Week 2

I would love to participate in #teach180, but I am not ready for this yet. Instead of #teach180, I am committing to #teach37, meaning I will be writing and reflecting on 37 weeks of my school year.

Week 2 in one sentence: I’m exhausted.

This year, I’m using Illustrative Mathematics’ Open Up Resources (IM-OUR) with my grade 6 and 7 classes. I’m pleasantly surprised how well the curriculum writers in IM-OUR team know the students. The lessons were just challenging enough and each lesson builds on another, deepening students’ conceptual understanding every day.

Even though the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs encourages teachers to develop their own curriculum, I cannot agree enough with @misscalcul8 that “teaching and curriculum writing are two different professions”. I am very thankful that IM-OUR decided to make their curriculum public.

I am spending at least 3 hours every day planning and adjusting the lessons to make it relevant to my students. I had to find ways to help my English learning students (> 90%) to make sense of the problem and gain access to the content. I had to changed some of the American context to something they are familiar with (e.g. Chicago map to Kazan map). I like most of the problems in IM-OUR in general, but I wonder how I can make the problem even more open ended, yet accessible to the students. I would like to do a better job at launching the tasks.

Here are some of the mistakes or rusty moves that I made this week:

  1. I randomly chose students to share their thoughts and it got very messy. I did a better job throughout the week to use the five practices to facilitate discussion.
    1. It is very hard to use the five practices well, especially when some of the tasks is less than 10 minutes long and I spent a huge chunk of my time to reexplain the tasks so that my students understand problem.  The focus of week 3 would be doing a better job at making sure students understand the problem before releasing students to work.
    2. It’s hard to monitor students’ thinking when most of them don’t write things down on paper, or they don’t talk to each other as much as I wanted to. Maybe I need to choose a better tasks or spend more time teaching students to work in groups. Perhaps vertical non-permanent surface (VNPS) might help, but I don’t have access to that yet.
  2. I set a clear learning target for each day and I get too caught up with that. I feel anxious when students have not make sense of the new concepts for themselves. I ended up had one student shared their discovery and summarize the learning for the day for everyone. Learning is a messy process and I want to be comfortable with that. Moving forward, I would like to provide more time and opportunity for students to make sense for themselves before doing a recap together, even if it takes a few days. I want to remain faithful to my goal for this year: “Students say it before I say it”.
  3. I am starting to see some learning gaps between students and I wish to narrow the gap. Equity has always been my huge focus every year, and it is also one that I struggle with the most. It’s hard.

Good things in Week 2:

  1. A student gave me a hugged and thank me for a great week of math.
  2. Another student thank me for accepting their mistakes and let them know that mistakes are good in my class.
  3. Participated in two Global Math Department’s Webinar this week. There’s a lot to reflect and think about to promote thinking and equity in my classroom.
    1. Being Equity Minded in the Teaching of Mathematics
    2. Building Thinking Classroom
  4. Read Laura Baucom‘s post on “Belonging is different from invitation, and the distinction matters“. It really hit home to me since I often took me a long time before I feel belonged. I’m also thinking about what I can do better to help each and every one of my students to feel belonged.

Favorite Task of the Week:

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