After my PreCalc students worked through a set of problems I was about to put up the solutions when a student asked if he could write his answers on the board. It was a perfect opportunity to give the other students another minute to finish so I gladly accepted. But he didn’t just put his answers up and sit back down. He wrote his name on the board as Mr. (his last name). He asked who had questions. He explained clearly. He showed all the steps. He checked back in with the student who had asked the question. He wondered aloud if he might want to become a math teacher. All I had to do was search for a unit circle for him to annotate and paste it into the slides. It was awesome!
This week has been rough, my co-teacher has been out (and will be for at least another month) which has been a much bigger adjustment than I expected. But my PreCalc class went splendidly today. My algebra classes were much smoother than they had been all week. I got a brief chance to chat with the sub who has been in for my co-teacher and to tell the admin in charge of sub schedules that I need time to talk to her if we’re going to be working together (especially because all my kids are unique and I need to fill her in on some of their accommodations and quirks). I’m so thankful I got to end this week on a high note. If I drop off here again please hold me accountable, I need to focus on the positives, even more so when things aren’t going great.
My algebra support class started with an engaging debate on the parity of zero. Most of the room had reached consensus that it was even but one student was holding firm to “zero is nothing so your argument is invalid.” Kids were coming up to the board and asking each other if they could try to convince him. It was awesome but then got a bit boisterous as the one kid decided to dig his heels in. I had the class move on and they demanded to know what the answer was. I smiled and replied, “What do you think?”
The rest of class went fine but they were still pretty chatty. At the end of class one student came up to me and patted me on the shoulder saying, “It was a tough class but we did okay.” It was adorable and I’m still not entirely sure if he meant that I did okay (balancing control and freedom) or they did okay (getting work done despite getting sidetracked) or both. But either way he was right, half the times I had to stop a discussion to get everyone to listen they were talking about the problem (just not sharing with the whole class). There was great math happening today, even if it was exhausting to manage.
A student stopped by this afternoon to ask if I’d help her with calculus. She said she understands the way I explain things. 😀 I’m excited for the opportunity to practice my calc skills. And she gave me a high five when I said yes!
I had my second student stay after for help with PreCalc homework today. Tomorrow will mark one week of school, usually no one stays after the first week! While I was overwhelmed and behind this afternoon I was still so excited to have a kid be responsible enough to come for extra help. I would love to have another group where they just stay after all the time to do their homework in my room. I miss that atmosphere I had a few years ago!
On Mondays we start class with a puzzle. When I read Sarah’s post on James Tanton’s math salute over the weekend I decided it would be a great puzzle to use! My students were willing to follow along (gotta love freshmen) and totally baffled when they got stuck at the end. (If you haven’t watched the video yet go do that now. Really.) Students tried. Declared it impossible. Tried again. Claimed they got it (by releasing their hands). Asked to watch the video again. Announced they never wanted to watch the video again. Claimed they got it (by going backwards from the ending position). Bingo! Everyone watch what that kid did! What a great idea to work backwards! The same student who said they never wanted to watch the video again asked if I could play it one more time. A few kids figured it out. They showed their neighbors. Everyone was engaged. It was great fun!
More than being fun, kids thought they were cheating by working backwards and I got to catch them being good. What a lovely way to introduce a powerful problem solving strategy early on in the year.
We did it! The first week of school! Yay!
Oh, you want more good than that? Okay. I’m going to be covering a class for my co-worker when she’s out on leave because her wife is having a baby. The baby was due the first day of school so we’ve been co-teaching the class until this baby gets around to arriving. Today we had the kids playing integer war in pairs and rotating partners every ten minutes. There are six kids in the class and for the first three rotations the same kids stayed in their seat each time. For the fourth rotation we wanted them to mix up and find a new partner but they were having trouble finding a way for everyone to have a new partner. We discussed (all six kids and two adults) for several minutes, collecting information and eventually even recording options on the board. I thought it was impossible but couldn’t articulate why until we had written everything out. My co-worker had a great summarizing statement: this is just like algebra! There are times when there is no solution, but you have to show evidence, not just assume that because you can’t find it it doesn’t exist.
Oh, and they ended up playing the last round in groups of three so every kid got to play with every other kid today!
When I checked my mailbox yesterday this most adorable thing was in there:
It was cute yesterday, but it was fantastic today. I was working after school and my computer was agonizingly slow. I clicked, had a Rolo, scrolled up Twitter and repeated for far too long. But chocolate and Twitter made it bearable.
My PreCalc class was great fun today. A shy student participated. I survived without my co-teacher (but I missed her). One full cycle of classes down!