Lots of learning = Good day

I leave school feeling encouraged today because of the amount of learning that I saw.

Today, in my third period class we started working on making that “Cartesian Connection”–connecting a patterns with graphs with algebra with tables. It’s a central part of the CPM algebra curriculum.

Most of my students were able to successfully look at a table of numbers such as

x 0 1 2 3 4 10
y 3 9 15 21 27 63

and generate a rule for it: y = 6x + 3. This is something they could not do just a few days ago. And they seem to be really understanding. Some of them were able to explain to me that the reason the “6” is where it is in the algebraic rule is because the pattern of blocks grows by 6 each time.

pattern6

But here’s the thing: Sometimes I worry that if any of my colleagues or administration were to walk in my class, they will think the class is out of control and that no learning is happening. Certainly, there was a lot of talking and lots of movement. Students find it hard to sit still for a long time. But, there was still a great deal of work and learning being done–more than I’ve seen in this class in a while. Furthermore, there were lots of meaningful mathematical conversations taking place. Students were saying things like “I think it should be 6x+3 because…” or “I think Figure 0 should have 3 blocks because of the pattern of numbers…” I’m sure I have a long way to go in developing classroom management and effective discipline, but I’m okay with a noisy classroom if there is real learning happening. I made sure to give positive feedback to the class on their good effort.

In geometry, today we learned about the incenter (intersection of the angle bisectors in a triangle) and learned how to construct it in two ways: using patty paper and using compass and straightedge. Again, there was a good deal of learning taking place today. Many students were able to find the incenter using compass and straightedge, and that is a relative intricate task for them. We ended the class with some dynamic geometry software on my tablet computer and the students seemed to enjoy that.

So, a good day overall. Someone please remind me about days like this when I feel like quitting.

Yucky Monday

Not a great way to start off the week. Lots of resistance and defiance from students today. Few stand out moments.

In third period, we (me and the resource teacher) instituted seating charts to get students used to doing group work. One student was very publicly criticizing her group: “I don’t like my group and don’t want to work with them.”

In sixth period, one student was texting during her class. It took about 2 or 3 minutes before she would give me her phone. She’s very mature and very emotionally manipulative and the interaction totally drained me. (“Well if I’m going to give you my phone I don’t want your dirty hands to touch it so go get some paper to wrap it first.”)

It’s also discouraging to see how many students complete their homework, even after I explain how important it is to practice to get good at math.

Days like this really make me dislike my job.