Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Change is Hard

I'm about a month into school as I sit and write this post tonight. I feel like I am finally settling into the groove of the school year, however, I'm not sure if I like the groove this year is settling into. It's not the students I have - for the most part, I am pleased with how my students are putting forth effort. I'm in the process of getting to the first set of quizzes with graded sections. We had the set of feedback-only quizzes last week - this week has 3 graded concepts and 3 feedback-only concepts. I didn't really do any review with them in front of their quizzes. I haven't finished grading the set I gave today (the 2nd of my 3 preps), but the initial look wasn't as good as I hoped. I am sitting here questioning if this is the way I want to do SBG this year - teach 3 concepts, quiz, repeat. That means a quiz about every week and I need to do a much better job of fitting review in. Any suggestions from my readers are welcome, especially since I am not doing any review at the moment except for one warm up a week.

The daily warm ups are going well, I think. I definitely like the themes - it has really focused me and made sure that I do them. Of course, as I am typing this, I am realizing I haven't set up the lessons for tomorrow. I think the kids are putting forth good effort and I feel pretty good about how my classes are going so far.

However, I wanted to make some changes this year. As you can see, the bathroom remodel is done. I still have to put things back in order (hopefully tomorrow!), but it's done. As far as my own changes in the classroom, I'm trying. I haven't incorporated as much problem solving as I want to. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do with it. I just need to start somewhere. I did use this great explanation for absolute value equations and inequalities that Kate Nowak blogged about. We'll see how that turns out with quizzes - although today as I glanced at some papers, I could still see that several students didn't get it. Many of them were ones who weren't paying good attention - and it showed. I am looking at putting together a rich task based on what Kate Nowak did. I did a similar task at the NCTM Institute for Reasoning and Sense Making in Orlando this past July. I keep thinking about it, but I haven't put it into action. My Advanced Algebra 2 kids will probably be ready for this one on Friday, but I'm not sure if I'll be there yet. Guess I better get moving on it.

The bottom line is that change is hard. I am trying to do some different things, but I still feel like I am teaching things mostly the same way. I am trying hard not to fall into old ruts - I am doing better walking around to check on students to see how they're doing. I am doing better with asking students what questions they have instead if there are any questions. There are some subtle changes I am making that I think are working. I have done a better job of formative assessment this year so far I think. I am making a point to not use the second person pronoun ("you") when commenting on what students have done wrong (@RobertTalbot I think was who I saw tweet about it). I am trying to give students feedback to help guide them. But there are still lots of things I want to improve on. I guess I have to remember that it is easier to make small changes and to improve what I can. Hopefully I'll get where I want to be during the course of the school year.

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