Prepping for Fourth Quarter #MTBoS2020

Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described herehttps://docs.google.com/document/d/1bD-zYHpkP0RR7shkovBtOEB4c_rlSuiUKtJCQtid9QY/edit You should join! And if you’re just here to read, then I hope you get something out of it! It turned into a pretty long post in the end and is kind of all over the place.

At the time I’m writing this, the US is experiencing a pandemic with COVID-19. Schools, restaurants, gatherings across the country are shutting down. I am in my Spring Break right now but then one more week has been canceled after that (for all of Illinois). The nearby Iowa schools are closed until April 10, so I have a feeling we’ll be extending our cancellations, too. There has been no report from my school yet on if we will be doing e-learning like a lot of other schools, but I don’t really know how we would since we are not 1-1 with anything and a good chunk of our learners don’t have reliable internet at home. I’m sure I’ll be hearing in the next couple of days on a further plan for the closed week(s). My night class at the community college has us trying out video conferencing to replace our classes. We’ll see how that goes on Thursday.

I did a really poor job of preparing for 4th quarter before I left for Spring Break. I thought I’d be at school every day of my second week of Spring Break because I signed up to help with our Catch Up Academy (credit recovery) and I just figured I’d come in early or stay late a couple of days to get work done. I also had to leave right after school on our last Friday for a band event I was already late to, so my room is not all nice and pretty and ready like I usually try to have it be when I return after a break. My school is closed to everyone so I can’t even go in to grab all the school stuff I left there. I’m a tiny bit worried about my plants that I thought only had to be without checking-on for a week, but they’re aloe and a terrarium that I never touch normally, so they should be ok.

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[Totally off-topic: I got an orchid at home last year and it did its normal thing and lost its petals after a few months, but my mom said that it would grow back if I just kept treating it like I did when it had petals and this week we got our first bloom! I honestly can’t believe it worked. We have a bunch more buds coming, too. It’s like magic that I’ve been waiting many months for the reveal. You can even see some of the petals I still haven’t cleaned up from when they fell last fall…And also the plant behind the orchid is a bromeliad we got last month and it might be my new favorite. Our succulents finally all died so we got a much brighter replacement that is so far very easy to manage and is doing great! I’m a big fan of live plants but I (used to) have a hard time keeping them alive.]

But I brought home my laptop and my Always-Go-Home folder! (Side note: do you have one of those? I have a purple folder I’ve had since my first year of teaching that has come home with me every day – it holds my calendar, a pencil, and anything else that is important/needs to stay at home/random one paper that needs to be graded/etc.) I also wrote up every topic that still needs to be taught before I left for break (woo for thinking a little ahead!).

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So this is our first year with traditional Geometry instead of integrated courses and then our Algebra 1 last year was all kind of spliced together as best we could from the old integrated courses and now we have a textbook that I don’t use but it’s there if the learners want it. So I have some topics I’ve taught before and just have to re-label them with the new chapter. Or I’ll have to move around some assessment items. I have a slash through Geo Ch 8 because I already actually did all the planning for that before I left since we left in the middle of the unit. I honestly think right triangles and trig is my favorite unit of all in Geometry. Or maybe the 3D stuff. It’s hard to decide.

I have never taught my new Algebra 1 Ch 10 (except I’ve taught exponential graphs and operations on functions). I’ve also never taught my new Geometry Ch 12 (but I have a strong feeling that is going to be cut with us having less time and we coded it “if possible” in our pacing guide). What have you done with those topics that I should try?

It’s a weird feeling to have so many things be repeated from years’ past. I’ve never had that before. I’ve maybe had a topic or two within a unit, but this is the first year I’ve taught a class for the second time (Algebra I) and even that has had quite a few differences from last year when it was our first year of the transition. I feel myself looking at my saved Evernote notes and in the MTBOS Search Engine for activities or strategies and then finding the ones I was already using! That’s not to say there are no new and improved lessons being done. I’ve done a lot more Desmos and VNPS and Stand and Talk activities along with replacing some practice with Delta Math. But it’s a good feeling to know that I can be working on refining instead of coming up with something new.

