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?