But then I start reading Mathematics Formative Assessment and we had a Waiver Day last week where a lot of the discussion was around formative assessment and now I feel like I suck as a teacher. As it is, I have been stressed and barely on top of stuff and it is extremely easy to revert to my old, established ways of just teaching and students watching, taking notes and then having to work out the problems.
During the Waiver Day, one of the speakers was talking about making formative assessment part of the daily culture of your classroom. I wish I could remember what exactly she said or what triggered the thoughts in my head, but I got to thinking that maybe I didn't need to do my lessons the same way each day. Right now, I still pretty much start with a warm up, go over homework problems, then teach the lesson. As it is right now, I don't have time to do an exit slip - I am pretty much filling the period. I want to do exit slips - I know I need to, and to be honest, I'd like to get to a point that I could try Socrative with my students. But if I don't have enough time in class to get to a paper exit slip, how am I going to have time to get to Socrative?
Another thing that was discussed, albeit briefly, was flexible grouping and differentiation. This is something else that I haven't done before and probably ought to be doing. It was presented to us as a part of using formative assessment to form the flexible groups. They didn't give us a ton of information about it, so I suppose that I will have to go do some research about it in my ever-
One small good thing that I have done in the last week is I did put together a Google Form to survey my students as to what they know/remember about functions, which is our next unit. In the past, I have just taken for granted that they remembered (or guessed what they wouldn't remember) what was previously taught. I did do a pre-test at the beginning of the school year the last couple of years, but I wasn't happy with it. So, this is what I came up with while mowing the lawn Sunday:
(Hopefully this will continue to show up after my students are done with this)
I did like doing the pre-assessment this way. I very quickly got an idea after the first 5-10 responses where my students stood because I had a fairly good representative sample of students with varying abilities. What I did find out that they didn't know a whole lot about functions and function notation. I didn't ask them about the idea of one-to-one and based on what I saw in their responses, I'm pretty sure they don't remember much about it if at all. I am rethinking how I am going to teach functions. Originally I was going to start right at operations with functions, but I think I am going to have to spend a day reviewing what functions are beforehand. At least I know that now. :-)
Back to the original reason for posting... I still pretty much feel like I am totally sucking as a teacher. I am still pretty much teaching the way I was taught and the way I have taught for the last twenty years. I am looking at some of my students and seeing that they are not engaged. I already see a couple of my lower-ability students already not putting forth much effort and one in particular who is starting to become rather challenging - not participating in group activities and bringing down his group in the process, which happened today. He and I will have to have a conversation here shortly I can see.
I am looking ahead to functions and trying to figure out how I'm going to help my students learn the material. I wanted to type "teach" there, but as I was about to type it, I thought that if I said "teach," I already knew what to do. I know how to explain to my students how to work through the procedural stuff. But that doesn't help them learn the material. I'm trying to figure out how to help them learn the material. Me teaching and them sitting and getting isn't going to work. I have been telling myself that for 2-3 years now. The problem is, I haven't done anything about it. Compounding that, I don't really know what to do. What do I do differently? How do I structure class so that my students are learning and I am aiding them in their learning rather than imparting information to them?