Monday, July 30, 2012

#made4math Monday, July 30

We were having the discussion on Twitter about paper gradebooks. I create mine in Excel. So, without further ado, here is my #made4math Monday.

I do Standards Based Grading in my class. We also have to keep track of attendance for our students can lose credit if they have missed more than 18 (unexcused) days in my class over the course of the year. To help our administrator, we are to submit paperwork when students have missed 10, 16, and 19 days in our course. Our grade book does not do a great job when it comes to attendance, so I keep a paper copy as well. I print one of these for each class at the beginning of the year (each tab has each class in it) and type the students' names into the document. I can add names at the bottom easily if new students come in. In each block, I write the date absent. When we get the report back from admin as to what days are excused/unexcused, I circle in red the dates that are unexcused so that when I go to do the next set of reports, I can tell which days count.

I am hoping that this won't be as necessary in the upcoming school year since we are getting a new grading program, but if it is, I'll be ready.

The second Excel file I have to share is the file I print my grade book from. I have one tab for each class and at the beginning of each nine weeks, I make sure that my student list is accurate and type in the learning targets, starting with the first one I am grading that nine weeks. This has where I started at the beginning of the fourth nine weeks.

Under each learning target, there are 4 boxes to record scores. I write in the scores the students earn and then transfer them into our electronic grade book. You may wonder why I keep a paper gradebook. The main reason is that I am a little paranoid about our computer gradebook. There have been times when I have gone to enter grades and the internet is down or slow. If I am having trouble entering the grades, I can wait until a better time. In addition, I tend to be slow about entering reassessments into my computer. However, with a paper copy, I can see how many times a student has reassessed a certain learning target and I like being able to see the trend of how my students are doing on reassessments at a glance. I guess I'm still a bit old school in feeling more comfortable in having a paper copy, which is actually kind of ironic since I have used an electronic gradebook program for as long as I have been teaching (20 years!) and at the time I began teaching, that made me on the cutting edge...

Both Excel documents are set to print gridlines. I have also added borders to make things a little clearer for me (especially in the gradebook). Please feel free to download the files from box and use them as you see fit.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

SBG Changes?

For the past two school years, I have done Standards Based Grading (SBG). I have done a 5 (6?) point scale:

I am not totally happy with the scale (I blogged about it here earlier this summer) and I got some great comments. But I'm not totally sold either. I am contemplating changes. I'm not totally certain which one(s) I am going to make, but this is what I am thinking:
1) If I keep the current scale, I think I am going to make the 0 a 0 in the gradebook (instead of 5/10). I had students who played the system and made no attempt on a skill but since it was a 50% going in the gradebook instead of a 0%, they were able to pass (when they really shouldn't have) because they did "just good enough" on enough other skills. I am thinking this may solve the problem I talked about earlier with students passing who really shouldn't have.
2) I am having second thoughts about using a 5 point scale. Our state test is on a 5 point (Limited, Basic, Proficient, Accelerated, Advanced), so staying with it wouldn't be all bad - it could correlate to that potentially. However, there are some things that appeal to me about a 4 point scale. There could be two levels of "not there yet" - students who have significant conceptual errors - and two levels of "more or less have it" - students who have the concept but have other errors not related to the concept or students who truly understand the concept. The 4 point scale may be easier for me in grading. However, I'm not sure how I would correlate it to percentages. It seems that, as I have looked at others scales, more tend to be on a 4-point scale rather than a 5-point scale (not that what everyone else is doing is going to sway me).

Anyone have some guiding thoughts to help me here? I'd like to get this issue straightened in my head sooner rather than later. We have about 4 weeks until school starts, so I guess I better figure this out...

Monday, July 23, 2012


Let me preface this post that there is no way I can accurately express just how AWESOME Twitter Math Camp 2012 (#TMC12) was. Once I got back to my parents Sunday night, Jason and I spent an hour talking with my parents sharing the moments from TMC12. (It was totally lost on them, I think.) I am still trying to figure out how to distill into 1-2 minutes my experience and am struggling mightily. Of course, some of that may have to do with my lack of sleep at the moment.

Quite simply, TMC12 was the most rich professional development experience I have ever taken part in. (And no, I’m not biased here just because I was part of the organizational team.) 37 of some of the nation’s best (math) teachers gathered at MICDS in St. Louis for 3 ½ days of working on Exeter Math Problem Sets and sharing with each other. (Here’s the program) We had incredible presentations on a variety of topics. We shared many of our favorite teaching related things – so much so that we adjusted the schedule and scrapped the problem working session on Sunday morning for an hour and a half of additional my favorite things to share.

And we talked. Oh, did we talk. Conversations were happening pretty much the entire time we were together. Yes, there was a lot of education and math related conversations going on. But we also shared about ourselves, our families, our passions outside of teaching. You see, the point of TMC12 was to meet in person. Yes, we wanted to work the Exeter Problems in person and share teaching ideas and strategies. But for some of us, we have been tweeting and blogging in community for 3 or more years and we’ve not only shared our highs and lows in our classrooms, we’ve shared parts of our lives. We are friends, whether or not we have met in person. Which means, of course, you want to see your friends. Experience things with them. Make new ones. And we did all that.

