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The Short Hand on the Clock (On Common Core State Testing)

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 6 Comments

It happens every year, no matter whose tests I proctor. My heart beats faster. Pencil points blunt and break, and I swoop in with a quick replacement. Students look up at me from their papers and I make a signal to look back at their papers instead. A few students take naps and I look at them with equal parts disappointment and envy, assuming they’d triple check their answers before …

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Cultural Competence Means Professional Competence [Edutopia]

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 3 Comments

My latest piece at Edutopia explores cultural competence: The act of listening is perhaps the most underrated skill there is in education. As teachers, we are often asked to “do” a lot more than necessary: memorize standards, plan lessons, prepare for various assessments, call homes, provide a warm environment for our students (and visitors), attend faculty meetings with varying effectiveness and relevance, grade mounds of papers, and take what little …

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The Other Half of Teachers

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 5 Comments

After the bell sounded today, as with every day, I like to sit at my desk for 10-20 minutes to decompress. I exhale a few times, staring at the scuffed white board filled with numbers and figures hastily put together from students’ responses. I don’t capture dialogue well, but all the math is there, and I most certainly planned for the academics, so I’m satisfied with that piece. I could …

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Week 13: Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See

Jose Vilson Jose, Mr. Vilson 8 Comments

This morning, I woke up in a haze. After attending the Teachers for Social Justice curriculum fair in Chicago this weekend, I felt empowered to move students in a direction that continues to empower them. On Monday, my mind felt less optimistic about my day at school, in dealing with both students and adults. After school, and for the last 100 days, I knew that there would be no indictment, …

Be Kind ... - Plato

Week 8: Bleeding Openly [Am I A Bad Teacher?]

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 10 Comments

“I can’t. I just can’t.” After class on Thursday, I started to strongly reconsider why I wanted to do this project I’m having my students do. The premise is for them to understand operations with scientific notation by modeling the solar system. This went off mostly without a hitch last year and I got some of the most brilliant pieces I’d ever seen from students that the school usually expects …

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When Teachers and Students Fight

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 3 Comments

The latest viral video comes out of Baltimore, MD, where the Orioles weren’t the ones swinging. This video, a shaky mess that needs watching and re-watching to fully get what’s happening, starts with a student pacing back and forth while the teacher makes a phone call to someone, presumably a parent. The fight ensues when the student throws a binder to the teacher’s face, prompting the teacher to charge at …

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Week 4: All The Students [World Teachers Day]

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson Leave a Comment

On Friday, EduShyster visited my classroom, the last leg of her NYC tour. Anyone reads this blog knows I have a profound respect for her writing and her approach to talking about education, so much so that, when she asked if she could visit my classroom, I enthusiastically said “Yes!” Or something. Anyone who knows me gets that I believe in open classroom door policies (except during change of period), …

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Week 2: The Best Laid Lesson Plans

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson Leave a Comment

Last week, I found myself as restless as the first day of school. In fact, I got to school at 7:10am every day, when school usually starts at 8am. I racked my brain around what the next logical step is in my curriculum. Negative exponents are especially difficult if students don’t get a lot of practice with the concept, and if they can’t make a seamless connection between negative and …

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Week 1: I Belong Here (On Starting Exponents)

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 7 Comments

I’ve started my unit on exponents the same exact way for the last five years. I’d give my students the definition of exponent and base, and give them examples of how each of them work. From there, we’d see what happens as I made tables to show growth patterns. What happens as the exponent increases? What happens as the exponent decreases? What if the exponent is zero? Negative? What’s the …

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My Contribution To #FergusonSyllabus [Edutopia]

Jose Vilson Mr. Vilson 2 Comments

Hey everyone, I wrote up a resource on how to teach about and beyond the events of Ferguson, and included examples of how some teachers are already doing it. Please read and let me know what you think. 3. Bring it back to the individual. We don’t often get the chance to reflect about our misgivings or perceptions of each other. Especially in diverse communities (and I do mean diverse …