Welcome to Ms. Waugh's Class Blog

Welcome students, parents, and colleagues. Thank you for visiting my blog. This blog I have designed to introduce myself and inform you about what is going on in my classes. Currently, I teach ELD inclusion for grades 6.

Let's get ready to learn!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

21st Century Classrooms... 5 years later

Back in 2011, while pursuing my Master degree, I wrote a blog post titled The 21st Century Classroom” I recently stumbled upon a new article titled, “10 Signs You Really Are a 21st Century Teacher (And Might Not Know It)” which got me thinking about what being a 21st Century teacher means in 2016 and I figured I should craft update.
While we remain in the 21st century, what I thought was 21st century teaching in 2011, five years later looks somewhat different. In my previous post, I reference using my one laptop in my class with my students, connected to my smartboard and sometimes incorporating my iPad and iPod touch. I reference Bloom’s taxonomy and Gardner’s multiple intelligences and project-based learning. It’s interesting how education evolves and fads arise and fade, and what we think is going to change the world is discredited in future research studies.
Back in the 1990’s, I guess under the ideology of 20th century learning, Bill Clinton thought a $2 billion program of putting a computer in every classroom and a data link in every school would be the “great equalizer.” Supposedly this one computer would revolutionize the way children learn.
And in the past 20 years, my how plans have changed. Now the great equalizer is supposedly a 1 to 1 ratio of computer to student, at a budget of a minimum of $1 million dollars per district, or as much as $1 billion per district, like Los Angeles USD’s iPad program. How do districts afford these 21st century aspirations? Through budget cuts, often in the form of teacher lay-offs and I wonder if that’s really what 21st century learning is all about.
Numerous studies have shown that the most important factor affecting student learning is the teacher. Even so much as to say learning gains realized by students during a year in the classroom of an effective teacher were sustained over later years and were compounded by additional years with effective teachers.
So sorry, Bill Clinton, just having a computer in the classroom is not going to cut it. Neither is having a computer for every student a solution. Students can have unlimited access to unlimited resources, but if they are not taught how to use them, and how to use them correctly, those resources are nothing but knick-knacks.
When I wrote my original post in April of 2011, chromebooks hadn’t even been invented yet. Now kindergarteners have their own e-mail addresses and a laundry list of logins to IXL and Raz Kids and youtube. But with all this unlimited access, comes a dangerous level of unlimited power and that is where the 21st century learning comes in. These students in front of us are technology natives. They’ve had facebook accounts and hashtags since before they were even born. Teaching students how to use technology is no longer our job. It is our job as teachers to teach them to use it well.
This is where fushionyearbooks.com got it right: 21st century teachers use technology as a tool for suspending sterotypes, teaching empathy, fostering collaboration, advancing adaptivity and celebrating creativitiy. With the advent of technology, the world is at our fingertips and Google is our daily professor. But instant information gratification is as addicting as slot machines and what we need to teach is the responsibility of knowledge. What students really need to know is how to research, how to collaborate, how to present their findings, how to manage a dynamic team. Those are the skills the job market is looking for. Thomas L. Friedman wrote for the New York Times in 2004, right at the beginning of the 21st Century these telling words whose sentiment has only become more salient since then, "When I was growing up, my parents used to say to me: ''Finish your dinner -- people in China are starving.'' I, by contrast, find myself wanting to say to my daughters: ''Finish your homework -- people in China and India are starving for your job.''
The 21st century will continue to present to us new and innovative ways to share knowledge, demonstrate knowledge and acquire knowledge, and it is up to us as effective teachers to channel these opportunities and turn them into teachable moments for our students.

So bring on the chromebooks and the iPads and the Socratic Seminars, just don’t lose sight of the fact that the most valuable items in the classroom are the human beings, teaching and learning from each other.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Working with Els in the Classroom

For the slideshow presentation, please click here: Working with ELs in the Classroom

This past spring, my principal asked me to compose a short PD presentation to share with our teachers about how to support ELs in the classroom. This is by no means a comprehensive lesson, but more of a booster shot for teachers who have taken Retell (or comparable course-work about teaching ELs) but are struggling in the "here and now." Taking a 3-credit course on teaching ELs is completely necessary, but sometimes it leaves mainstream educators reeling, wondering what to do first when they have an actual EL in front of them. This slideshow is a good place to start! It also could be extremely helpful as teachers are looking over their rosters for the new fall semester.

