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Grand Rounds #1

Classroom Attended: Justin Coehn & Nathan Savigs Geometry in Construction


What strategies were used that you would like to incorporate into your instructional practice?
a. I was particularly fond of this teams Penalty Box method. As this class is half outdoor housing
construction and half math, the students are often eager for the hands-on hammer-and-nails
portion, but reluctant about the math. Due to this, the classroom has a strict policy that no one
may begin work on the house until their homework is completed and turned in. This is in
addition to the late penalty. I feel this strikes a balance of student responsibility. It maintains
focus on education while being corrective rather than punitive.

2. How was instruction differentiated to meet the needs of the learner?

a. Justin and Nathan are both far better than I at what I will call the light touch. I have a tendency
to come down on students hard, and Justin and Nathan both have a certain finesse in dealing
with unmotivated or unruly students. This is exceedingly valuable, as their verbal methods do
not create as much of an adversarial nature between teacher and pupil. Particularly in highneeds and struggling student environments such as this, this skill is essential. The construction
aspect is particularly where these two can show differentiated instruction. While some students
thrive in pairs and groups, others prefer to work alone. Some crave variety of goal opportunities
while yet others seek singular-task focus. Nathan and Justin create task lists for project
completion. These tasks require a variety of skills, but they allow students to choose their task.
Students naturally gravitate towards the type of tasks suited to their learning. When necessary,
assignments are handed out deliberately rather than by choice.
3. What does the teacher do to establish and maintain relationship with students?
a. Nathan uses humor to great effect, and he is a natural comic. As such, he is excellent at
defusing situations while still imparting a level of severity in tone with his requests. This leaves
these struggling students with a friendlier, more cooperative rather than dictatorial relationship
that I envy. Both teachers show investment in how their students doing outside of the
classroom, and are clearly focused on aiding students rather than telling students.
4. How does this program fit into the overall educational experience at PHS?
a. This is part of the schools initiative to address core subjects in non-core classroom
environments. Math is paired with technology education, to give students an up front, hands on
demonstration of how critical math is in building even the simplest of houses. Measurement
and design all play into supporting the mathematical concepts. Be it Trusses, supports, joists,
stud walls, there are a litany of mathematical concepts involved. It is also designed to aid
struggling students many have failed Geometry at least once before. This is an attempt to
rectify those error and help the students achieve success. It however is a struggle to fit in to the
schedule, as it requires a double-block or two classes consecutively. Additionally, it is a very
large expenditure on a per-pupil basis. This is the first year, and hopes are that grants can fund
the course in the future, as it does at Loveland High School.

5. How does this program benefit its students?

a. Students are given hands on activities that supplement their mathematical instruction.
Simultaneously, it provides pathways for students interested in construction, either as a
vocation or degree path. For students who struggle in remaining seated for an entire day, this
provides the ability at the high-school level to get frequent access to fresh air and activity,
requiring no small amount of physical activity. It also introduces students to the hardships of
those who work in construction. While safety is always a primary concern, students are
responsible for ALL elements of construction, from heavy lifting, working in the cold, working in
the heat, being strapped to rooflines, and managing scaffolding.
6. Any other notes/comments/or questions you have about this Grand Round?
a. Im astonished and encouraged by the productivity of the students. 60 students building an
entire house in 4 hours of work a day is no small feat for the 60 students who had NO exposure
to construction prior to this class. Id like to learn more about their achievement levels in the
math-focused section of this course as well.