Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Diigo Bookmarks (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Diigo Bookmarks (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

SBG and Grades

I blogged recently about some of the issues I have with SBG when it comes to reassessments. The other issue that I did not touch upon is equally as thorny. When you are the only one doing Standards Based Grading and you have to give a percentage grade, how do you go about doing it?

The past two years, I have taking my scale and converted it to scores out of ten points.

Basically, I added 5 to each numeric score and made it a score out of 10. The first year, I felt pretty good about where grades ended up. I can't say that this year. I had 2 students who passed Algebra 2 who probably shouldn't have passed the course. I am wondering if I have my scores correlated to the appropriate grades.

In Ohio, we give students a score on their state tests based on the following 5 point scale:

Now, granted, some of the names are misnomers to me because in order to be "Proficient," you earn about 40% of the possible points on the test. Plus, the skills that are tested (at least for the Ohio Graduation Test) are from 8th through 10th grade and if it's supposed to be a graduation test, I feel it should also test 11th and 12th grade skills. However, I'm not presenting the names as an attempt to argue about the OGTs today.

BUT, I do think I need to possibly change how I grade and stay with the idea of a true 5-point scale that our state testing uses. I am struggling with how to adjust the worth. I figure to drop the "0" and work with 5 true points. Our school grading scale is:
0-65% F
66-74% D
75-84% C
85-92% B
93-100% A
We give percent scores on the report card as well as on progress reports.

The first two should be, in my mind, something along the lines of little or no knowledge and some knowledge. Neither of these scores should be passing. Since 66% is passing, I'm not totally sure how I want to break these up. One thought I have is the lowest should be 5/10 (50%) and the second lowest 6/10 (60%) or 6.5/10 (65%).

The middle score is I think too high currently at 8/10 (80%). I am thinking it should be at 7.5/10 (75%), which is the lowest C in our grading scale. However, if I do that, where do I put the second highest score? 8.5/10 (85%)? 9/10 (90%)? Do my increments really need to be equal? I still want the top score to be 10/10 (100%), but then I still have the issue of what do I do with the students who have the concepts down but make one computational error (whom I tended to give a 4.5 -> 9.5/10 (95%)) or have the idea down except for one minor conceptual error that was not specifically related to the concept being graded. So that brings me back to a 6 point scale rather than 5 points.

So many questions, so few answers. How do you adjust your SBG in a non-SBG grading world?

HW Solution?

I, like many of you, have been debating what to do about homework. I don't want to grade it. With doing Standards Based Grading,  I don't feel it makes sense to grade it (I'm not rehashing this discussion). However, students aren't practicing like they should be. As I was in a session with Cathy Hamilton over the last two days, she made the point that students will not do any homework that does not receive any feedback. This was the brainstorm that hit me as I was listening to her today.

Students would come into class and pick up a half sheet of paper that looks like this:

(obviously this is the full page I would send to the copier)

On the paper, they would fill in the top and copy (from their homework) a practice problem that they felt good about how they did on it (on the left) and a practice problem that they need some feedback from me (on the right). Since I provide them the answers, they would be able to check themselves to know what was correct. I would need to make clear to them that I would not work out a problem from the beginning for them on this page - receiving feedback means that they would show me what they could do and I would comment on what they did and point them in the right direction.

What do I hope to accomplish?
First, I would hope it would encourage students to do their assigned problems. Second, it would allow me to see what they've actually done on two problems and comment on them.

The biggest downside I see at the moment is the time it will take to read through and comment on each paper.

What do you think? Please comment (good and bad) and help me figure out if this is a possible way to encourage students to do their assigned problems and be beneficial to both me and my students. Thanks.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Diigo Bookmarks (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

20 Years

Today was my last day of my 20th year teaching. Wow. I'm not really sure what to think. Now, granted, all 20 have not been in the same place. I taught 5 years outside of Columbus, 2 years at another area district, and 13 at my current district. However, 20 years in the same profession seems like it should be some sort of a milestone. I have been a math teacher for 20 years. I have not taught the same thing for all of those years, but I have been doing the same basic thing for 20 years.

And yet, I have still have a long way to go and enthusiasm left for my job. When I first started teaching, I could potentially retire after 30 years teaching. With the changing conditions of teachers' pensions in the state of Ohio, I could still potentially retire in 10 years, or 11 years. But at that point in time, my first child could be in college, the second one still in high school. I would be 51 (or 52), which is still (relatively) young to retire. And to be honest, I just can't see retiring from teaching at that point. I didn't think I would retire at 30 years when I first started teaching, but it was nice knowing I had that option. With the changes in our state teachers' pension, if I don't retire at 30 or 31 years, I cannot retire until I've taught 39 years (I have to be age 60 and have 35 years in). Although I was a little upset about that at first, I can honestly say that I'm okay with that. At this point, the "plan" is to teach until I reach 40 years, which means I have just hit the halfway point in my teaching career.