Program Capacity Week June 2016 Pre and Post Reflections

Program Capacity Week June 2016 Pre and Post Reflections
Mae Waugh Barrios

Tuesday, June 14th
Book Fair with our favorite publishers & Equipment Refresher (document camera, LCD, etc)
Browse textbooks and get your questions answered by the experts! Get re-acquainted with the document camera and LCD projector.

Pre-Session Brainstorm Tuesday June 14th, 2016

As you probably know, I don’t really like books. As a teacher I often find them hindering. Hopefully someday I will write my own slew of textbooks that are up to my expectations, but right now my problem is that there is no perfect book. Usually, after six years of teaching, I feel like I am smarter and more competent at writing my own lessons and finding my own materials than anything I find in a text book. Especially for math. This makes finding a book unimaginably difficult. And it means I find myself searching for a textbook at the end of every single semester. In fact, I have used a new book for every semester I’ve ever taught at FAESL, and this fall will be my 9th semester. Wow! I just realized that…
To answer these questions more specifically, when I am looking for a textbook, I want to see something bright and vibrant and interesting. Since I teach HSE 1, many of my students are emerging readings, but I want to make sure their books don’t look childish. I know they are reading at a second or a third-grade level, but I don’t want them to feel demoralized for being at this stage in their educational journey. Additionally, I look for a book that has many features: readings, comprehension questions, vocabulary development, open-response questions and realistic, reasonable content matter. Last semester, I used a set of Laubach Reading for phonics as my anchor texts and while I really liked the way it wove together text and vocabulary and grammar. However, it was completely fictitious narrative and had no basis in content matter, like social studies or science. Also, a set of four books was way too many for my students to navigate.
For the upcoming semester, I’d like to find something with contextualized readings in the content for my ELA class and for math I’d like to find a text with more practice problems, more procedural support and more focused to my strand, the Real and Complex number system. I actually just learned from Janice on Monday night that we must provide our students with a book due to grant funding, so hopefully I can find something that catches my eye tonight!

Post-Session Reflection Wednesday June 15th, 2016
Book Fair with our Favorite Publisher

This evening it just happened to work out that I got a one-on-one session with the representative from McGraw Hill publishing. Nobody else from HSE was able to attend the workshop tonight, so I represented our HSE program and got a chance to look at all of the options from this publisher in particular. Unfortunately for me, all the material was at too high of a level for my class in particular, but it would be perfect for Tony and Molly. The representative was very kind and receptive and shared all of her display models with us (and I think it will ultimately prove to be lucrative for her because those texts look great and I think Tony and Molly will order them!)
I specifically was looking for texts we can use for our new math model, which is differentiated by strand and I think their small math booklets would really work for our classes. I’d really like us to get their entire set of these booklets because we could use them in every class and then we could have more streamlined math instruction because we will all be using similar-looking texts.
For ELA, the McGraw Hill representative shared with me lots of options, but none of which I loved. Her options for my level were more based on vocabulary development and while that is important, I want a textbook with longer text excerpts and more of a focus on comprehension skills and content reading. She did share with me two model texts that are science content-based, but as soon as I opened them my response was, “Where are the pictures?” I did consider using these texts and supplementing them with youtube videos of experiments or images on each topic, but I think the text is a little too dense for my level.
Ultimately for my ELA class next year, I would like to use the skinny science texts “Go Green” and “Our Living Planet” from Pro Lingua Associates. I think these will be perfect because it incorporates page-long text readings, vocabulary development and reading comprehension questions, all about science topics. Then I can supplement the text with newspaper articles or current events regarding these science topics, in order to differentiate for lexile level and interest.
Although I already integrate a lot of technology in my class, by projecting my lessons and getting my students using chromebooks for various activities, I’ve never used a document camera or projected my iPad in my HSE classes. So after Pat and June’s presentation, I might try out both of those. The document camera would actually really be helpful for projecting student work to collaborate with corrections and edits. This way we can work on editing and revising skills, and I could use it to project my new textbooks and annotate the text or fill in the blanks on the board.

