# Flexible Groupings

This last week we joined 3 classes that have math at the same time and regrouped students into 3 semi-homogenous groups. We based the groupings on diagnostic data from iReady, an adapative program that gives us the grade level equivalency of students based on their performance across different strands in math:

• Number and operations
• Expression and equations
• Geometry
• Measurement and Data

My initial hesistancy when this was proposed was that this would become tracking and we’d be doing disservice to students who were below grade level. Here’s what we’re doing to ensure that this remains flexible grouping.

• We’ll be revisiting the groupings often. We’re open to moving students as needed.
• All groups take the same standard aligned exit ticket at the end of the week. The idea is to get students to be able to complete the same task,  but the process and time to get there might be different. For example this weeks goal was for students to solve ratio word problems by generating equivalent ratios. My group, Group A, where students are at grade 5 equivalency or above immediately went into solving word problems without any scaffolds, group B (grade 2-grade 4) also solved word problems, but were given a table to organize their thinking. Then group C (below 2nd grade level) started with analyzing number patterns and then moved into the same lesson as group B.

Here’s some work that my students did the first day of the flexible classes.

I haven’t yet had a chance to look at student work from the different groups yet, but I’m excited about this a lot more than I was when it was first proposed. I’m looking forward to seeing students move around between groups in order to get the support that they need.

# Ramadan Lenscape: Parallel Lines, Symmetry, and Tiles

This is my first photo share post. Hope to share more as I experience the month of Ramadan.

### Ramadan is a time where many Muslims increase prayer.

I’ll be spending many nights on this carpet standing in straight rows amidst hundreds of Muslims in prayer. Many mosques, including mine, have tiled carpet that are used in the prayer spaces. The carpet can vary from simple to intricate design, but usually have some sort of symmetry and tiling. Standing in straight parallel lines is vital for any prayer done in congregation.

### Our differences sometimes divide us.

Islam allows for differences – different cultural norms, backgrounds, and even Islamic practices, but sometimes they become a point of tension within a group of people.

Perhaps we:

• don’t pray like each other
• begin fasting on different days
• have opposing opinions about what we can or cannot eat
• have opposing opinions about roles/gender norms

### Parallel lines never meet, but standing in straight parallel lines is a reminder of our unity.

At the end of the day we (i.e. Muslims) all have the same core belief and goal of building our relationship with God through the 5 pillars and same values – treating family, friends, neighbors, and the larger community with the dignity they deserve and being of service when necessary…and well just being a good human. Regardless of where we stand on matters such as above, when the time for prayer comes in and the prayer call is made we stand together feet to feet – shoulder to shoulder.

Ramadan officially started yesterday at sunset. For the next 30 days or so a billion plus Muslims will be observing the holy month by fasting. It’s a time of spiritual growth, extending generosity, and connecting with God. Observing Ramadan  looks very different across the Muslim world since it’s a VERY diverse community and it even varies from person to person as people establish their own personal Ramadan goals. I hope to capture some of my own moments in this month with photographs that reflect both something about Ramadan and math because … Duh!

And if anyone who happens to read my blog has any questions, feel free to ask and I’ll try my best to answer them.

# Week One: One Good Thing!

Last week, I pledged to participate in explore #mtbos’s blogging initiation. I’m really glad blogging about one good thing is one of the options this week. It reminded me to dig up an old blog I used to keep (infrequently) for myself my first year of teaching: now renamed Positive Vibes. I’ve copied over my one good thing from this week.

## One Good Thing: Persistence Means Not Giving Up!

I gave my students their performance task this week. This is the first time (ever) that I have completely let go and did not offer explicit help. I stole something I got from my colleague that she uses for students to write independently called “Try 3 before Me”. Instead of asking 3 people for help, the students are doing three specific things before they can ask for help. For my students that included utilizing their INB, math work book, creating a K-W-L chart, and mindful breathing. Their options were outlined on a poster.

As students worked I circulated and answered only clarifying questions or re-read the question. I did ask some probing questions to some of my students who were ready to extend their thinking, but I kept hands off as much as I could. I was really proud to see the persistence of my students the past two days. By no means is their work perfect, but students were using the resources I provided, attempted problems, and struggled through them without giving up! I’m also proud of myself for letting go because it’s really hard to see students struggle.

This upcoming week, I hope to blog a day in my life…but I’ll do that when I am a bit more sane.

# Edcamp in the Classroom

After reading about Justin Aion’s Edcamp experience in the classroom, I was prettying psyched to try it out in my own classroom. +1

I shared my idea with my coworker and she too was ready to try it out the following week. +2 for Edcamp.

