Thursday, October 20, 2016

Starting Lesson Study and Update on Classes

This isn't going to be a very coherent post, but I need to get our current work into writing to better organize my thoughts. Here are the projects that are in progress right now:

• Lesson Study
• We've broken up our Upper School Math teachers into several groups of 3-4 teachers who teach across different grade levels. We considered doing a more traditional lesson study in which teachers plan a lesson centered around specific content, but decided to focus our efforts on developing our practice around a particular instructional routine that would be relevant across many grades and that would help us fine tune a specific pedagogical approach and learn from colleagues with whom we rarely get to work.
• Each group selected an instructional routine to plan out, teach, and refine this cycle. The routines selected were:
• Differentiation for students who learn at different paces
• Guided investigation
• Students giving feedback to each other

• In the next meeting, groups will plan a specific lesson around their instructional routine based on the first teacher who will be modeling it and decide on an observation time and what to look for when observing
• I'm super excited for this initiative to be gaining traction! We got some time to work on this while students were taking the PSAT or doing other activities, but I'm worried that if we don't get specific time off to work on this, people will become significantly less enthusiastic.

• Parent Math Night
• Our team is working on developing an informational night to help parents better understand our program, available resources, and philosophy. It's just in the planning stages, but I think will be really helpful in getting on the same page with families. Right now, whatever information they receive when applying is the extent of it.
• This needs to be thoughtful and informative for parents while also clearly conveying our position and getting buy-in and understanding of the program. If you have any resources or ideas to share, would love to have them.

• Math 1 is finishing our unit on Counting, Probability, and Sets, designing a game that has students analyzing probability and expected value to determine best strategy and fair outcomes. Next week, students will be playing each other's game and reflecting on what they've learned. This is a good opportunity to differentiate and identify gaps in understanding linear functions and algebraic manipulation skills as we prepare to move into a functions unit next.
• We're starting each unit with a "preview" assignment to look at prior knowledge and pre-requisite skills and concepts so that those students who have gaps can be identified and given extra support. Here is the preview assignment for linear functions.
• We're also starting the unit with another open investigation, this one more directly related to functions ("Cutting the Pie" task from IMP Year 1). I'm curious to see if students pursue a recursive or closed rule for this function. When we worked with Pascal's triangle patterns, students had a hard time moving from "each row is twice the previous row" to the rule f(x) = 2^(x-1).

• Math 2 is still in the depths of statistics, working through the Central Limit Theorem and connecting probability and the normal and binomial distributions. I'm realizing how much better I understand the material in my third year of teaching it and how much less formulaic and prescriptive my teaching is now that I have deeper content knowledge in this mathematical space. I have known that strong content knowledge is necessary, but it's amazing how much more depth is needed if you want students to explore and create and test their own theories, both in terms of creating those scenarios and in guiding the discussions that ensue. Maybe it's true then that teachers have to first progress through traditional pedagogy as they build up their depth of content knowledge before they can start to incorporate more problem-based or project-based learning. Would love some pushback on this though :)