Wednesday, June 15th
Spring Technology Update with Bob
We’ll cover a range of topics related to taking better advantage of laptops, tablets, and smartphones with our classes, including:
•Breakout sessions on using ChromeBooks in class, and teaching with your iPad
•New/improved favorite websites and apps
•Google Forms
•Leveraging students’ own mobile devices

Post-Session Reflection Wednesday June 15th, 2016
Spring Technology Update with Bob

Any time I think I just about know everything about technology, Bob always gives me a plethora of new ideas and options and link. And this program capacity week, he did not disappoint! Thank you, Bob, for putting all your great ideas in one place with links! (http://eslbob.weebly.com/) Some of these ideas I have heard about before and used in my classroom, like Kahoot, Pinterest, Readtheory and google, but now I have so many other ways in which to incorproate technology into my HSE classroom this fall.
The first thing I would like to try is a student self-assessment that gives them an approximate count of how many words they know in English. I’m thinking it would be a good way to start the semester with Testyourvocab.com and do it at the end of the semester, too. It is very subjective because the students don’t actually have to define the words, they just have to click if they know the definitions, but I think it would be effective enough to give them an approximate lexion tally that would really boost their morale and self-confidence. It is also an additional way to track student growth.
Another resource I’d like to incorporate in the next semester is to utilize TedEd. There is a feature called Ted Lessons, where you can create your own lessons around a youtube video, or use one of the ones they already have posted. I’ve used this for my middle school ELD class before, but it would be great in my HSE class because I already incorporate a lot of youtube videos for building background knowledge or for visual support for my HSE English learners.
Dreamreader.net also looks great because it has leveled academic English readings, coupled with multiple choice questions. While this is very similar to readtheory.org, the nice thing about this website is it has an audio component that reads the text aloud to the students. This would be good to try out with students who need practice with phonics or pronunciation. Also, it has a variety of social studies topics for the text selections, which would be a good supplement to my textbook for next semester which will focus on the sciences.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Welcome to a New School Year 2015-2016!

Welcome to Language Arts 6 ELD!
In this class, your child will learn how to read, write, speak and listen in English. In every class, we practice phonics, read stories, speak aloud and participate. Students should speak in English as much as they can, and if they need help with translations, we have Portuguese word-to-word dictionaries and we have Portuguese Native Language tutor, Ms. Raquel Cezar.
This is our textbook:

Each week your child will have a homework packet that includes reading and writing about the topic we are studying. All homework packets are due on Friday.

How you can help your child at home:
·         Read at home in English or Portuguese
·         Watch TV or movies in English
·         Listen to a book on CD in English (available for free at the Framingham Public Library)
·         Visit the Framingham Public Library together to check out books
·         Write letters to each other every day, week, month…
·         Practice speaking English together!
If you have any questions, please contact Mae Waugh Barrios

Welcome to Social Studies for ELD 1-4!
In this class, your child will learn how to read, write, speak and listen in English through the Social Studies contexts. In every class, we improve our English skills through reading about US and World History and Geography. This year, we will focus on academic conversation skills and writing about text using evidence. Students are expected to speak in English during class time, and if they need help with translations, we have Portuguese word-to-word dictionaries and we have Portuguese Native Language tutor, Ms. Raquel Cezar.

What up Socrates?
Each unit, we will have a Socratic Seminar, where the students will work in groups to hold a discussions-based conversation around an essential question. This will require multiple readings of the same text, identification of evidence, analysis of evidence and then a writing composition.

Language Arts Laboratory 6!

In this class, your child will learn how to read, write, speak and listen in English, often using an individualized online program. In every class, we improve our English reading comprehension skills using the MCI Comprehension program. This includes a textbook for reading, writing and word study, and an online program where students work at their own pace.

This is our textbook

This is the website:

Username: Your child’s first name and then last name (no spaces)
Password: cougar

Using the website above, students can practice at home. If they work at home, they can do “Academy of Reading” or “Wordly Wise 3000”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What do Potato Chips and Line Dances have to do with Integers?

C. Mae Waugh Barrios
Final Course Reflection Assignment

Building Math Knowledge for Teaching Struggling Learners: Integer Standards (CCSS)

