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!


Matt Townsley said...

Have you thought about building these ideas into your next assessment? I could see a scenario that looks something like this...

Tomorrow - go over a problem or two that seem like the easiest or at least the one that you think students have the best chance of understanding their mistakes on... Assign a few in-class problems; put kids in groups; walk the room to see where they're at; maybe do a think-pair-share or journal activity to get them to share their thoughts on their current misconceptions.

Over the next week or two: Re-visit the idea off and on. Continue soliciting evidence of their current level of understanding through one question prompts or actual problems.

On the next scheduled assessment: add in some of these problems and use the new score to replace the old in the grade book.

Not a perfect solution, but maybe a start?

Lisa said...

After getting nothing back last night from anyone and reflecting more on the way into work. I did go back through parts of the test with them. I worked through one of each concept off each version of the test and directed them to correct the rest of the problems they missed before class tomorrow. Several students today worked during the last 10-15 minutes rather well and I was able to get around and clear up a few big misconceptions.

In my fifth period, a couple of students really made strong efforts to ask some great questions to make sure they understood the process. I was really impressed with the effort they made and I am hoping the one student in particular who asked some really good clarifying questions continues to stay engaged in class.

Tomorrow, I put together a Row game (I think I orginally saw it from either @Fouss or @k8nowak) where the answers for both problems are the same. My 3rd period will be shortened by a Veteran's Day assembly. Fifth will be the full time. It will be a good activity (I hope) to engage them in review one more time.

I decided to force reassessments. Anyone who earned the 5 the first time doesn't have to reassess that topic. Any 4's, I left it up to them. 3 or below - they have to reaasess. I told them I was making them do it for two reasons - 1) These skills will resurface the rest of the year and they have to know how to do it and 2) I want them to see what can happen with their grades. With my low level kids, they need to see that as motivation - the learning the material isn't going to enough to get them to reassess.

I'll blog again after Friday and we'll see how it goes. I like what you suggested though - I can see using that in the future. Thanks for your input, Matt. I appreciate it.

Anybody else with other thoughts to add?

Sarah said...

Let's try this again :)

My first thought when I read your post was what are you assessing and do the kids know what exactly you are looking for. For example, is it that they can solve an equation or is it that they can use inverse operations to solve an equation? I've found the more specific I am the better students are at meeting my expectations. That also allows me to have the conversation with the child who can do it all in their head that their method is great but using inverse operations is effective in other situations. Finding the ones that aren't as obvious can also lead to that conversation.

I found that I'm reassessing as a part of my regular quizzes during class. Students can still reassess out of class if they choose but if I know a student needs to show more understanding I'll add that type of question onto their quiz. I usually have a few versions on the quiz depending on which students need to reassess which topics.

Becky Goerend said...

I'm interested to hear how this went. Sorry I didn't weigh in earlier. It's so hard to not "force" reassessment when so many kids don't get it. I like Matt's idea of building it into the next assessment. I sometimes ponder the "retake day." I "force" my students to show evidence of studying either by coming in to go over problems with me or bring in practice problems they've done before they can take a retake. I just wonder if that would work if I did all the retakes on one day.