My name is Aaron Kaswell, and I became a teacher in 2007 when I was selected to join the New York City Teaching Fellows after working for five years in the music business. Since then, I have been teaching middle school Mathematics at MS88 in Brooklyn while also becoming a Math for America Master Teacher Fellow. In 2011, my school was awarded a grant that brought the School of One blended learning model to MS88, and I began leading an amazing team of six colleagues through this highly collaborative model. School of One allows students to learn at their own pace in a totally redesigned, open classroom that can fit well over 100 students in different centers of the room. Every day, both the students and I are assigned new lessons in one of seven different learning modalities: virtual instruction/reinforcement, independent practice, small group/peer to peer collaboration, live investigation, and task projects. At the end of each day’s class, we use an exit slip to evaluate and regroup students based on their progress. I love using a blended model because I have the ability to differentiate and target instruction in ways I never could before. Both the students and I are more engaged than ever because of it.
This past summer I received a Fund for Teachers Fellowship to travel to Tokyo to apprentice with Tetsuya Miyamoto. Aside from being a master teacher, Miyamoto-sensei created the world-famous KenKen puzzles that I have been using in my classroom with tremendous success since I started teaching. I went to Tokyo to soak up as much wisdom as I could and share it – along with anything else interesting I come across – with you, the readers.