December 19, 2014
If you had asked me before June 2014 about chips, I would have replied, “Potato or tortilla?” Likewise, I thought a number line was something you did while square dancing. Just kidding. But I really had no idea of their significance in integer instruction and conceptual knowledge.
Before this course, all I knew about integers were the rules. I knew a negative times a negative equals a positive. I knew a negative plus a negative equals a negative. I knew to subtract integers, you just add the opposite. In fact, when I was in seventh grade, I remember our integer assignment was to write a narrative story with integers as the characters, in order to demonstrate that we knew the rules. I also remember getting a poor grade on the assignment, because my sixth-grade brain couldn’t keep the rules straight, because they really held no meaning for me.
I had heard about the chip model before our summer workshop, and even knew that yellow meant positive and red meant negative, but I had never used it before and I had never seen it in action. Completing operations using the chips and chip mats was completely new to me, but struggling through the process this summer was an enriching experience. What really struck me the most was how chips are able to help represent why the integer rules exist. This helped me make meaning of the rules I had half-wittedly memorized so many years ago.
I had used number lines before, but only to build foundation for integer value and relationship, to show that negatives were less than zero. I’d never used it for any operations. Actually the first time I saw the vector model for addition was when I was co-teaching a math class and we were doing practice MCAS questions. With my numeracy knowledge as an adult (and math teacher) I was able to figure out what the diagram meant, but I had never been explicitly taught the meaning behind it. As we went over it at the October workshop, I felt conflicted over the procedure of always starting the vectors at zero. I thought it was an additional step that complicated the process and might only confuse my students. But when I actually taught the vector model to my students, I found it was an essential step for students to differentiate between addition and subtraction models on the number line. 
However, the activity that resonated most with me over the entire workshop was the integer clothesline. While it doesn’t specifically relate to integer operations, having the numeracy understanding of the placement and relationship among integers and rational numbers is an integral part to building conceptual understanding for students. I used the integer clothesline for all of my middle school math ELD students and it was impactful in so many ways. First, it was kinesthetic and got even my most active students engaged and involved. Second, it was a form of pre-assessment, so that I was able to determine my students’ background knowledge and experience with integers, because they come from schools from all over the world, with different instructional styles and pacing. And finally, it was an activity that provided immediate feedback to the students, not only me but also my students’ peers. If a student began putting an integer in the wrong place, his classmates were the ones to help him revise his placement. 
These three integer models helped me connect the rules and concepts I had learned in isolation to a foundation of conceptual knowledge and they gave me resources so that I could help my students do the same. 
Obviously in order to successfully compute integer operations, students need number sense and operational fluency. They need to know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide multi-digit whole and partial numbers and they need to know what these operations actually mean. As I began teaching my students about multiplying integers, I asked them what 3x4 “meant” and all my students answered, “12.” They had memorized math facts, which is definitely important for computational fluency, but they were missing the conceptual foundations. If they didn’t know 3x4 meant 3 groups of 4, how could they model 3x4 using the chips? How could they model it using a number line? Additionally, using models helps students build the conceptual knowledge that subtraction is really addition of negative numbers. I told the students subtraction actually doesn’t exist and they couldn’t believe it! I challenged them to give me a subtraction problem that I couldn’t change into an addition problem, and of course they were unable to stump me. 
Having an understanding of integers and integer operations is an important foundation as the students move toward algebra and then on to calculus. 
Yet none of the models were a perfect method solitarily and the students struggled with difficulties and misconceptions with each one. All models have their limitations and their benefits. It was difficult for the students to transition from adding using the vector model to subtracting using the vector model. While the vector model helped to denote the directionality of each operation and integer, manipulating the vectors from one operation to the next was so confusing for the students. They asked me why the process was so different and it was hard to get them to understand that subtraction is really finding the distance between two integers on the number line and addition was combining their values. Without this differentiation, the sums and differences were neither accurate nor understood. 
The Walking the Number Line activity proved to help the students to model operations with vectors on the number line. The Walking the Number Line activity has the students assume the role of integer and they move in the negative and positive direction, adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers. It helps the student build the understanding of the directionality of the negative and positive numbers. These skills then transferred to students’ paper number line representations.
Additionally, I learned to make sure students understand one operation model completely, before moving on to the next operation. That way students feel competent and confident with addition, for example, before moving on to subtraction, so they are less likely to confuse the two models. 

Using models to build conceptual knowledge helps the students to build meaning for the reason why the mathematical rules work. Rules are there for convenience, not to take the place of actual understanding and knowledge. 

Project Summary and Reflection: Paper-Pencil Probes with Whole Class

I. Administer the Probe   

  1. Which probe did you use?   Why? 
In the project planner, I wrote about administering Probe 1 and 2. I have since administered and used almost every probe in the tool box, as I created my own unit for my ELL class about integers, using all the materials from our course this summer. I found all the probes were really beneficial, an not just for targeting my instruction. This was the first time most of my students have been asked to explain their reasoning or thinking. They REALLY struggled with the difference between giving the correct answer and providing an explanation. When I began teaching them about multiplication of integers, I started by just having them explain what 3x4 MEANT and they all said “12!” It took quite a while for the students to realize I wasn’t looking for the answer, I was looking for the thinking.
All this being said, I would like to use this time to talk about Probes 6 and 7 because those were the ones whose analysis I used to target the most instruction during this unit.