I also feel that because of this not having to come up with new stuff semester, I’ve just felt like more of a teacher that has her stuff together. I’m not as worried about what I’m teaching tomorrow and I can worry more about the pedagogy and/or relationships. That leads me to how I’m doing in my goals for the year. I’ve already checked in on my goals here and here. This will be my last check-in.

  • Stand and Talks – Amazing. I have been doing a few each unit. Want to do more. I want to get more organized with how I save them, too. That’s a long-term project.
  • Collection of Work/Knowledge – so this goal shifted a little, but I’ve loved the outcome. So far this semester I’ve given my learners five minutes in the day before an assessment to write on a notecard everything they know for that assessment. Some learners take it less seriously than others, but most are really into it and making pretty great notecards. I always phrase it as something like “Write what you want your future self to know before they go into final exams.” We’ve been keeping these in our class folders and I can’t wait to see how much it helps by the end of the semester. Maybe I’ll even write a blog post about it!
  • Birthdays – Might be one of my favorite additions to this year. I now will have some catching up to do when we get back to school, but it’ll be ok.
  • Instagram – I still haven’t gotten learners to take the pictures. Maybe that will have to be next year’s goal. But I realized that a whole lot of the pictures I was taking were learners on a Chromebook (sometimes just one Chromebook in a group, sometimes 1-1) and the other pictures were just the “pretty” moments where something ultra-cool was going on. So I started to post more of just regular old class (like working on a worksheet or taking notes or at the VNPS) and captioning it with what they’re working on and I’ve gotten the same amount of interactions. So I’m gonna keep doing that.
  • Vocabulary – nope. Move this goal to next year.
  • Family Connections – still strong. I’ve been a lot more proactive this semester about contacting home and have picked up my phone more. I feel like I have more time to do this because I’ve been more organized and have less new stuff to plan.
  • Language – another goal for next year.
  • #VNPS – it’s been much better this semester. I did a fun one in geometry right before break where I showed them four right triangles with a variable for a side or angle. As a group they could only use each solving method once and answers had to be as exact as possible: Pythagorean Theorem, Special Right Triangles, Right Triangle Trig, and Inverse Right Triangle Trig. At first, it was rough to make those decisions but as they were able to look around the room at how other groups solved maybe the same one with another method they were doing great at it. Then I gave them word problems with the same rules and I was so smiley because they were groaning so much but then did fine. I need to do better at having one marker per group.

 

  • Delta Math – still great
  • Puzzles – I kinda left those 3D printed polyhedra pieces out the whole quarter on accident. There are a handful of broken pieces, but that has led to new possibilities of what to build! I intended to change out these for tiling turtles earlier, but they just never got boring so I never thought to change it. Turtles are coming 4th quarter, though.
  • Not Working Harder Than Students – better than it ever has been before, I think
  • Not Blaming – still check
  • Office Hours – still check
  • Google Level 2 – still not yet – pushed to summer
  • More Percussion –  need to do more
  • More #MTBoS –  yes! I feel like I’ve been more involved just because of #MTBoS20 but also I’ve been catching up on reading blogs I’ve saved in my Feedly more and have been posting about some of the things I’m reading on Twitter.
  • Cooking –  these next couple of weeks will really test this. Grocery stores around me have been out of lots of things like chicken and pasta for a while. It’s weird. But I just made orange juice out of a box of fundraiser “clementines” that were pretty terrible in texture but fine in flavor. The juice is so so so good! Took me back to when I’d make orange juice from my Bubbie’s oranges she grew when we were with them in Florida but on a much smaller scale. Also tried some DIY citrus cleaner from the peels and we’ll see how that turns out in a couple of weeks.

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  • #FitBoS – determined to make it happen this month since I’ll have some extra free time. March WILL be the month I meet my goal (and continue to meet it).

Wow that was a lot but I honestly feel good after writing it all. This is shaping up to be a great teaching year for me and I’m just hoping I get to finish it.

Cette pandémie vraiment force nous à refaire nos modes de vie.

Quadrilateral Instagram Project #MTBoS2020

Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described herehttps://docs.google.com/document/d/1bD-zYHpkP0RR7shkovBtOEB4c_rlSuiUKtJCQtid9QY/edit You should join! And if you’re just here to read, then I hope you get something out of it!

