So... what am I doing?
For my first week, the goal was to create a space where students felt like they belonged, and do as much math as early and as often as we/they could manage. I know that I could have done better, yet I'm happy with where it ended. Here's what I did, courtesy of plenty of other really cool people:
- Name Tents (courtesy of Sara Van Der Werf)
- Welcome Back Form (thwarted when kids didn't have login information... whoopsie. Courtesy of Mari Venturino)
- 4 4's Activity (SO MUCH FUN. Courtesy of Jo Boaler)
I told students that I wanted them to use their phones, and to have them out, but to keep it respectful. I'm well aware that phones are a distraction; I feel it as well. It will be a balancing act all year, and I'd rather have the understanding that they can use them than can't.
At the end of the period, students filled out the first box of their name tent, and I spent the afternoon responding to every single one of them.
- Continue with 4 4's Activity to show students how perseverance has its benefits.
- In groups of 4, students worked to complete Challenge 4 from this set (courtesy of Math Pickle, shared by Melanie Janzen) and I wasn't sure how it would go. Lo and behold, so many of my students did well. What they didn't realize that I couldn't care less about them getting the right answers; it was merely a focused way to have them talk to each other, and it worked. My room was noisy for the first time in forever.
- After 5 minutes, I paused each group and had them rotate their paper around the room in a snake pattern. This was one way to get cross-group collaboration without having students physically switch groups, mitigating the potential "close contact" variations. It also provided other groups a chance to see what their peers were coming up with. We did this in 3 rotations.
- When the students got their papers back, they saw what others had done to it. My hope was that other groups would contribute ideas to others, and all would feel like they had learned a little something. It was a BIG success, in my opinion.
- By now, students had received their Chromebooks and had been warned to bring them to school.
- We worked on this "building patterns" activity that I created from Fawn Nguyen's visualpatterns.org set
- Most students worked on the set using the Chromebook, and many others chose to write it out on paper. Either way, the entire purpose of this was to (again) get students to talk to each other, and to recognize patterns, something we are going to be doing all year with the Open Up Resources curriculum.
- This is the first day in which some of the students really struggled, so it was on me to find ways to encourage and reinforce where they were at. It wasn't perfect, but it was a good day of learning.
- Visual Pattern
- Visual Pattern 2
- We looked at each pattern individually, and worked together to build the next 3 steps, then (gasp) step 43. Yeah, we did hard things today.
- We wrapped up, once again, writing in our name tent space, as we had done all week long. I loved some of the responses and questions, giving me an insight into who was in the classroom and their personalities.
- Blue Sheet
- Practices Problems
- Today was the first day we did some straight up mathy math. I felt like it was a good transition from puzzles to puzzles to puzzles to puzzles to math. For each unit we are committing to create a blue sheet, a rendition of Sara Van Der Werf's Green Sheets.
- The goal with the Blue Sheet is that we didn't want to spend a week reviewing old material. This is a way to cut down on some of the nuance and get deeper into grade-level content. It's not that we refuse to review, but it won't be to the point where we go weeks before jumping into grade-level material.
This week was exhausting, exasperating, fulfilling, nerve-racking, and filled with anxiety. It was every emotion I could imagine, all in a 120 hour span of my life. I was anxious about masks and student compliance, but had very few issues. I was excited to have a classroom full of 35 students, and nervous about interactions to ensure that everyone in the room felt like they were safe. I will say, it was safe enough for two students to come out to me, safe enough to get kids to laugh, and safe enough to dive in and do math after being out of rhythm for over a year and a half.
I don't know how the rest of the year will go, or even next week, and I'm learning to be ok with that.
Partly because of that, I am making a change to my homework policy. Call me selfish, but I don't really want to have the stress of getting students to turn things in. Teachers' mental health, amirite?
Happy "It's Good To Be Back" Fishing