Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What to do, what to do...

My Math 1 kids had a test today over solving equations.  I had thought that we did enough practice and I was hopeful that they would at least earn 3's (out of 5) but most kids had 0s-1s-2s.  I thought I had done a better job than years past of communicating the importance of showing work and I had too many kids just give answers.  After working through many problems and stressing the importance of showing proper steps (adding 6 to both sides of the equation for example), I had several kids "pick" an answer and show that it works by substitution.  Their overall scores "look" better because of SBG, but I don't feel their understanding is better.

I know I got through to some kids - some of them did well and some were close in their understanding and I feel they will earn those 5s with a little more practice.  As I am sitting here tonight reflecting and trying to figure out my next move with them, I have at least come to the conclusion that I want to do a whole class reassessment.  Truly, there are only 1 or 2 kids (out of 20ish) who earned mostly 5s and 1 or 2 4s, so this is as good of an opportunity as any to show them what reassessment (normally on their own) can do for them.  As much as I want them to do the reassessments because they didn't get it and want to truly learn it, if the grade motivates them to do the reassess, I guess I'll take that.

So I am sitting here tonight with these questions floating around my head.  If my dear readers would indulge me with their thoughts, I would be very appreciative.
**Obviously I am going to hand back their tests first and spend some time going back over it.  Suggestions on how to best handle this?  I don't want to be doing all the work - they need to do some practice and corrections on their own, but I don't feel I have enough kids to serve as "experts" on the 6 concepts to send small groups to other students to get help.
**They still need to do some practice - their understanding isn't close.  How do you gauge how much more practice to give before reassessing?  At this point, I am thinking they'll have some practice between tomorrow and Thursday (although my 3rd period is going to be cut short on Thursday) and reassess Friday. 
**In the past, I would probably give another review sheet for them to practice.  With these classes, although games can be a good diversion and fun for them, it can end up being a discipline problem and some still don't participate.  I tried the Sweeney equation dance with them Friday on the first day of review to help reinforce the skills.  My 3rd period didn't participate as well as they could have (although part of that could have been me in learning the whole thing) and my 5th period mostly participated (except for a couple of freshmen boys...) and I thought had learned it.  At least they had fun... What other kinds of review that engage the students can I use?

And now the final thought...
**@kaminskiterry replied to my initial query on Twitter and shared how he does reassessments in class rather than outside of class.    He designates a day to students and they have to let him know what skills they are reassessing.  They do the reassessments in class during a work period in class when other students are working on a worksheet or homework or the like (at least that's how I understood it).  I really don't want to take up class time, however, if it will get kids to do the reassessments when they wouldn't do it otherwise, it may be worth doing.  Thoughts?

Thanks again for everyone's thoughts - I so appreciate it!