We Need Your Help – Building Tetrahedron Pyramids to Build Community in ESL

Update: This project was fully funded on September 1, 2018. Thank you to all of our generous donors! 

Dear Readers: Please consider making a donation to my classroom via Donors Choose. Click here to donate and to get some very good karma! I need your help!

Support Our Tetrahedron Pyramid Project!

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 8.39.11 AM

Inspiration – a beautiful tetrahedron sculpture build by the Alexander Hamilton Middle School in Cleveland, Ohio

geometric-21

Flashback Friday – Tetrahedron Building with students in my classroom back in 2013.

My students need paper, markers, tape, and colored pencils to create and connect tetrahedron pyramids that show their identities. The books will supply background knowledge about pyramids and provide reference for symbols.

My Students

I teach middle school ESL to students new to the United States. My students are highly motivated to learn; they are eager to learn all they can about the English language, as having proficient academic English is a marker of success in their new American lives. A challenge I face is ensuring that each and every student feels connected to the classroom and school community, as my students are completely new to the United States and the English language. My students come from Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Somalia, Cape Verde, and Vietnam. They are typical middle school students – energetic, funny, and eager to figure out who they are. Our school is an urban 6-8 in a large city school system. It is a loving place where the staff does all they can for the students, and the students work hard to achieve success.

My Project

My students will draw symbols to represent their personal identities on the brightly colored paper, which they will fold to create tetrahedron pyramids. The small pyramids will then be connected to one another with tape to create a sculpture.

The pyramid sculpture that the students create will become a classroom display representing the power of community and teamwork that is necessary for all students to feel comfortable in a new country and language.

As I get new students throughout the year, each one will add a tetrahedron to the sculpture. Through building something as monumental as a pyramid, students will recognize that they are an important part of the classroom community.

The books about pyramids and symbols will serve to build background knowledge about pyramids and pyramid builders, and the book about symbols will provide ideas for drawing.

From ELLs to MELTs: Mr. Santana, Mr. Lara, Ms. Crispin, and Ms. Morrissett

I spent the past five weeks teaching the Catapult Learning Mathematics Level 6 program at my school‘s summer English Language Learners program. My students have transformed from ELLs to MELTs…Mathematics and English Language Teachers. As part of their final examination for the course, I required students to teach a problem to the class.  I have so much respect for my students because they are able to explain an abstract and complex cognitive task while speaking to an audience of their peers in a second language. In these videos, you cannot see the audience, but as an eyewitness, I can tell you that their listeners were fully engaged. So much so that they didn’t even notice when school ended fifteen minutes late, and neither did I.

Mr. Santana 

I have worked with Mr. Santana since he entered the 6th grade two years ago. Mr. Santana was able to engage the class through his sense of humor, eye contact, and clear demonstration. I love his emphasis on order – he even writes it on the board; isn’t that what mathematics is all about?

Mr. Lara

When I first met Mr. Lara at the beginning of the summer, he told me that he did not like me because I want to have everything my way and “that is just not always possible”.  I found his statement compelling and insightful. After all, it’s true that I cannot be in total control of other people, even my own students. He actually sounded just like me at his age. I told Mr. Lara that he did not need to like me, but he did need to meet my expectations in the classroom. Guess what? Despite some issues with tardiness, Mr. Lara turned out to be a wonderful student – smart and interesting. He made me a better teacher because his statement caused me to reflect on how I could let students have control of the classroom while maintaining a focus on the academics at hand. Mr. Lara’s video shows his capabilities with providing a clear and succinct explanation using academic English.

Ms. Crispin

Ms. Crispin began the last school year in a classroom for SIFE (Students with Interrupted Formal Education) students. Her video clearly demonstrates perseverance – although she was nervous and shy, reverting to informal English when her confidence waned – she got through this presentation. After the recording ended, she was so surprised when I told her that she had demonstrated the problem correctly. Ms. Crispin spent a lot of time studying the multiplication table this summer, and I am proud of how she integrated this knowledge into her presentation of division. Interesting Fact: Ms. Crispin loves anime, and she can speak some Japanese!

Ms. Morissett

Sometimes when I see myself teach, I feel really sorry for my students. I know how demanding I am, but I feel like I get great results sometimes. Ms. Morissett came into my class this summer with very limited skills, but she studied, studied, studied, and here she is teaching…after a pretty harsh warm-up. She is the very definition of persistence – even when she struggled and had some incorrect calculations, she was able to recover and self-correct. I absolutely love her determination. Watch out, world…here she comes!

In other news…

Rozzie Reads Poetry is TOMORROW! I will be reciting “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes Check out my ad: