Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 20 2014

Long Division in Pictures

Perhaps your students’ mathematical thinking rivals the discussion in this Abbott and Costello skit.  I always enjoy that one, and it’s funny in part because it speaks to our befuddlement with math algorithms.  I don’t remember learning long division so I can’t comment on how well I understood it at the time.  However, if I did understand the meaning behind the mechanics, it was lost over the years such that this Montessori lesson seemed exciting and new.  I’m guessing that textbooks include some good graphics and descriptions to conceptually illustrate the algorithm (since I’ve not taught such young grades in a traditional setting I’m not sure what form these take), but I also wanted to share this series of pictures from my training.
A note that in Montessori lessons units, tens, and hundreds are represented using green, blue, and red respectively.  Before this lesson children learn place value (including the colors)…

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May 29 2013

Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk

Helping students to internalize knowledge, skills, and mindsets (one of those tfa phrases that has stuck with me!) is a large part of what we do as teachers.  Of course, there’s also bringing out the positive already in the child, but that’s for another day.  What I’d like to celebrate today is those parents, coaches,…

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May 26 2013

Math Resources

My TFA placement was in middle school math (grades 7-8), and I continue to teach math and cultural subjects to middle grades students (grades 4-6).  I care deeply about making math meaningful, even when that outlook hasn’t meshed with school and student cultures.  Here are some of the resources I use and recommend: Free Online…

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May 26 2013

Enough to be dangerous

As TFA corps members, many of us entered teaching with a great passion for education and educational equity.  We cared about our kids and would attempt to do that which was in our “locus of control” to guide students to meeting big goals (and, let’s be honest, TFA led us to believe almost everything was…

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May 26 2013

Montessori for our children!

I’m currently engaged in a Montessori teacher training program and last summer wrote some notes on the theories and methods of Montessori education.  If this interests you, I would recommend reading some published books such as Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard, scheduling a classroom observation at a local Montessori (AMS…

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May 26 2013

Desperate for work

Several months ago I was invited to observe in a religious education program.  I had expressed interest based on the similarity of the program, called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and the Montessori method.  Despite different end goals, both programs feature “sensorially rich” experiences (learning through the senses and through movement) and an environment prepared…

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May 16 2013

Some highpoints on the journey

Administrators at my placement school routinely prescribed “engaging lessons” as a remedy for nearly every classroom problem.  Yet so many teachers, who were well-liked and regarded as effective, leaned toward accountability or control as the panacea for off-task behavior, disrespect, or low achievement.  Sadly, the children I taught were not accustomed to joy in learning,…

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Mar 22 2013

A vacation from a vocation?

It’s spring break!  I always enjoy the change of pace and chance to recharge come this time of year.  As in past years, I’ve spent large parts of my spring break on school-related items: attending a national conference, writing my summative reflection for administration (why is our school a better place because you are here?),…

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Feb 06 2013

New child, new world

Two years and some odd months later, I’m back!  Those were some long months of learning myself and the prevailing methods of the American education system, at least through the lens of my Atlanta middle school placement.  Much of my reflection was turned toward action-oriented classroom items, many of which were difficult to write about…the…

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Jul 25 2010

7 percent…

This morning I’m full of joy and anticipation as I look to the school year in just two weeks.  These past two weeks have been quite enjoyable and imperative to feeling settled for the school year.  I’ve moved into my apartment, organized my things, stocked the pantry shelves, and added some furniture (with help from…

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a Teach For America teacher's blog

Metro Atlanta
Middle School

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