I sent the link of Justin’s blog to my math team and my principal immediately responded with great enthusiasm. Danielson 3C (student engagement) +100 points for Edcamp.

Amongst many other conversations and student midterms the idea got put on the back burner. And then it resurfaced today.

One of my classes was going to work on their quiz corrections today. This class is usually co taught, but my coteacher was scheduled to grade the science midterms. So with one less adult in the room, the cries of Ms.K became too much to deal with, too fast. And so I remembered Edcamp.

I brought out the sliding whiteboard, wrote down a list numbered 1-16, and had teams come up and put their names next to any question they received a 3 or 4 in (which means they mastered that particular standard-SBG). Then I told students when you’re stuck on a problem, those are the students you need to turn to. If you’re one of those people on the list for a particular question and someone asks for help, you need to explain your thinking and strategy.

And so edcamp began and it was great!!

Glows:

• Student-student interaction. FTW!
• My students were really engaged. I believe I had 95% of the students engaged and on task for about 90-95% of the time.
• It made students accountable to one another. Whenever students asked me for help or if they were stuck, I just pointed to the board.
• I was so proud to see some of my low ability students actually “teaching” and explaining concepts to my higher ability students.
• Even though I had the data, I quickly saw which outcomes (standards) students have mastered and which ones I would need to address at some point during reteaching week.
• It freed me up to check-in with those who really needed more guidance.

Grows:
• It was really helpful for some students to have access to a whiteboard and markers. So I had them use the one on my easel and the one on the back shelf. Next time I might consider having the mini whiteboards as materials for them in the beginning.
• There was one student who lost his quiz when I handed it back.  Luckily, my co teacher had prepared some work–so i had him work on it during the edcamp.  But I wonder how he can still be involved with the edcamp process.  what about a student who was absent the day before.
• False information: this time around we used quizzes that had already been graded–though it is still possible that even a student with a 3 on an outcome explains it incorrectly. What if students are working on tasks that have not been pre-checked.  It helps that I co-teach all of my classes, so one of us can check in with the groups.
• Off task students were a concern, but I did go over the expectations and said we’d return to our seats if the expectations of Edcamp were not being met…and of course I always add, and I know that will not be the case because you all have the ability to meet these expectation.
• Next time I do this, it will probably be with my co-teacher in the room, and I think that this is a great opportunity for one of us to take some low inference observation notes, especially on the strengths of students ability to explain their thought process.
• There were a few key questions that most of the students did not get a 3 in, so I need to cut off Edcamp at a point and address those particular questions. This time I didn’t since I do have reteaching week and thought I would address them then.
I’m excited to try it again!

# Ms. K’s Korner

My name is Sahar Khatri and I’m a first year math teacher with fears, anxieties, hopes, and a whole load of excitement.  I teach 6th grade math in a new middle school in the Bronx.

I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I could remember–well except for one summer when I wanted to be an interior designer (which I owe to watching HGTV each second I was awake. Thank you DesignStar!). I’ve had remarkable teachers throughout my life and before I even went to college, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  Now years of undergrad + grad school + student teaching + tutoring … here I am.

This currently paints a true picture of my energy by the end of the week, but even then…I love what I do.

Here are a few things that I love about my job:

•  I love walking into work every (well let’s be real…”mostly every“) morning and spending the first 25 minutes of my day with my advisory students. Particularly I love using the “Connection Protocol” with them.
• I love that even on the crappiest days I can list about three good things that have happened. The good things are usually remarks, shenanigans, and at times the brilliance of my students.
• Call me crazy, but I do love my sixth graders. They’re constantly on an emotional roller coaster, but I think that’s what makes them well…middle schoolers.
• Teamwork/Collaboration:  We’re a small school AND a new school, so I’m sure that’s a factor. There’s so much to do and so few of us. Regardless, I love the people that I work with because each day I see how hard everyone is working together….and it shows in the consistency of how we teach, speak, and manage our students.
• Our math department rocks! Our math department consists of four teachers + our math coach.  Call me biased, but I love the work that we’re doing and the things we are choosing to focus on. More about that in my next post :D!
• It’s hard, but I love that I co-teach all three of my math sections.

Exploring the MathBlogsphere

These next few days I’ll be exploring the mathtwitterblogosphere, which I was introduced to by none other than Sam Shah after attending a new-teacher-boot camp/PD (led by @pispeak) with him over the summer.

One of my goals this year (besides eating on time and sleeping at a decent hour) is improving my questioning skills in the classroom so that I can give one or two concise questions that my students will explore with the overarching goal of creating a student-centric classroom.

Ambitious much? Hell freakin’ yes!

Clearly I have much to learn and I can’t wait to explore what is out there!