Stay Focused: The One with Scratch Paper


We have many scaffolds for many levels of English during Portfolios. Some of our more beginner kiddos (including those who may not know how to read or write in their home language) tell me what they want to say, I translate it, then write it down, and then they copy it. Maybe not the best way, but it’s a start. It’s the best idea I’ve currently got and it’s much better than my first years of teaching (where I would shrug and not know what to do).

They’ve come such a long way. And such a long way to go.

What do you notice? What do you wonder?

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Day 66: The One With the Self-Made Scaffolds


Continuing with Coordinate Geometry and finding the length of line segments. We didn’t quite get to the part where we take out the visual scaffolds, as seems to be the theme of this unit.

I’ve been thinking lately about how the kiddos annotate text and take notes to advance their learning, so my favorite part of this is the part where the kiddo wrote in their own scaffolds.


Day 134: The One Where the Diamonds and Rectangles Come Together


So interesting to be back today after basically 3 days away (“Mister, were you here yesterday?” *long pause* “No, Katrina…were you?”). We’re in the middle of teaching factoring quadratics, so it’s been interesting to see what kiddos have picked up and remembered and what they haven’t.

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I love a good group task, so it’s always interesting to see when individual practice goes over well. To be fair, we’ve been learning about how to factor quadratics based off of CPM‘s diamond and generic rectangle problems. So there are many parts and it is procedural and it is tricky to watch it all come together. That being said, it feels like students got a pretty solid idea of how the whole process works. We gave them an example that they had to explain to other students and then let them practice. We try to think a lot about scaffolding and not scaffolding, so it was great to see students adding back scaffolds that they found useful once we removed them.

Day 161: The One With the Zombie Apocalypse

Content is over. Portfolios are here.

Because our kiddos are all English Language Learners, our summative assessments look a little different. Content ends two weeks early and the kiddos spend the majority of their day with their advisor, writing and reflecting on what they’ve learned during the semester.

Photo 1: Target Notes and Post-itsTarget notes with post-itsTo help the kiddos organize their thinking, we have them complete a graphic organized called a target note (because it’s shaped like a target). They fill out their thesis, make 3 claims and support those claims with evidence and analysis. (Some of our awesome teachers revamped them this year so that the format is easier to follow and has the kiddos talk more about what they’ve learned and the projects they’ve done).

One kiddo had another teacher proofread their target notes after school. The teacher had some great ideas and rather than having the kiddo write them into the target notes, had them write their revisions on post-its.

I find that some kiddos are resistant to revising their writing since it means “more work”. The post-it note reduces some of that “work” and also helps them see the changes they’ve made. (I suspect most kiddos aren’t used to doing multiple drafts or the idea of reading something to make it better).

Photo 2: The Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse Target NotesOur amazing biology teachers did a unit on eco-systems which prominently features the zombie apocalypse. During portfolios, we ask our students to provide¬†evidence and analysis as part of their essays about what they learned. One of the kiddos did a decent job providing evidence from what they learned…and then justified it using their ability to survive the zombie apocalypse. I tried to figure out if this was a content issue or a language issue, but when I mentioned it to the student, they groaned and rolled their eyes, so…