This week was the week of Professional Developments (PDs) with my creation and delivery of Interactive Math That’s Meaningful (Horrible Title, I know) and 3 Powerful Math Routines. Each one has some amazing pieces to it that I am very proud of, and both have some areas I do not feel meet my goals. Time and reps will let me know if my feelings are accurate, and it will reveal where other holes are and where great stuff is as well. It’s pretty hectic this week, so this is just short note to remind me to breath.
I love when I come to a new understanding about something that I had previously known, which happened this week. We had the blessing of having a consultant come to our campuses from the county office of education to help us with some work we are doing. Part of the work is to implement Rich Task Routines (RTR) in mathematics to help our students become stronger math students.
What is a RTR you may be wondering?
An RTR is an activity designed to help us (teachers) be purposeful in our delivery of content to give students access to deeper and more challenging learning targets. The idea flows from the 5 Practices made famous by NCTM book by the same name. The work and intentionality of what we put into, seeing the whole cycle with students, and reflecting on the process made for a great day of learning. I can’t wait to continue this journey.
With the sounds of a sharp, repeating, and blaring noise the herds of young bodies began their almost zombie like motions to their assigned classrooms. Those who were new to the school, looked anxious, schedules out and a mixture of puzzled and nervous expressions. The contrast of the mindless shuffle to class to the anxious, confused, and fresh faced ones as they avoided being trampled by the zombie herds was almost laughable. Oh to be 12-years-old again….never mind, I’m good.
Although I was there to set up the Breakout EDU game, I couldn’t help to enjoy the nervous energy of the first day of school. The timeless roles of adolescents playing its course in all of their lives and the social aspects of this age are always fun to watch and enjoy. The end of the summer felt too soon, and the beginning of this school year didn’t feel like it was upon us….but ready or not, it was shown time.
The wonderful joy of having such a fantastic middle school staff is their openness to experience, and a few days before the start of school I was asked by two eighth grade math teachers to help facilitate a Breakout EDU game for the students’ first day. It was on!
Together we came up with a plan with the two boxes we had, one in each room, one class would do odd periods, the other class would hit even periods. I would jump back and forth, facilitate one, then let them facilitate the next. We worked out how the game was set up and what needed to be done so students wouldn’t inadvertently see how to break the game.
So here we are, first period of the first day of school, and it’s show time!
The magic that is Breakout EDU took hold, slow at first, as students had to break down that first day awkwardness. As different students found and placed together the various clues, the class wasn’t going to make it, so I asked the teacher and he wanted to make sure it was successful, so I aided in small ways, and they were able to do so.
(Update 2017-09-11: The students haven’t experienced the game since the first day, and six weeks into school they are begging their teacher for another game…so I guess they did love it)
Technically I started back to work last week, and this week we begin the welcoming party for the new teachers. I am very happy and excited about the start of another school year and it’s going to be amazing fun and learning. The introductions were fast, furious, and empowering. The highlight, for me, was the Breakout EDU session as the team of 42 new teachers and a collection of our district admin worked together to breakout with almost ten minutes remaining.
In particular, I enjoyed adding some of the new locks and creating new clues for the review of some of the learnings, some front loading of learning, and some connections to the district. It was an amazing bit of fun and I think we have some converts looking forward to our district training on this concept.