Day 57: More Mobiles (Maybe)

Stages of the Mobile Project

Stages of the Mobile Project

More work on the Mobile Project today (recap: students choose an object, identify the shapes, and create a mobile object with an area of 200 cm squared. Sound easy? Yeah, that’s what I thought, too). Students started at all stages of the project today and I’m not sure if we’re closer or further together now. One class feels further behind, two feel like we’re making progress and one…I don’t know.

Today’s picture(s) show various stages of the project. The yellow picture is a drawing of a house that one student (who was absent for a bit and is frequently distracted) drew today. I’m pretty pumped for them.

The yellow person is the stage where the student uses a grid to show that their object (the person) is 200 centimeters squared. Right now the person is 60 centimeters squared. I think they can do it, even though we have extremely short periods tomorrow (40 minutes instead of 65 minutes). This student is also easily distracted and I’m psyched they got this far today.

The green and blue truck is actually a tree-truck created by a pair of pretty spunky students. They’re from yesterday’s Dark Horse Class, which has the most finished objects so far. These kids started out wanting to create cars (We’ll make cars! And motors! ¿Còmo se dice “llantas” en ingles?). After struggling valiantly all of yesterday, they came up to me holding the green rectangle and blue circle at the right five minutes into the period today.

“We made a tree!” they exclaimed.

“Too easy,” I said. “What happened to that carro chèvere you were making?”

So they enlisted their friends to create a truck (’cause Complex Instruction). This was in the midst of kids running around with glue guns, a giant box of foam, a pencil sharpening accident and a referral.

“We made a truck!” they exclaimed about 20 minutes later (their friends watched, too).

“Too big,”I said. “It has to be 200 centimeters.”

They’re now in the process of measuring it and cutting it down to size. They’re less than thrilled with me, but they’ll survive. This a case of me not being not as clear with expectations as I’d hoped and an amazing case of students persevering and revising work,

Where I’m At and Where I Need To Be

Things I’m thinking about these days:

Trying to stay on top of grading. I feel like I’m behind on grading. Students keep asking about their grades (which are not quite up to date). And I feel like every day I don’t hand back a graded quiz, homework or project is a day where the feedback becomes less timely and less helpful. That being said, I have a solid block of grading time ahead of me tonight and I know which quizzes/projects and classes to prioritize. I also try and grade with other teacher friends to keep me on track (though admittedly, I spent this time planning today, which leads me to…)

Trying to stay on top of planning: Fortunately, this unit (area) is based on a unit that my curriculum partner inherited from another (fantastic) teacher two years ago (we are writing/revising this 2-year curriculum as we go). So while we’re still planning day-to-day, we have a stronger sense of what we’re doing. We’re about to plan a reciprocal teaching day (her students teach mine and vice versa) and a unit project, which shouldn’t be as intense as the previous unit, but should still be engaging (I hope). I’m trying to be better about fleshing out day-to-day lesson plans. This helps me think better on my feet and helps me better connect what we’re doing now to what we will be doing in a few days.


Fortunately, I am not trying to balance elephants.

Language Support: I go back and forth on how I’m doing in this area. Sometimes I think I’m oversupporting students in their native language (either by speaking to them in Spanish or putting them next to a student who can translate) and sometimes I think most of the struggles in class are due to a lack of language support. I think I’m finding a balance and I know which students I can push and where. At the very least, I am expecting them to be able to say important vocabulary words and numbers in English. (for context, my entire school is English Language Learners)

Metaphors: There are so many metaphors for the stage of the first year that I’m at now. The math teacher in me tries to relate everything to whether the graph of how I feel is concave up or down (I think the second derivative is positive now). I may have texted a friend that the honeymoon between my students and me was over, but we’re comfortable putting our feet up on the table and eating cold pizza. I think the best description is from a fellow first year teacher who said that he had struggled for a few weeks and although he didn’t quite have everything under control, he felt like he could see where he and his classroom needed to be in a few months. Which I think is a good description of where I feel like I’m at, too.