I’m still excited about this project my Geometry learners did a couple weeks ago. I had an extra day I could afford to try something in my quadrilateral unit and after some searching on the MTBoS Search Engine, I came across this Quadrilateral Instagram Project from Julia. https://designatedderiver.com/2016/01/27/instagrams-for-quadrilaterals-letmetellyouaboutmyshape/. I also found versions from Tina here and Jonathan here.

I pretty much followed their lead and left a lot of it open. All I gave was a short description and a rubric.

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Files:

You can see some examples in the posts below. 90% of the class got A’s – this was a project they were excited to do, they had to do a self-assessment before so that really they wouldn’t turn it in without having a 100%, and I was pretty lax on the requirements. I gave one class period to work and then it was due a week later (all of my assignments are given at least a week before the due date if graded). Not all of them were works of art, but the learners had fun and were proud of it. I even had some that created a real Instagram account. Also, because of all of you out there in the #MTBoS, there were a bunch of examples that my learners were able to see with a quick google search!

I debated not even giving them back and putting them up somewhere in my room, but then I know not everyone wants their work up on display. So I returned them to my learners and asked if they would provide donations to put on display. I got 10 or so that I put up actually in the hallway outside my classroom. With my VNPS, I didn’t leave much wall space that’s close enough to eye level that people could actually read.

Comment votres étudiants montrent leur créativité (et leur amour pour les réseaux sociaux)?

Goal Check-In #MTBoS2020

I’m so excited that Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bD-zYHpkP0RR7shkovBtOEB4c_rlSuiUKtJCQtid9QY/edit I’ve been a little more active on my blog this year than some past years, but I am still someone that needs that little push of motivation to make things really happen. This blogging challenge is just 12 posts in a year, so I think I can manage. You should join! And if you’re just here to read, then I hope you get something out of it!

It’s been (a little over) half a school year and I only really revisited my 2019-2020 goals once back in the first midquarter. Should have been checking in more for sure. But better late than never, right? Here it is:

  • Stand and Talks – still going well. I definitely fell off the wagon a bit at the end of last semester but I’m back on it and have done two in these first two weeks of the new semester. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should! Check out more info here from Sara: https://www.saravanderwerf.com/stand-talks-the-best-thing-i-ever-did-to-get-students-talking-to-one-another/
  • Collection of Work – It may be kind of an abandoned goal at this point, but I think I’m going to adjust it a bit and have my learners make basically a study sheet that they keep in their class folders (where all of their assessments and Grade Trackers live in my classroom). I saw it in an old post from Pam here https://pamjwilson.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/bonus-session-teacher-hacks-tmc17/. I think I can make it work really well. All my classes have their first quiz on Wednesday so I think I’m going to have them make the start of it tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes.
  • Birthdays – still going strong. I realized, though, that since I only have about 2/3 of the same learners in 2nd semester because of schedule changes, I have a bunch that I never got to. But it’s actually been nice because I still usually see them in the hallway and it’s fun to just check in with them and see how their new classes are treating them.
  • Instagram – still great. This quarter I WILL have learners start taking the pics. I had a bit of a trust issue last semester where a lot of my puzzles and some other things were going missing and never got returned. I hope that in this semester that doesn’t happen and I can let the learners have a little bit of the control.
  • Vocabulary – Hmm I really need to do more with this. Need to project vocab more while groups are working.
  • Family Connections – I’m happy with what I’ve done. I had all my classes take a Pre-Class survey at the beginning of the semester and had FormMule send an email home when they submitted that was structured a lot like what I found here in Kristen’s post: http://kfouss.blogspot.com/2017/06/studentparent-survey.html. So every guardian with an email address got contacted in the first week. Calling is still hard, but after we have this first assessment I’ll have more to call about.
  • Language – Need to focus on this more.
  • #VNPS – still can do more, but it’s been better than in previous years.
  • Delta Math – going strong and I even wrote a blog post about it a couple months ago!
  • Puzzles – I kind of redesigned a little bit of my room because I had to get rid of my mini-fridge (which was also being used as a shelf for lots of other stuff) and that allowed me to have a better “play table” aka extra desk in a somewhat awkward spot. But I was able to have one of my friends 3D print some puzzle pieces for polyhedra and it’s been so fun watching them create.

