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Field Notes 4/1/13 and 4/3/13

dshu's picture

Monday, April 1, 2013


Today was the first day back to school after a week of spring break. Students have new seating assignments. One student asked Ms. Bard what they were learning today and she responded, “You will see!” The second bell did not ring yet, but many of the students already settled in and began on working on the do-now assignment. I noticed that many of the students finished before the five minute timer and that they just sat in their seats looking at the screen waiting for their classmates to finish. I think that those students should be working on other necessary material; perhaps, Ms. Bard could give them extra material to work on. She might give some extra problems from textbook to those students.

Some students did not know how to do a challenge problem, they just gave up. I was amazed at the speed of abandoning their effort to solve those problems. They would immediately call out “I don’t know” without even trying to attempt it or just sat there and waited to see if their other classmates will do it. On many of students’ whiteboards, they read, “IDK” or “I don’t know where to begin.”

The first period geometry class had a back-to-back the second period today. I was surprised that many of the students did not leave their seats or go out to walk around. So, during the second period, the students were a bit antsier. I felt challenged academically during this period because I had to think and learn along with her students. Ms. Bard was working on strategic competence. This isn’t what she usually does so it’s also new to her students. During strategic competence, Ms. Bard did an example with her students and showed them a step by step approach, and then completed the problem. Her students then worked on two more problems, of which the last one they had to do on their own. Here, many of her students were worried about not only they could not do the problem, but also they were to be graded on correctness rather than effort. Ms. Bard asked me to go help two girls, one of them commented to me how it wasn’t fair for Ms. Bard to grade them if they didn’t know how to do it and also they shouldn’t be graded on correctness. I understood their viewpoint and somewhat agreed with her. Usually, students learn a lesson and then have to complete an exit ticket to show it to Ms. Bard how well they have learned and done at that day. However, today’s strategic competence was working on solving mathematical problem skills rather than learning new mathematical knowledge.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Brian turned his head and asked a friend for help on a math problem. I walked next to him and helped him by showing and explaining where he could find the formula. He responded, “Thank you.” On Monday, Brain had no motivation to do any work. Was it because Monday or spring break just ended? Today was such a change of attitude.  His change of attitude and behavior made me think of students having their good and bad days and also what and how they could do to adjust to their first back to school day.

When Mark from the second period geometry class entered the classroom, Ms. Bard pointed to him and said, “Tuck your shirt in.” Was this formal dressing required at Excellent Chart School (ECS)? Or was it just Ms. Bard’s expectation?

During class, Ms. Bard told her students to sit up and look forward. The only student followed her instruction was the new student who joined with this class this semester. One of the popular students in this class, Tom, who sat in the back of the room, said in a soft voice, “I really hate this class, man.” I was sure if he meant the class overall in terms of what he was learning or his attitude towards Ms. Bard. His comment made me think about how her students perceived their teacher.

 “Tap, tap.” I felt a light touch of someone’s fingers on my shoulder. Samuel, a tall, buff African American male student in Ms. Bard’s 9th grade geometry class, walked over to me from his seat, which was located on the right side of the classroom whiteboard, as I stood in the back of classroom while facing the whiteboard. Not only was I startled by his tap, but also surprised by his act leaving his own seat and walking to me. As he stood next to me, he asked me how to find both lateral area and surface area of a cone and difference between them. I borrowed a squared-shaped whiteboard from a nearby student’s desk along with a dry erase marker, and then wrote him two different area equations on the whiteboard. “What is the difference between these two equations?” I asked Sam. After no response from him, I then asked him, “How are these two equations different?” I reminded him to think of the definitions of lateral area and surface area, and hoped he could remember how they were different.  I did it this way because I expected him to be able to apply his understanding of these formulas learned from the definitions presented at the ongoing whiteboard activities and his past homework. Later while all the students working on their whiteboard activities, Samuel stood up and asked Ms. Bard, “Can I call her over here?” “Nope”, Ms. Bard replied. After Ms. Bard turned her attention to other students in classroom, Samuel eagerly waved with his right hand asking for me to come over. While the rest of students were busy writing on their whiteboards to solve those lateral and surface area problems, I stood beside him. I did not feel intimidated, instead I felt honored and respected because there was a feeling of trust between Samuel and I. Although I am not a certified teacher yet, I was a teacher to him at that moment. He believed in me so he reached out to me for his math help. He respected me as his teacher.