I’m sure that some of the things that we did both in and out of our “official” TMC12 sessions will come out in the coming days. In fact, I am counting on people blogging about it. There were some wonderful ideas shared in the “My Favorite…” sessions that many people expressed interest in seeing blogged. My husband Jason (who was at TMC12 as staff) said that the two most common things he heard were “Blog about that” and “I need to charge my phone”/”I need an iPhone charger”/”I NEED AN OUTLET!!!!”(“Can anyone reach that one on the ceiling?”). I will compile the blog posts here. You’re on your own for charging your phone.

So far (updated 12/3/12 5:45a EDT):
TMC Page on Math Teacher's Wiki

Sessions/My Favorites:
Anthony Rossetti - Socrative (adding to what Colin MacLeod shared)
Hedge - Marshmallow Guns
David Petersen - Factoring Cubics Mnemonic
Elizabeth Statmore - Day 1 Exeter Problems Reflections
Elissa Miller - Exeter Problems Reflections
Elizabeth Statmore - Drive Presentation
David Petersen - Matrix Multiplication
James Cleveland - Totally Radical game
Sarah Bratt - Subtracting Integers
Max Ray - Looking at Student Work
Elissa Miller - Reflections on Problem Solving and Drive Sessions
Sam Shah - Welcome to the Mathtwitterblogosphere
Glenn Waddell - A visual representation of imaginary solutions
Bowman Dickson - Getting Started with GeoGebra
Bowman Dickson - MATH Whiteboarding

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Summer Update

Sometimes, you just need a break. And a break, is what I am taking right now. I can't say I am taking a TOTAL break from math/education/school, but for the most part, that is what I have been doing since school finished about a month ago. The last two summers, I have been thinking and reading math and math ed most of the summer. I can't say that I really felt like I had an honest break from school. Although I cannot say whether or not it was conscious or not, I have not been reading, thinking, and absorbing math and math ed for the last few weeks. To be honest, I only feel a teeny-weeny bit guilty. I do have things I need to work through and learn about this summer before heading back. However, my #summerlist this year is MUCH shorter.

The break I am taking is much needed. By a week or two after Christmas Vacation (which was a full 2 weeks plus the weekends before and after), I was feeling mentally fed up with school. Even though I kept plugging along, trying new things, I felt like I was on the proverbial hamster wheel.

from: Clips Ahoy

So, what have I been doing? June has been busy - running the kids places, visiting my parents, cleaning while the kids were at church camp for a couple of days, capped with a trip to the Monte Carlo Nationals in Johnson City, TN (with an excursion to Bristol Motor Speedway - more on that in another blog post). Oh, and planning Twitter Math Camp, which is coming up from July 19-22 in St. Louis.

That's not to say I haven't been doing anything with respect to school. We are doing curriculum mapping and I have three to get done before school starts back up in August. I did get the Calculus one done and I have left the two classes that I will be teaching next fall - Algebra 2 and Math 2 (think Geometry without proofs). I haven't decided which one I will work on next, but I have a mental goal of starting it next week. Possibly Math 2 next since I don't have learning targets for it yet.

I have one book I would like to read on Formative Assessment which I hope to start soon. The other thing I am working on is organizing the starred blog posts in my GReader in Diigo. I am tagging the posts so that when I am looking for something come fall, I can find it much easier. I had a flurry in June while I was at my parents, but I got sidetracked and need to get back on track. I also would like to go back through some of my favorite blogs and find the older things I may have missed that will be helpful for me. I have already done this with Infinite Sums and I know I want to do Square Root of Negative One Teach Math next. I'm hoping to get back on track shortly so that I can get re-motivated to do this.

While those are some of the things on my #summerlist, I still have a few other things to tackle. SBG is something I am really pondering this summer before I put it together for 2012-2013. Thanks to everyone for some great comments on my post on SBG and Grades. While I haven't responded to all of them, I am certainly thinking it through. I am glad to see that not everyone does SBG on equal percentage intervals. I think I am starting to lean towards that, although I haven't totally figured it out. I still have a lot to ponder there.

I do have to say that I feel more mentally refreshed at the moment than I have in a while. Taking a break from school is necessary. Sam Shah blogged about it at the beginning of last school year. Go ahead, click on the link and read it. It's well worth it. I'll wait. I am rediscovering that if I don't take care of me - and that means mentally as well as physically - that I am not the best me I can be. If I'm not the best me I can be, the people who depend on me - my children, my husband, my students - are being cheated. So, I am taking a break and recharging (which was on my #summerlist). I highly recommend that you do the same. Find the other things you like to do and talk about (other than math and school) and do them. It's worth it.