Saturday, October 16, 2010

Seven Weeks In...

We are coming up on the end of the first nine weeks.  Hard to believe that this school year is almost one-quarter gone.  We are in the middle of conferences - I had conferences Thursday night and will have conferences again on Tuesday night.  Here are some of my insights from the last few weeks.

One of my parents who came in has a son in my Math 1 class, George (not his real name).  George has not passed a math class in three years.  He has ADHD and is a behavior problem and doesn't do much homework.  He is presently passing my class with a 73% (high D).  It was so good to be able to say to this parent that her son is capable of doing math and to be able to encourage her that if he would put forth more effort that he could do 'C' work.  This was the same child who earlier this week had such pride in his voice when he said he was getting a 73% and passing.  I am not one who is a huge self-esteem proponent, but it is keeping him somewhat engaged in the lessons and trying at the moment.  George's behavior still has a long way to go, but academically, he has made some gains.  Now, if we can just get his behavior to turn around...

As far SBG goes, it is going okay.  I do not have the number of reassessments that I would like, but I am trying to be patient.  I will be having the discussion with my students on Monday that we have two weeks left, and giving them a cutoff date for reassessements.  I am hoping that some students will be coming in for reassessments, especially after having tests this week.  I am also hoping that it won't be a huge barage either - but I am guessing I am not going to get as lucky with that.  I probably should have been more diligent in reminding students about reassessing and I am hoping that at least with my Algebra 2 students that whatever intervention plan I put together will get them moving in a better direction than they are currently.

Math 1 had their third test this week.  I can see that although not grading their homework is having a nice effect on their grades, they are not doing it as they should be.  We are starting to get into equation skills and I can tell that they didn't practice the last skill (using adding and subtracting to solve equations - one step) as they should have.  This may not seem like a big deal at the moment (I know they can come up with the answers most of the time) but as the solving equations skills get more difficult, this is going to be a problem.  I have not decided what I am going to do about it at this point, but I need to do something.  Thoughts from the blogosphere would be welcome - do I just do a daily chart and mark complete, partially complete, or not done or something else?

Algebra 2 had their second test this week also.  I knew after their quiz the week before that graphing using slope-intercept form had not sunk in and we did a quick review of it in class the day I handed their quizzes back.  We used the white boards, which they loved.  They, for the most part, did better on their test than they did on the quiz.  Definitely affirmed for me that I am going the right route with that (giving non-graded quizzes over 3-4 learning targets).  However, they did not do well on the last skill we did for this test - writing equations for lines parallel or perpendicular to a given line through a point.  The skill before that was writing the equation for the line given either two points or one point and a slope of the line.  They did okay with that, but not as well as I would have liked.  I think if I were further along in the SBG process, I would reteach it and give a retest on just those two skills (and I may still opt to do that).  But, since this is the beginning of SBG still for them and I want them to learn that they need to take some ownership for their learning, I don't think I am going to do that.  With the end of the nine weeks approaching, maybe they will be a little more motivated to at least try the reassessment process since they will be more grade-conscious.  It's not exactly the way I want it to start, but if that's what gets them going, I'll take it.

My Calculus group is most definitely the lowest ability wise I have ever had.  As we were discussing one-sided limits and talking about the limit being where the function intends to go, I had a student ask me "then what is the single point graphed above the circle?"  My answer was, of course, that it was the function value at that value of x, but I couldn't help thinking in the back of my mind "how could this student have gotten this far in math and not know that?"  It's going to be a long year with them.

All in all, I am pleased with how things are going.  I am really enjoying usiing the SMART Board and I am getting more anxious to get some more training so I can learn some more about the software.  I am also hoping to integrate the clickers sometime during the second nine weeks now that I am getting more comfortable with the SMART Board.  Generally, I am pleased with how SBG is going and I am getting closer to a rhythm with it.  I still wish I wasn't doing everything at once - the SBG and SMART Board, but the planning aspects are getting better.  I have been roped into our Race to the Top committee and between that and our building improvement committee, I have been out of the classroom too much.  Right now I am in a stretch of being out of the classroom 4 days out of 7, which sucks.  We have a RttT deadline of October 22nd so that will hopefully slow down here quickly.

I am grateful for all the support everyone has offered and the people who have answered my numerous questions.  Right now, I definitely feel it all has been worth it.  I just wish it wasn't all at once.

1 comment:

Geoff Schmit said...

I don't have answer for what to do about homework since I'm struggling with the same issue. However, other teachers have posted a number of insightful comments on that very topic.