My Teaching Journey

through the intersection of math and middle school

Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Change in Position for Next Year

Today our principal told us our teaching teams for next year. I’ll be teaching on a two-person team in seventh grade. Yippee!

I’ve taught math for the last three years–one year in sixth grade and the past two years in eighth grade–so being able to teach seventh grade math will round out my experience in all three grades (but only sort of since the Common Core changes lots of standards).

But wait! I’m on a two-person team, which means I get to teach TWO subjects. My other subject is social studies, and I’m getting more and more excited about it. I was a history major as an undergrad and social studies has always been my first love, although I truly love middle school math topics.

This is what I’m looking forward to next year…

  • My teammate is awesome in every sense of the word.
  • One of the other social studies teachers is as detail-oriented as I am, and we get along famously.
  • Collaborating with other math teachers to further my understanding of high-quality math instruction
  • Collaborating with other social studies teachers. I will have to chance to learn about teaching another subject! So stoked!
  • Collaborating with other content teachers to create awesome interdisciplinary IB units
  • Teaching the same students twice each day. This gives me more time to build relationships and the chance to have a huge positive impact on their learning.
  • I get to learn about the inner workings of seventh graders, who are truly unique animals.

Some of my concerns…

  • Learning new math standards. Since some of the standards will be new, everyone will be learning together, and I can help with standards that are coming down from the eighth grade and standards that are coming up from the sixth grade.
  • Learning social studies content. Is it s cruel joke that they got the guy whose last name is Hussain to teach about Africa and Asia? Just kidding! I’m excited to share my cultural experience with my students. I’m hoping my students can interview my dad about Pakistani culture, and maybe the wife’s sister (who is teaching elementary school in Israel) can be pen pals with my students.

I’ll be content with whomever I teach, on any grade level and in any subject, but I feel very blessed with the way that next year is beginning to take shape.

Logic Puzzles and Math Remediation

We have 9 1/2 days left, and as the year ends, we are holding it together. “It” refers to our students. “Together” means we haven’t had any fights recently, but several of our pooh-bears have had trips to ISS since the Very Big Deal Government Mandated Tests ended last Wednesday.

Our district is one of the last in the region to cut summer school due to the budget constraints (the proposed budget for next year has reductions of almost 8 million dollars compared to this year’s budget). That means students in 5th and 8th grade who fail the Very Big Deal Government Mandated Test must retake it the last week of school rather than after four weeks of summer school (which was really only 13 instructional days last summer due to the four-day week and Memorial Day). The Metro Atlanta counties led the trend a few years ago, and I’ve heard lots of details from the mom-in-law about her elementary school’s model, so I wasn’t too surprised about the widespread upheaval it caused in the eighth grade.

Since students have to retake The Tests in math and reading, we were instructed by the district to begin remediation with students this week. We made groups based on benchmark exams and class performance, and brought back three of our student teachers as subs to help cover classes while math and ELA teachers are remediating. I know this is the reality of budgets and such, but it’s not a whole lot of fun. I already taught a math ELT (“extended learning time” or “extra learning time”), which is for the students who struggle in math, and that class is still meeting. Almost all of my math ELT students are in the math remediation, and some still have a regular math class, which means they may have three hours of a math instruction and forty-five minutes of math computer intervention before coming to me in ELT at the end of the day.

I’m not doing more remediation in ELT. Today I gave them the choice of previewing ninth grade math content, reviewing eighth grade math content, or doing logic puzzles. They chose to split each period between previewing ninth grade content and logic puzzles.

Today I threw this up (thanks to a guest post on Continuous Everywhere but Differentiable Nowhere a while ago). It didn’t fail, just like Anand said. They weren’t in the mood to write anything, but a small and passionate crowd gathered at the SmartBoard. Look closely; one student even turned the picture upside down and sideways at one point because he thought it would help solve the problem. I’ll have to break the news to them tomorrow that it’s impossible to solve.

I’ve dreaded ELT for the past three days, but I’m looking forward to it tomorrow…logic puzzles and factoring quadratics, here we come!