 

  • Not working Harder Than Students – The beginning of the semester always feels like a whirlwind of never having enough time to get everything done, but it’s started to settle down and I think it’s going to still be good.
  • Not Blaming – still check
  • Office Hours – still check
  • Google Level 2 – still not yet, but I did retake the Level 1 test and passed just in time for me to give a presentation at a district PD so I could still say I was Level 1 Certified (like I mean it happened the night before 🙂 ) I think Level 2 will be more of a summer project.
  • More Percussion –  I haven’t played that much in the last few months. I should do more.
  • More #MTBoS –  I’m doing it with #MTBoS2020!!!
  • Cooking –  I acquired a bunch of bananas from a band event and froze them and asked my classes and the #MTBoS and other people for recipes to use them and I ended up with a bunch of different banana bread recipes that are all good, banana bread brownies that are amazing and I brought to my family’s holiday dinner, banana pudding (don’t do it with frozen bananas if you want it to look appetizing), and banana smoothies. All so good and I feel so accomplished. Also have a new favorite where I cook up chicken, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and some sort of broth with a bunch of herbs and whatever else needs to be used and put it over rice. It’s not from a recipe, but it makes me feel so adult and reminds me of how my mom cooks. I haven’t tried too many new recipes for the Instant Pot or any of my other cooking tools since the summer, though. That should change!
  • #FitBoS – Didn’t make it for 2019. I’m kind of sad about it, but I worked out 108 hours over the year. In 2018 I only did 72 hours, in 2017 I did 92 hours, and in 2016 (the only year I met my goal) I did 100 hours. So I still had the best year yet for working out, and I want to keep doing better. So I set my new 2020 goal for 120 hours and I am gonna meet this one! Who’s with me? Read about it from Meg and sign up here: http://www.megcraig.org/2020/01/02/2020-fitbos-challenge/

A new thing for this semester is I’m teaching a night class at the local community college! It’s Intermediate Algebra, and we meet twice a week for an hour and forty minutes. We’ve only met twice so far and I had a few kinks to work out in the online grading system (Canvas syncing with MyMathLab was not going super well at first), but everything seems to be good now and I have 10 great learners. The class is a pre-requisite course for the first for-credit math class, so that’s why I’m allowed to teach it without a Masters in Math. I’m so excited for this opportunity and just have to say it’s so refreshing to be in a class with these adult learners. I think it’s a mix of growing up and being more mature with also having a clear goal in mind (and also paying for the class) that just makes more learning seem to actually happen. It does mean I have less free time to get to some of my goals, but I am adjusting.

Alright so I am setting another reminder in Google Keep to check in with goals at the end of the quarter and this time I’m actually going to do it. I hope. But at the very least, I’ll have a few more #MTBoS2020 posts before then.

Quelquefois, on doit recevoir les rappels. C’est normal, n’est-ce pas?

Mathematician Alphabet (Not Just Dead White Dudes)

First, if you haven’t heard of the Mathematician Project aka Not Just Dead White Dudes from Annie, read this here: https://arbitrarilyclose.com/2016/08/21/the-mathematicians-project-mathematicians-are-not-just-white-dudes/

I think this project is super important and I’ve tried to incorporate it in a number of ways. I haven’t gotten the chance to actually have my learners do the project, but I’ve done it where I present mathematicians for a warm up, where I had a bulletin board of it, and where I used them as table/group labels after seeing them from Pam on her blog here: https://pamjwilson.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/table-labels/

But then I moved to a new room with desks instead of tables and got the idea from the teacher who had been in the room before to have colored tape on the feet of chairs to label the groups. So I put the 8 table labels (A-H) up on my wall to display since I wasn’t using them anymore. But I kept thinking that I wanted to complete the rest of the alphabet someday. Today was the day.

I made cards to print and put up that have a different mathematician that are Not Just Dead White Dudes. I know I’m not citing my sources correctly, but the information was all pretty much gathered from The Not Just Dead White Dudes Bank, Wikipedia, or the MacTutor History of Mathematics site.

It’s very possible I have a typo even though I tried to quadruple check everything. Let me know if you see anything weird or if there’s more you think I should do. It was pure luck that I ended up with an even number of men and women.

