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9th - 12th Grade - Newcomer ELL Algebra - Graphing Quadratics

Clip 12/13: Graphing Quadratics Lesson - Part 12


Cabana gathers the class, thanks them for their good work, and describes the work to be done at home overnight in preparation for the next day's class.

Teacher Commentary

For some teachers it's really important to debrief a lesson that day, and I almost never do that. I find it more interesting and useful to debrief to launch the following day's lesson. Partly because I never had a chance to think about how but also because I think that transition makes for a useful launch for the second day's lesson.

This one is an unusual homework assignment for me because it relates directly to what they've done. I had a different homework handout for them that I chose not to give them, because I thought it would be more effective for the next day's conversation if they did that.

Usually, I would give out homework that evolves over time; homework needs to spiral content. It needs to be one of the ways that I try to remove my timeline, but not superimpose my timeline for learning on every single kid. The front of the homework assignment is usually content that relates to this unit, either review or preview, and that doesn't depend on them having understood everything on that day's lesson. It's usually closely related to what we're working on in one form or another. But the bulk tends to be content from the previous units so that it gives routine chances to keep it fresh, and things that they haven't thought of in a while, or that they haven't fully grasped before they have more opportunities to ask.

At the beginning of the year we do homework checks several times a week where facilitators will have to lead the conversation. If there are problems that none of them can answer or they are not sure about, they have to pick one and ask that the class go over it. Then some other student will come up and present, and each one of the students will come and present. That is to give them a chance to see that all sorts of kids in the class have things that they did well on the homework and seem to have understood.

It's one of the first ways of demystifying the fact that they might have questions, but also since I don't go over the homework they have to come up and present. It gives me a chance to recognize confidence and smart thinking in kids that I wouldn't otherwise have if I were presenting a problem myself. It takes a little bit more time, but it's worth it in terms of defining what it means to be smart in the classroom.

My favorite is when I can convince the class that the person that should go up to present a problem is a person who isn't sure how to do it because then they get to learn with the help of the entire class. I have to navigate: am I going to lead the conversation for that kid? How vulnerable are they? Is there enough safety in the class that they can handle it all themselves?

If there's something on the homework that I know kids are likely to have questions about, I'll craft a warm-up that's similar or closely related so that everyone gets a chance to try it fresh but this time with their team. Some kids will present again and we can complete it.

The kids know that if there is something they don't understand, they can come and ask me, and I'd rather modify the warm-up or get to them at some point in class or let them know that they don't need to worry about not understanding.