Old Blog Posts…

Blog Entries about what’s going on in Polymath land… 

January 24th 2015

Holy Educon!  I am so excited and proud to say that Ms. Leimsider, Lissa, Taji and Lesley (three current sophomores and former algebra students) and myself presented at #Educon today on Mastery Based Learning!   It was so fun to share information about our school and my crazy mastery system with other teachers and school people who are interested in transforming how we collect, use and communicate student data in our classrooms!!

Mastery Tracking

Check out the slides of our presentation!

November 10th 2014 

Senior Projects starts on Wednesday!  I am so excited and nervous to start the actual class!   The senior have been working hard in the first quarter to complete their research and writing class and write the literature review about their topic.  Now we get to the fun part!  Students will be working individually to complete a large scale project related to their topic.   The project should take around 50-60 hours to complete and the senior will present their work at the end of the quarter in January.    The image below is  a flow chart that details the process:1- presentation_3

November 7th 2014



After learning about the different types of bridges, the history of the bridges of NYC, how bridges handle forces, the NYC Department of Transportation, designing bridges using the West Point Bridge Designer Software , creating blueprints, and building the bridges from just balsa wood and elmer’s glue, WE BROKE THEM!

Students tested the strength of their bridges by seeing how many algebra text books they would hold in a laundry basket that was attached to a testing block inside the bridge.   Congratulations to Luke and Phillipe, their bridge held over 25 lbs!!!

IMG_6248 IMG_6249  IMG_6252IMG_6250  IMG_6253 IMG_6255 IMG_6256 IMG_6257 IMG_6247

November 3rd 2014

The first quarter is almost over! It’s hard to believe that the second quarter will be starting next wednesday! It seems like I just met my new, freshmen advisory and that we just got started with the 2014-2015 school year!

So far this year, master tracking has been going very well!  Students are mastering algebraic topics and demonstrating what they know on assessments.   We keep track of each students mastery in the mastery tracker (pictured below).

Mastery Tracking

Each time a student demonstrates mastery on a topic they earn a Mastery Point  which are tracked in this excel document.  Kids can track their own mastery and compare it to their peers.  If a student does not earn full mastery they can go through a corrections process on their assessment and take an alternative retake assessment to show what they have learned.  This process gives students the opportunity to go back and truly master a topic that they didn’t quite get the first time around.   It also provides, me as a teacher, with a tremendous amount of data!   Instead of just seeing that student has a B or C in my class, or even what letter grade they earned on a test, I have detailed information about what specific topics, or skills students do understand and which topics they need to continue working on.

This process makes our end of the quarter review a very differentiated, individualized experience in my classroom.  Students are not sitting through an all class lecture about something that they already understand, in stead they are working on the topics that they have not fully mastered by watching review videos and working on practice sets with solution guides. And for those students who have earned full mastery on all topic and have identified that they feel confident with all topics, they are working on an enrichment task to push their thinking and help deepen their mathematical understanding of modeling.

October 28th, 2014

Sliceforms!!!Amazing final Stackforms!

Wow, the paper engineering class has created some amazing sliceforms and stackforms!    Sliceforms are 3d shapes that are created from cutting slices into paper and arranging the pieces perpendicularly.    Stackforms are created from cutting shapes from cardboard and stacking the pieces up to create a shape.  Students completed this Sliceform + Stackform Task and learned how to use Silhouette Software, 123D-Make and a Silhouette Cameo Paper cutter to create their projects.

KT and Dawshawn struggled to put their sliceform together!KT and Dawshawn completed their torus!  Kacey and Hannah created a stackform OK hand A zig zag torus! Lidsey and Conor get creative to make a stand for their stackform!  Tiani uses Funky Film to decorate her sliceform!  Anson and Tashira use Silhouete Software to create sliceforms!  Connor paints his Stackfrom Kirby (not jiggly puff)   The cutest little teddy ever!Cube within a Cube!Green Alien Hand!Slicforms!

October 15th, 2014

Last week we finished our second unit of Algebra, Solving Equations. The unit covered four major topics: Properties of Equations, Manipulating Equations, Modeling Equations, and Literal Equations. We also talked a bit about some of the pitfalls and common errors using cross multiplication. During this unit, each night students worked at their own pace through “The Gateway” – a progressively difficult set of equations to solve, where leveling up requires successful completion of the level before. Although a number of students made their way to problems on level 15 (the highest level) two students deserve special mention for completing level 15 successfully: Caden and Ariana.

In class we played The Fishy Game where in pairs students tried to solve their equations quickly and accurately enough to avoid being eaten by the shark who swam right on their tails:


Next up: Linear Functions Unit

Written by Ms. Barlow 

September 29th, 2014 

Let’s talk a little about PAPER ENGINEERING!  So far the class is going really well.  We are focusing on the ISTE  STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) standards and the kids are creating some really great work.


The kids worked on a three part Origami Task:  1. create three traditional origami items, 2. write out the instructions to make an item w/o photos, 3.  a Choice project: $dollar$ bill origami, the fold and cut problem or create a mathematical origami project.


IMG_5770 IMG_5771 IMG_5773

September 23, 2014

Hi everyone and welcome back to school! This year Ms. P has two student teachers: Ms. Shube and Ms. Barlow.

We just finished our first unit of Algebra, Beat the Basics. The unit covered five major topics: order of operations and signed numbers, fractions, rates, percents, and types of numbers. We also talked a bit about problem-solving strategies and solved some tricky problems. Can you determine how BIG Bigfoot is based on a cast of his foot?


We thought about what we can determine from a problem without actually solving it. Given a string of numbers multiplied together, can we decide whether the answer will be positive or negative without actually calculating the answer?

We ended with our first Unit Test, where students were able to demonstrate mastery of each of the topics. Special shout out to Monia Saleh for achieving 100% mastery on the first test! Remember, if you did not master everything, you can always achieve mastery through the Mastery Retakes process.

We’ve already gotten started on Unit 2: Solving Equations. For this unit, students will be working each night on the Solving Equations Gateway, where they will work up the ladder until they can solve all levels of equations!

-Written by Ms. Shube

September 10th, 2014

Bridge Building is up and running for the 2014-2015 school year!  The class started off with students thinking about what makes a strong bridge and how we can create bridges with gum drops and tooth picks.    Students created bridges and towers from this task.

Gum Drop Bridge Building Thomas and Brittney build a tower Eggy and Priya are very proud of their wonky tower Mamour's bridge looks like a house!

August 4th, 2014

One month down, one month to go, of summer that is.    I think most people who aren’t really involved in public education think of teachers getting three glorious months of summer vacation.  We don’t, really, we get two.  Which is certainly nothing to complain about!  But  with only one month left of summer vacation, I wish there was more!   I want to go on more adventures and do less work!  But nevertheless, I’m at the iSchool today, working and planning.

This summer I have 3 major projects to tackle, all of which have many little parts

1. Rewrite algebra map and adjust curriculum for the full implementation of the Common Core Algebra 1 standards and test prep.

2. Create a new class: Paper Engineering-  write the syllabys and curriculum, but mostly just make a lot of awesome paper projects!

3. Do some serious prep for Senior Projects stuff.

So far I’ve been mostly focusing on the second one- the most fun one! I’ve created a ton of awesome projects!  I’m in the middle of making a cool little monkey pop up book and I have more sliceforms than I have room for them.     Zach came into school a few weeks ago and hung some shelves for me in my classroom to display all the cool paper projects and the bridge models that the kids build last year:

photo (6)

About sarahpwallace

NYC iSchool MATH
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