*Edit 1/2/20 – Thank you Amie @nomad_penguin for finding a typo on C. The file has been re-uploaded. Please let me know if you all find any more!

Feel free to use/edit them for yourself!

Google Presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1huFNdJ2fWbvrNWONwDj1A5pn_l0icLM9LQCDZXl0ENY/copy?usp=sharing

PDF: Mathematician Alphabet (Not Just Dead White Dudes)

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C’est important que nos étudiants voient les mathematiciens comme eux.

New Student Checklist

My class rosters change very frequently all year.

(This lasted 4 days)

Because of this, I realized I needed a list of things I need to do every time I get a new learner ASAP. When I lose a student, the getting-rid-of process can really be done whenever it comes up so I don’t worry about it as much. The faster I can make a new learner feel welcome, though, the better.

I used to have a sticky note of all the things I’d have to add a new student to that I taped behind my desk and it was fine, but I decided to make it a bit more official.

New Student ChecklistFeel free to make a copy for yourself here:

Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LmHPbGQ8uZZCUdHkfhxVrMzsqoEyRJiCgIGI_EaP3Ek/copy?usp=sharing

PDF: New Student Checklist

J’espère que mes nouveaux étudiants sentent qu’ils sont les bienvenus.

Delta Math Homework

I’ve gone back and forth about how I should do homework. I don’t really fully completely think that homework should be given. I’ve done a few years without giving regular homework and I don’t think my learners’ understanding was any lower than when I did give regular homework. But then also I teach mostly freshmen and the biggest complaint I hear from both previous learners and their new teachers is that they are not ready for the homework load. I’m not at a place right now to try to change those teachers’ minds about homework, so I had to shift my thinking. If I’m going to truly prepare my freshmen for the years ahead, I need to prepare them to work outside of class.

Enter: Delta Math. I’ve been using Delta Math (DM) this year with both of my classes, but more consistently with Algebra I because it has more topics for that than Geometry. So I have one DM assignment going per unit. They typically have a few weeks to complete each assignment, and I have a bunch of topics in them. Our first unit after our two-week October break didn’t have a DM assignment, so that’s why you see such a big date gap right now.

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I’ve learned from my tries at DM last year to keep the number of problems required low. You want to do more with your learners, but for me, 1-3 is usually enough to show they know the topic but doesn’t burn them out on it. If it’s something where there are multiple levels of difficulty, I’ll maybe have 1 easy, 2 medium, and 1 harder problem. I also allow them to have multiple attempts (2-3 depending on the type of problem) and do include a penalty (0.25-0.5 off) for incorrect answers. I went back and forth on the penalty thing, but after seeing them do their first assignment and how they just wanted to click submit after barely doing any thinking on a problem, the penalty decision was confirmed. It slows them down. Even though they get multiple attempts, they really think about it more when they know that they can’t get more wrong or else they’ll have to do it more.

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I also have a due date schedule because after they get out of the Freshman Academy, most teachers do not allow late work at all. However, they are coming from their junior highs where they were able to retake and resubmit everything until the end of the year. So this transitions them a bit easier. I do forgive lateness for certain circumstances, like chronic absences and 504/IEP directives.

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Not all of my learners have access to the internet at home, but that hasn’t been much of an issue. I always give at least a few days’ worth of class time to complete DM and also, I make a paper copy by screenshotting double the amount of required problems for each section. I have only had to actually print that for a few learners at the beginning of the year who didn’t know to use their time more wisely.

These are worth 10 points each in the grade book and I give them their percentage out of 10. So if they did 85% they would get an 8.5 in the grade book. I use the Problem Logs in the Student Data dropdown frequently to see if I should update someone’s score on an old assignment, but also remind learners frequently that they need to tell me when they have updated an assignment. I also post this as an assignment on Google Classroom, so sometimes their way of telling me is to just resubmit the assignment so I get a notification.

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Overall, I really like using DM for homework. At first, I did get some push back because it wasn’t what they were used to and they got a lot wrong at first because they didn’t know how to structure their answers. For example, they didn’t know on the solving equations ones that you just needed the number and not x= with it. So I learned then to demo how to answer each question where it wasn’t obvious. It’s made my learners much better at attending to precision, too. And, sure, there are some that still get 0’s on their DM just like you’d get some that got 0’s on a paper assignment. And some guardians do not get why they’re not seeing a textbook out to do the homework. But then when I talk to their guardian about how they can do this anywhere they have access to the internet, including on their phone, they get on my side pretty quick.