2.  When in your sequence of instruction did you give the probe to students? 
I spent a week in November working on addition and subtraction of integers with the students. I started with using the chip model to represent integers and then moved into chip model for addition, followed by the chip model for subtraction. Then I introduced the vector model on the number line. Going through instruction, I found the students grasped the conceptual operations of integers much more while using the chips than the number line. I administered probe 6 and 7 on Friday of the week I taught both addition and subtraction in order to see how much the students had retained. 

II. Process the Results 

1. Sort the work samples to look for class patterns of understandings and difficulties.

Class Chart for Probe 4. Integer Addition & Subtraction: Will the result be positive or negative?

2.  How did you sort the student work samples?  What categories did you use?   Why?
First I ordered the papers by the number of problems students got right. Then I looked
at just the students who missed 0 or 1 problem. Those ones I analyzed to see what
method they had used (number line or chip) and then I looked to see if they had used
the method correctly. Then I looked at the students who missed between 6 and 8
questions. Those ones I sorted also by method and then correct reasoning or unclear

3. What did the work samples show about students’ understandings?  What kinds of successful approaches did they use? Were any approaches missing that you would like students to use?  
It seemed as though the students who used the chip method had the best understanding and the most success. Unfortunately, a few students used the chip method. I think if more had used that method, more students would have done better. I have the probes before teaching the students any “rules” so it was measuring specifically conceptual understanding.

4. What kinds of difficulties and misconceptions did students have?  What stood out for you?
After I gave the probes, I regretted giving them on the same day and I regretted teaching them addition, then subtraction, then giving both probes. Upon reflection, I think students would have demonstrated better knowledge if I had given probe 6 after teaching the concept of addition and if I had given probe 7 after teaching the concept of subtraction. I think the biggest difficulty students had was with the number line, because for addition, they needed to put two vectors one after the other, depending on the addends. For subtraction, they draw two vectors from zero, each the distance of the integers they are subtracting. They just didn’t have the fluency to be able to manipulate the number line and vectors and moving back and forth from negative to positive direction. 

5. What might be the reasons for these difficulties/misconceptions?  Consider issues that can be addressed through instruction.
As I said above, I think administering the probes at the end of the week really didn't set the students up for success. I wanted to see which model they would choose and if they were really able to add and subtract integers after a week of instruction, but they proved to be just confused. Additionally, I think they chose the number line model because it was what I had taught them most recently, not necessarily was the one they knew the best. 

6. What questions did the findings raise for you about your students’ understandings and difficulties/misconceptions?  What do you want to follow-up on?
This made me questions whether my students actually knew what addition of integers meant. I personally find the most meaning with the number line, but the difference between using it for addition and using it for subtraction really confused my students. 

III. Target Instruction to address identified needs   

Targeting Instruction Planner, Part C
1. Review probe findings (part B) and identify 1-2 math learning needs to target.  
What will you target?  Why?

I would really like to target how to model addition and subtraction using vectors on the number line. The students inability to demonstrate competency on this on the probes concerns me regarding their conceptual understanding. Additionally, I told the students they could write their explanation with any model they want, and the fact that they chose to use the number line but 8/12 students used it incorrectly .
Learning needs to target:
#1. I can model addition of integers on a number line
#2. I can model subtraction of integers on a number line

2. What specific math concepts, models, & processes will you focus on to address these learning needs?  Consider math goals & sequence of instruction
I will focus instruction on the operations of addition and subtraction, using the number line to model equations. 

3. Possible Next Steps.  What will you do?  Check all that apply.

__A. Move to Next Lesson with adaptations
                _X_Create one version for whole class          
__Differentiate for groups of students

3.1 What are your reasons for this choice?
The students clearly demonstrated that they do not understand the directionality of integers and that difference means the distance between two integers on the number line and addition means one vector leads to the next. 

4. Brainstorm Specific Ways to Target Your Instruction 
What activities, models, and strategies would help address the identified needs?
Consider ways to:  make adaptations, differentiate, add new content, and/or revisit prior content.   
Before adding and subtracting integers, I never did the “walk the number line” activity and I think it would be a great lesson to build the conceptional knowledge and directionality within the students. It also is kinesthetic, so it will reach tactile learners. Making the students act out the movement of the integers on the number line themselves might help them be able to draw it.

