Carl's Teaching Blog

A place to talk about teaching and learning

This Week: Emerging From The [Metaphor for ‘work’]

Ok, so want to hear something weird about this school year.  I’ve been going to school for every day that wasn’t a holiday since the week I got back from my honeymoon (August 15th).  That means I’ve been working for a month when half of that was supposed to be vacation.  For many of the past two weeks of the school year, I haven’t even gotten home before 7, some days I’ve gotten home at 10, and one day after helping my wife’s school we got home at 12:30.  The weirdest thing about that?  I’ve only taught two (two!) classes so far this year.   I have developed an acumen of sorts for putting spreadsheets together, and using those spreadsheets to upload schedules.  Our school has wildly unique schedules for each student, so I have been helping out a lot with that.  Since our school is also running a rolling admissions situation, they are going to let in a group on October 1st, and I am going to pick up my teaching load with that group.

Since this year started, it’s been pretty dark and lonely for me and my spreadsheets, and I don’t think I should wait for it to end so that I can get back to my passions.  For the next two weeks I decided to pick up one class, to help with some of the school overflow so now I can talk about teaching and learning!

What I’m teaching this week

This week I am teaching problem solving for my “Mathematical Thinking” class.  I aim to work on the curriculum that I did last fall.  One thing I am surely going to do is work in more estimation. One question I had today was “How many flourescent light bulbs are there in the school?”  Last friday I asked “If I turned 33 on Sept 1st, when will I be 1/3 of century old?”  I like doing the big problems, but I think I am going to work on having a big discussion as a group about them.

What I’m blogging this week

Something.  I’m going to try to emerge from my excel tabs and write something.  Baby steps.

What I’m thinking this week

This week I’m wondering what is the thing I’m missing.  I always watch basketball players and think “If you just get a 3-point shot” or “If you just get a left-handed layup”, as if a couple hours in the gym would make them an all-star.  Assuming that it’s more or less true, what’s the thing that I’m missing?  I think it’s having productive, amazing, Magdalene-Lampert-esque classroom discussions, but I don’t know exactly how to get into the “gym” and work on that.

Read books?  Moderate other people’s subway conversations?  Do Squats?

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2 Comments

  1. Nate Goza

    Love a good basketball metaphor. Squats. Hilarious.

    I continue to think about common things that we can all work on together with coast2coast. The classroom discussion piece could be a great common goal. But I wonder how much I really want whole-group conversations. I’ve found lately that my best discussions come in a smaller setting. I’ll talk to a small group of kids, have this super rich discussion where everyone is involved and I’ll think, “I gotta bring this back to the whole-group!” Then I try to have the same discussion with the class and everyone just stairs at me. I end up having to force what was so natural a minute ago, and meanwhile, the kids I was already talking to are getting nothing because they’ve already had this conversation.

    I was thinking it would be cool if I had a go-pro on and then after a great small-group discussion I could just play the video back to the rest of the class like, “Look what just happened over there at Table 3!”

    I guess what I’m wondering is – Do I even want to get better at whole-group discussions? I always have wanted to, and I think it’s something we should talk about in our next hangout, but maybe I’d rather focus on killing it in the small group and then sharing that out somehow. Imagine a Sportscenter type highlight show of great student moments at the end of each unit! Impossible, but awesome.

    • c2cmathed_webmaster

      I love the idea of sportscenter at the end of class in lieu of a whole class share out discussion. Maybe the kids can be the narrators, and on the board you can write the list of all the “top plays” so that kids can see who is coming next. The exit ticket could relate to what connections they made between their work and one or all of the things shared. If you can’t get a gopro, having kids recap the discussion with a document camera would be cool. What do the kids who aren’t talking with you doing? How do they nominate a conversation point for “sportscenter” if you aren’t around? Can you save the comments and bring them back at the end of the unit got a sort of reflection piece? This sounds cool.

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