My learners have really come around to it, too. At first, there was some anxiety around it. Like “If I press Submit and I get it wrong then I’ll have to do more!!!” But now it’s more like “Ok I worked through it and then I got it wrong the first time and then looked at how DM got the right answer and saw my mistake and now I got it right!” Well, I’m sure they think that, at least. But they look forward to DM days and feel like it’s helping them learn, and I agree. I can even say – hey you only did 1/3 problems over this on DM and then you got the question wrong on your quiz, soooo what are we going to do for the next quiz?

Another thing I added this quarter on our first DM assignment two topics at the end that are review from first quarter. I should have done that from the beginning. I need to do more spiraling in general. But even the learners expressed that it was nice to go back to that to try to keep it fresh.

I want to express a big THANK YOU to Zach Korzyk @MrDeltaMath who makes this amazing resource!

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What do you do for your homework/Delta Math to make it good for your learners?

J’aime que mes étudiants voient leur connaissance avec Delta Math.

Rigid Transformation Unit and Superhero Transformation Project

I’ll admit, I was really nervous about teaching Transformations in Honors Geometry. It was a topic I didn’t remember learning myself and I had never taught it before. I luckily had the #MTBoS and especially Michele Torres (@Teachmathtorr).

Lots of people suggested using things like patty paper and Miras to help learn the different transformations. Unfortunately, I do not have access to those and I’m trying to not buy a lot of things this year for my room, so I hope to one day be able to use those. Instead, I did a lot more Desmos than I ever thought I would! If you haven’t seen her Geometry Desmos Activity document yet, be prepared to blow your mind here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1m82reYFkQZtjnptTWo0_G0k6Kmbc7jjo-OFjT3l0wMY/edit?usp=drive_open&ouid=104053001916447058622

I also loved the advice to focus on points transforming instead of the entire shape – it really helped my students who were having trouble visualizing the transformations.

We started with a Polygraph. I’ve noticed that in an honors class, I don’t get too many that get it wrong when they’re trying to find the graph. Instead, they just use a ton of questions. I challenged them to try to use the least amount of questions.

We also started off with some Des-Patterns.

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After learning all the transformations, I think my learners would agree that this Multiple Transformations Check Desmos activity made the biggest impact. I had them work in pairs and had them do the worksheet first and then check with Desmos. This was really a turning point for the class. A lot that thought they didn’t know were able to confirm that they really did, and it was also much more apparent to them if a transformation was off than when they did it on paper. My struggle sometimes with having students check in Desmos is that when I try to project the summary, the names have to get so small as I zoom out so I can fit everyone. Sometimes I forget that working in pairs not only helps them learn and have awesome math conversations but also just makes them have fewer names to look for.

I somehow ended up with three free days before Fall Break and they had already taken a quiz over transformations. I wasn’t ready to start a new unit (congruent triangles) right before a two-week break. I had remembered Mandi Tolen’s Global Math Department Presentation and thought to look for anything she shared. She did not let me down.

I modified her assignment a bit. Here’s what I did:

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This was a blast for the learners to work on and for me to grade. My biggest advice is to encourage them to make a plan for their story first. A lot of them spent the entire first day just making their superhero and other images. Even though that really brings the project to a higher level, it also made them have to work on it outside of class and that was never my intention. Also, I learned that demonstrating some of the shape and arrange and grouping tools to the whole class at once isn’t good enough. Instead, make an expert at each group and have them be the ones to ask after that. Also, next year I would like to add a peer review component. I hope that will save some of the ones that decided to wait until the last minute or not do it at all. Any advice on what to do when you’re giving 3 days and nothing is getting done by one or two students? I don’t want to be too hover-y, but I also had my smiles turn to frowns a few times when I had to give a couple learners 3/35…

This twitter thread below has a bunch of pictures from my projects. These weren’t all 100%s and I only included one page of the comics, but I just loved how they were able to show their understanding in a cool creative way that most of them are really proud of.

La créativité de mes élèves m’impressionne!