5. Write a Lesson Plan that describes what you will do.  You can either make adaptations to a lesson (from your math program or another source) or create a new lesson.   
  • Lesson: Walking the Number Line, from our summer institute
IV. Implement the Lesson and Reflect on Instruction  (60 points)

1. Describe how you implemented your lesson.  What changes, if any, did you make from your original lesson plan for targeting instruction? 
At first, my students were as confused with the walking the number line game as I was this summer! Eventually after a few practice rounds, the students figured out the directionality piece and began helping each other. The students loved the role of spinner, of course, but the recorder was where the students really began to understand integer equations. The students became quite competitive and really got into the game. It also helped reinforce that the larger the negative number, the farther away from zero it is.

2. How helpful was the targeted instruction for your students?  
a) Circle your rating.

1             2 3 (4)         5
Not Helpful                                       Helpful Very Helpful

b) Give reasons for your rating.  In what ways was the instruction helpful or not helpful for targeting the identified needs of your students?  Provide sample student work or responses to support your explanation.  
I found the students really participated and interacted when we work working with the chip models. It must have been the tactile component. Therefore the number line vector model was difficult to grasp. Walking the number line was interactive and tactile, so that the students became the integers and moved along the number line themselves. Adding and subtracting opposites are dense concepts that can be difficult for students with little to no numeracy to really internalize. This lesson helped the students

3. What might you do differently if you use the strategies/activities again?  Why? 
I would definitely revise the student handouts and make them more friendly for ELD 1-2 students. The students struggled with the sentences, even on the “Walking the Number Line Reference Card” the English is extensive. Instead of giving it all as a hand-out, next time I might just explain the game to the students themselves and have them act them out and figure it out as they go along, which they ended up doing anyway.

V.  Overall Reflection on Project   
  1. What are 2-3 things that stood out for you in the process of carrying out this project: administering a probe, processing results, and planning & teaching targeted instruction? 
Completing the probes was probably the first time most of my students have ever been asked to explain their thinking, especially in English and with diagrams. I used them in many ways—as pre-assessments, post-assessments, formative assessments and extra credit. At the beginning of the unit, I photocopied every single one, and the ones I didn’t administer, the students actually enjoyed doing as extra credit. After assessments, early finishers could do unused probes for extra practice. They would complete them and bring them to be and I would score them immediately, for instant feedback, letting students know not only if their answers were correct, but also if their explanation demonstrated conceptual knowledge. 
Administering probes as a form of formative assessment was so helpful to guiding my instruction. They were quick to grade and even when I didn’t go through the complete process as I did for this one, looking over my students’ shoulders as they took the probes, I was able to see where their deficits were. 
Although the students balked at first, taking the probes also challenged them in constructive ways. The motto of my class is, “Growing is hard and that’s okay.” These probes were an excellent opportunity for students to struggle with the material and give me a ton of data.

2. What challenges, if any, did you face in carrying out the project?  How did you address them? 
Through the project and my integers unit, I utilized almost all the resources and strategies I learned at the workshop. I have not felt as successful or had my students feel as successful as we did when I was creating and teaching this unit and the lessons myself. For the beginning of the school year, I was trying to follow the grade-level content and pacing guides and books to no avail. But the way in which these materials were sequenced really helped my students succeed. 
Unfortunately, I did have to spend a lot of time scaffolding the language aspects, because while the workshop was geared toward struggling learners, the needs of ELLs impact learning in different ways. I had to rewrite a lot of the worksheets to have less English and explanation, in favor of more problems and investigation.
Additionally, I got to the end of the unit I found I had worked so much on my students’ conceptual knowledge, they had little actual fluency for solving mixed integer operations. I ended up having to supplement the last week of instruction by creating a review packet that is much more practice-based.

3. What are two suggestions that you would give to future course participants on how to use probes with students, analyze probe findings, and/or target instruction?

In the future, I would tell course participants to not be afraid or overwhelmed of something new. In this workshop, I learned an entirely different way of interpreting and computing integers than I learned in school. I never worked with chips and never drew a vector on a number line. Sometimes I felt like I was learning right along with my students. However, having the conceptual knowledge really aids comprehension, especially because rules can be forgotten, but knowledge is forever.

Additionally, all the probes can be overwhelming, because they can feel like just more work for the teacher to do—more papers to grade. However, sometimes I found myself not even grading them, just glancing over them to see whether students “got it” or don’t. If it was a small group of “don’t,” I’d circle to them during class. If there were a lot of “don’t”s that meant a mini-lesson was necessary. The probes actually saved me time because they told me exactly where my students were at, so I didn’t send precious lesson time teaching them what they already knew; instead I could focus on exactly where their deficits were.