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MN, United States
Tutor, Business Owner, Technology innovator

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

New Stress-old story

Photo by Kristine Lewis via Flickr
This year marks my first in long time of having a struggle class be THE struggle class. Normally I like to do an activity with them I got from NCTM in the first month called “A Matter of Survival,” and the students usually play it out prettty well. This class could not focus for more than 2 minutes! It took me at least 20 minutes to tally their data. (October).

Now they have been struggling to focus enough to understand the concepts...it almost borderlines dyscalculia.  Dyscalculia, according to Wikipedia, is " is difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic, such as difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, and learning facts in mathematics. It is generally seen as a specific developmental disorder." Wikipedia reference

They've been a distraction to themselves for so long, they missed capstone learning moments to solidify their number theory from the 6th grade before coming to the high school (we only have two buildings in our district.)  This is where I had to research and find a common ground where I can challenge them just enough and they feel they accomplished something (not push them forward).

Some of the resources were geared toward this very thing.  Dr. Jo Boaler gives some guidance to this avenue through You Cubed.Also I've taken some direction from Sara Van Der Werf's blog to keep it real (when I can).

I've learned: 
1. They do better with (color) abstractions than concrete (weird)
2. They can handle short assignments (similar to those on an IEP)
3.  It takes a long learning curve to find what motivates and engages them, persistence is key.

When measured at the beginning of the year, are they were I want them?  No.
Are they making progress?  YES  

Learning to celebrate the (littlest) victories is what I need to help this group, where they have made four prior teachers consider going elsewhere throughout their gradeschool.

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Oh my... I have operated under the radar for the last year. There are so many things that have happened. For one, my post from winter quarter disappeared. Can't remember everything, so here goes... The picture you see is of my daughter being ready for summer camp before I left her for the week.

 I realize that I will yet again be teaching college now algebra (this was ladt fall). . Based on my last experience I was not excited to do what I had done the previous year. However when the school year started, I then realized how sweet a schedule I actually had.  Actually this year's college now class was very concerned about their learning. There were a few, of course, that tried to command my attention, and I reminded them of course, this was a college-level class which required college level expectations.

There was also a question whether or not I would return the following year and if so what capacity would I be teaching. It made me look for other possibilities well still studying methods and tips that I have learned with my colleagues through #MCTMduluth.  But then I found out that not only will I be returning but I will be teaching a new class which was to be college now trigonometry.

Amazing, I also got to take a grad level class I actually liked: proportional thinking for conceptual understanding.  I like this place a lot because it helped reinforce skills that I taught myself when I did not understand my teachers when I was in school. I admit when I went to this year's College Now workshop I felt I have actually been doing right by my students, listening to other teachers' stories.

 Long story short I have yet to get ready for my daughter's wedding, do paperwork and administrative tasks as the local unions president, and to study some curriculum ideas before the school year actually rolls out. One of my resources just provided me some homework to do. It's at MCTM's Mathbits. Sara Van Der Werf challenges the math teachers to check the sites listed to brainstorm as we prepare for our year.

Oh, and I get to take another grad class, Probability and Stats for teachers (yes!)

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel