Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The State of Affairs in My Head

This blog post is mostly for me to get out of my head where I'm at with things.  As always, please feel free to comment or catch me on Twitter (@Mrs_LHenry) to discuss.  In fact, it's really helpful for me if you do leave comments.

First up - Grading

I am committed to doing SBG this year.  At the moment, I am leaning towards doing a system very similar to Kate Nowak's where you teach 3 concepts, then assess.  I want to assess twice because I feel that it would give me a clearer picture of whether or not the student understands the concept (it would give me two snapshots rather than just one).  I am most comfortable with a scale out of 5 and I think I would do similar to what she does, adding the 2 together for ultimately a score out of 10 to put in the school's gradebook. 

I would need to put the following limits on reassessing for my own sanity:
  • The student would need to demonstrate some sort of remediaation/practice before reassessing.  Either the student would need to get additional help from me or an outside tutor or successfully practice additional problems on his or her own.  I saw somewhere (not that I can remember where at the moment), that someone who was getting outside help had to have the tutor sign off and state what was done to help that student AND that person had to be at least one class ahead of the student being tutored.  I thought that made great sense.
  • No tutoring and reassessing in the same session.  This is partly due to time consstraints for me (something about having 2 kids) and partly because I want students to have time to reflect and internalize the new information they have learned.
  • I am considering setting up a Google form for scheduling reassessments and/or an appointment book.  This is also for my sanity to have time to make up the reassessment question(s).  With having two kids, I think I will also have to set aside specific days after school if a student wishes to come in then.
  • I think I will also put together index cards with reassessment questions (another idea I read here) and label them so that they can be reused for other students.  I would have to keep track of which questions a student attempted, but I think that would be worth it in the end.
  • Due to the constraints in my gradebook at school, I would have to set a deadline for reassessments during the last week of the grading period.  Any concepts that I started during the last week or so of the grading period would also carry over to the new grading period.  Strictly a logistical issue here.

Homework and Other Classroom Issues

Because I am going to do SBG, I am not going to grade homework.  I think I will put together a sheet per unit that has listed the concepts for the student that they will be working on (this will be their tracking sheet also) and the suggested practice problems for the unit.  I think I would like to keep them to 10-15 problems and I will make use of the odds since all of the texts that I use have the answers to the odds in the back of the book.  If I choose to use the evens, there are graphs involved and they aren't given, and/or I have worksheets, I will provide answers to my students before they practice the problems so they can check to see how they are doing.  I don't think I am going to title it homework, I think I may just title it practice - because that is truly what it should be.  Not sure what I am going to do about keeping track of if students really did the practice problems - suggestions?

As I get better with this SBG, I may also put together additional practice problems sets by concepts that include the answerss so that as students remediate, they have that information readily available to them.  (I just had that thought - will have to think about that a little more.)

Since I will be using a SMARTBoard this year, I will post class notes on my website daily.  I am also conemplating having a daily warm up problem.  I really liked what another teacher did with the OGT problems (check here - third paragraph) and I want to keep track in a spreadsheet so I have an idea of how they are doing (and be able to compare it to how they end up doing on the test), but I'm not sure what to do to make sure they are motivated to do it daily.  My lower level stduents in particular seem to not want to do any additional work they don't have to.  Maybe make it some sort of a competition for who has the msot points at the end of a set period?  Maybe put my two lower level classes together in competition with each other - whoever has the best average at the end of 3 weeks gets candy or donuts or something?  I could do the same with my Algebra 2 classes.  Any other thoughts?  I could use some help here...

Note Writing
The last thing I think want to take on this year is the note writing that Grace Chen talked about in her recent blog post.  I think this could be very helpful and motivating to my freshmen.  The freshmen I will have in my lower level math class this year I had as seventh graders.  Let's just say that I didn't have the greatest experience with them and there were a lot of discipline isuues with them.  Some of that may be due to being seventh graders (and my inexperience with dealing with them), some of that may be due to who they are.  Regardless, I don't want a repeat of that year.  Historically for me, the class they're in has been the toughest for me discipline wise and I almost always end up dreading those classes.  I want to change that.  So I think I will try the notes with them first.  I may also try the notes in my Algebra 2 classes (the non-advanced classes) but maybe not on as full of a scale as the freshmen Math 1 classes.  We'll see.  I'm still thinking through this one.

Wrapping Up...
I hope I am not biting off too much with all this.  As I have said before, I am not happy with how things have gone in my classroom the last several years.  It is time to make changes.  I think these changes are do-able for me and I am hopeful that this will be a much better school year for me than the last several.  I know it will be a lot of work, but I think it will be worth it all in the end.

Please, please, please leave comments or catch me in twitter.  I am sure that it is not perfect, but at this moment in time, I think it's workable for me.


MizT said...

I <3 the notecard idea!!! I'm not sure how to organize and track it, but love it!

I don't think you are biting off too much - I think it's definitely manageable. Great job on getting the ideas out on paper - that helped me a lot! :)

Lisa said...

@MizT - thanks for the affirmation that I am on the right track. I appreciate it!

I think I am going to add to the reassessment requirements that the student had to have attempted the practice problems for a given concept in the first place in order to be able to reassess. (see here from @mctownsley: I think that may give the not grading homework more "teeth" and provide some motivation for students to practice ahead of time.

Matt Townsley said...

A few thoughts...what is your rationale for adding up the two assessment scores and making it out of ten? If Suzy bombs the first one, but aces the second one, shouldn't the gradebook reflect Suzy's current level of understanding?

Your thoughts on tutoring and reassessing are well-developed. This was a source of frustration for me the first time around and will hopefully allow you to articulate to students the opportunities they have and how they can take advantage of them (so that you can keep your sanity, too!)

You asked about tracking HW/practice. Have you thought about having students turning it in with questions they still have on it (even after seeing the correct answers)? They could also traffic light the entire assignment, specific problems or sections of the depending on their perceived level of understanding.

You are right...your system isn't perfect. Neither was mine after the first or second time around. I don't think you are biting off too much. You've got a nice start - tweak it as you go. You've surrounded yourself with a knowledgeable group of teachers who are sure to support you along the way. Keep us posted on your progress!

Lisa said...

I am not totally sure on why I chose adding the 2 together - it is something I have been debating back and forth between (either adding 2 together or just having 1 score). I do really like the idea of assessing twice. Part of me likes the idea of the total being out of 10 and part of me in my gut says that the two added together would give me an accurate grade when I have to put everything into the gradebook. I am a little concerned about everything coming out "acceptable" in the end. Not ever having done this, I'm not totally sure how it will all play out. If I assess twice and leave the score out of 5 in the grade book, what gets recorded? The most recent of the 2? The better of the 2? Regardless of how I do it, I am going to allow students to re-assess.

As far as the HW issue goes - if I have them turn it in, what do I do with it? Do I record what they have completed and hand it back the next day? Hold onto it? I still need to go back and read about the traffic light in your blog (it's actually on my to do for this weekend) - so that could be a possibility also.

Thanks so much for your feedback - I value it especially since you've been down this path before.

Anonymous said...

Great post, I am almost 100% in agreement with you