Algebra Snapshot

Before I go to bed, I want to quickly share a photo that I snapped during Algebra class today (and I’m going to brag a little because I might not get another chance). I tweeted this photo this afternoon but I have a lot more to say about it than 140 characters. I’m feeling proud of what I see after just one week of school.


The boy in the red shirt saw me take my phone out of the cabinet and prepare to take a picture. Other than him, the students were engaged in their work and didn’t notice that I was taking their picture. I think this can only happen in a “student centered” class. When you look through the photo, you see all heads tilted downward. The students are looking at their work! I could have given them a worksheet on classifying real numbers and they would have had the opportunity for just as much practice, but I wonder if all eyes would have been on a worksheet. Turning this into an activity where they physically move the numbered coins into the appropriate basket somehow makes it more engaging for them.

One girl is standing up. This photo was taken during 9th period. It makes me anxious when students wander around the classroom but I know that at the end of a school day, kids need to move! They sit, sit, sit all day long. I really want to have a classroom environment where students can move around and remain engaged. If you need to stand up – stand up. No one in the room is distracted by her because they are focused on their work. Could she have stood up if everyone was doing a worksheet? Would she have?

Behind the girl who is standing, my amazing para-professional is working to benchmark one of our students for his IEP goals. This can happen right in the middle of our class without any special attention being drawn to it since all students are working where they need to be. I love our special ed department and the way they work with our students.

On the far side of the room you see some students are working on the computer. This is a class where students can move at their own pace (to a certain extent). The students on the computer are those who finished the sorting activity last week and have moved on to independent practice.

You can’t see it but there is noise in this classroom. The students are talking to one another. Some are talking about what happened at lunch today – I recognize and admit that. Many are talking about which basket their coin belongs in. This is a class where conversation is encouraged. When students ask us questions, we answer with a question: “What did your group think when you asked them?”

I felt good about class when I looked at this picture after school. I saw some things that I might not have seen otherwise. Taking a quick snapshot now and then might be a good reflection tool. Give it a try!

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