revenue and profit. This is much condensed from the last time this project was taught 2 years ago (when it spanned about 3 months).

We learned about cost, revenue and profit through a reading guide. Teachers at our school write reading guides as scaffolded mini-articles where students read a passage together, then complete certain tasks after reading. This plays nicely into our focus on supporting reading this year. Usually, the tasks involve language functions like making predictions and inferences, but since our class is a math class, we usually do math tasks (calculate profit, calculate revenue, etc).

Photo: “We are working. Go (back) to your group.”
We are working. Go to your team

Reading guides can be tricky. Students are supposed to read and stay with their groups. One of my classes is particularly antsy and there were students who were constantly getting up and asking friends at other tables how to solve problems. While I admire their commitment to finishing a task, one of my groupwork goals is for students to learn to work and talk with their group (rather than just their friends).

Intervention #1: I taught groups that were often visited by wanderers how to say “We are working. Go (back) to your group.” (I was slightly flustered and forgot to add the word “back” when I wrote it on the board). I like this phrase. It emphasizes that the group is working. It emphasizes the behavior the wayward student should do. It isn’t quite as prickly as “go away” (which one of the kiddos constantly yells at other students. Sigh). It helps students who are doing the right thing actively redirect their peers in a more positive way. We’ll see if it works.

Intervention #2: During the reading guide, I did a participation quiz, meaning that students earn points based on positive groupwork behaviors (reading in English, working together in the middle of the table, leaning in) and lose points if they leave their group or are not working. With 10 minutes to go (and realizing that many students were wandering), I showed groups the scores they were currently earning (and actually took points away from one group while they talked over me). I then crossed out the scores they were earning and told them they could raise their scores by following the positive group behaviors we had talked about earlier. To my surprise, students stayed in their seats for the rest of the period.

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?