Usually at this point of the year, I am jumping up and down to be out of school. In some respects, I am. I was definitely ready to move on to a new group of students from this year's group. But yet, I am a little sad to see some of this year's group go. I had this group in 7th grade, or in 8th grade and 9th grade in some cases and it's been good to see their growth. But this group has also been rather trying in other ways for me (and I've blogged about it and I really don't feel like going there right now to be honest). But instead of jumping up and down on the way out, I was quietly glad for the end of the year. I am looking forward to Twitter Math Camp and the relaxing part of vacation. But there are lots of things circulating in my head that I need to reflect on and decide how to improve.

My summers didn't used to be like this. Ever since I've been involved with the Twitterblogosphere (this blog will be 2 on June 18th and I've been active on Twitter for about 2 1/2 years), my summers have involved introspection, learning on my own about things like Standards Based Grading, and lots of education reading and discussions. And although I'm planning on doing a little of that, I think I am going to be more purposeful in what I am reading. This "Old Dog" is feeling a little worn out right now. It's time to recharge. I'd like to make my next 20 years better than my first 20 years. Thanks to all of you who have helped me (and will help me) become a better teacher. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

SBG For The Rest of the Students

Today was the last day with students. I have a half day tomorrow and then I will have finished my 20th year teaching. Kind of hard to believe. I have been thinking about several things over the last few days but sitting down and actually blogging about it has been hard. Part of that has to do with all of the other stuff going on. My daughter and I will be heading to Rock the Mall on a turnaround bus trip she earned through selling Girl Scout Cookies. We leave about 11 pm Friday night, ride all night to DC, head to the event, and get on the bus to head home. We'll get in around 4-5 am Sunday morning. I've been getting ready for that. I'm also trying to do some other things to finish the year out as well.

So I sit here Tuesday evening trying to blog the thoughts I've had over the last few days as I close out this year and begin to think about the new one. I suppose I'll have a few posts over the next few days.

Right now the biggest thing on my mind is how next year is going to shape up. My schedule (as of right now) is 1 class of Math 2 (lower ability sophomores - think Geometry without proofs) and 5 classes of Algebra 2. I've taught Math 2 before - it's been 2 years since I had it last, but I haven't done it under SBG before. Since we have to do curriculum maps over the summer, they will be helpful in setting up my Learning Target lists for the year.

As far as Algebra 2 goes, there will be no Advanced Algebra 2 class next year. That means my classes will have students from freshmen, who should be pretty strong mathematically, to sophomores, who are where they should be, to juniors and seniors, who could very well struggle. To be honest, I am little concerned. I think a lot of it goes back to what Michael Pershan blogged about earlier this week.

I did look at my SBG data for this year. I'll spare you all the data like I did last year (SBG Analysis), mainly because I think it's more important to be aware of the overall picture. Like Michael blogged, my top students almost always come in for re-assessments. It doesn't matter whether they are in my Advanced Algebra 2 class or regular Algebra 2 class, almost every freshman student I had came in for at least one re-assessment at some point of the year. If you include my top sophomore students as well in that group, you will find that the top students, as a whole, come in to re-assess. I believe most of them come in because they want to improve their grade, although some come in because they they know they know it better than they showed on the test. Most of these students are successful in improving their scores.

Beyond the top students, most of my other students do not come in for re-assessments. Although this does concern me as a whole, it really concerns me about the lower ability students. Looking ahead, I want to make sure that they do not get lost, especially knowing that Algebra 2 next year will have a much smaller amount of review from Algebra 1. I'm not sure what to do. I am pretty sure that I do not do the best job of reinforcing with my students that they need to re-assess. I am not sure how to best go about doing that without seeming like I am nagging them like their mother. However, I know I need to do a better job with them on talking about SBG on a more regular basis.

However, I am still troubled about those lower level students. I am thinking about a few of my lowest ability students in Algebra 2 this year who really struggled with the second half of the year. How do you get them to come in and get help and re-assess? They are high school students - almost adults. How do you get them to feel it is worthwhile to come in and get help and follow through with actually preparing and re-assessing. These are students who have struggled with mathematics for a while. Their numbers will be growing, since the State of Ohio has not only mandated that the Class of 2014 will graduate with 4 math credits, but also that one of those credits must be Algebra 2 or its equivalent. My numbers of students who have struggled with mathematics (and will most likely struggle with Algebra 2) will continue to increase. How do I help them to be successful?

I have thought about personally inviting the student to stay after school (or come in before school, or during my planning period) for help. However, many of my students, especially the juniors and seniors, work. As I've mentioned before, many of my students receive free or reduced lunch and work may be more a necessity rather than just to earn some extra money for fun. How do you impress upon them that their schooling needs to take more of a priority? How do you get them to realize that it's okay to come in and get help? Another thought I have had was to set up something after school on a weekly basis where students could come in and get help and I'd have some sort of snack for them. Or donuts in the morning for a before school help session. I would hope that food would help to bring them in, although it can get pricey for me depending on numbers and how often I did it. Also, if I get too many students in the door, it becomes more like class and less a help session for a struggling student.

I know I'm rambling a lot here - as many of you know, I tend to blog what I'm thinking with the hope that somehow it works itself out through the process. I feel really stumped about this one. How do you get the struggling students in for help and back in to re-assess?

Sunday, June 03, 2012

My Diigo Bookmarks (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.