Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Blog is Moving

I am moving my blog to its own website: I hope that you will continue to follow me there. I have moved all posts and comments and I will keep this website up for some time in case you're looking for something in particular. Some of the stuff that was attached by scribd or box did not come through and I am working on that as I can.

Please adjust your links accordingly. Thanks! :-)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Thursday, June 06, 2013

What Should Students Leave Algebra 1 Knowing

As I mentioned in my last post, I will be teaching Algebra 1 next school year. I am beginning the process of putting together my curriculum map, however, I have to say I am pretty overwhelmed at the moment. I am also taking a course through our county's educational service center about writing SLOs (Student Learning Outcomes). Part of what we have to do is decide what standards we should cover with our SLO. I thought at some point, some one had a post about what the most important skills and concepts that students should leave Algebra 1 with but when I tweeted it out this morning, I got crickets.

So, I pose the question to you, dear readers. What do you think the five most important skills and/or concepts that a student master in Algebra 1? If you happen to know where they fall in the Common Core State Standards, that would be helpful, too. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Change, it's a comin'

Yes, things are changing in my world next year. Instead of teaching Algebra 2 and Math 2, I will be teaching Algebra 1, Math 1, and Calculus. I last taught Math 1 in 2011-2012 and Calculus in 2010-2011, but I think it's been since 1999-2000 since I last taught Algebra 1. We were using the UCSMP book then. Needless to say, Common Core wasn't even a thought then. We were using a County-wide curriculum book at that point - the Ohio State Standards were still in development then. By the same token, I have taught Algebra 2 for almost my entire 21 years teaching (except maybe 3 years I think).

I have to say that I was a little sad that I wasn't teaching Algebra 2 next year. However, now that I have had a week or so to think about it and for it to sink in, I am looking forward to the change. I will be teaching some of the same content that I have taught, although I am still trying to figure out how much of it filters to Algebra 1. What has also sunk in is that I will have to do yet another curriculum map and Learning Target list. Now, I have to figure out where to start in terms of the Common Core. After talking to our county math person, I think I am going to begin with what the Dana Center has for Algebra 1 and then adjusting for the PARCC Model Content Frameworks since we are in a PARCC state. I am still debating how much of the original Appendix A I will use since my understanding was that it is a guideline for the courses.

Then, of course, come the questions in my mind of how I am going to structure my course with Standards Based Grading. With having almost all freshmen, I know that I will need to have some sort of structure to incorporate homework into it. Without having that, I am certain that the students won't practice problems outside of class. I am also going to need to incorporate more in class practice as well. Lots of things bouncing around in my head right now.

So, as Summer 2013 begins, I am still working. Starting first to decide on how my Algebra 1 course will be structured, then moving towards finding the resources to help me. Should be an interesting summer...

Sunday, June 02, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Homework and SBG

As the year draws to a close, I look back to see what went well and what didn't go so well. Since I am doing Standards Based Grading, I have not been grading homework/practice problems. In fact, since I stopped grading homework, I have done a rather poor job of even checking to see if my students have done the homework/practice problems at all. This needs to change for next year. Somehow, I need to not only check to see if my students are doing practice problems, but I think I need to factor it into their grade somehow. At least if it's in their grade, they do make some attempt most of the time (even if they copy it).

However, I am not real thrilled about putting in some sort of homework grade. I feel that if it's practice, they shouldn't be graded on correctness. They are still learning the material and won't necessarily have it all correct. When I used to grade homework, I did it by completion - 5 points all done, 3 points partially done, 0 points not done (or not much). I don't want to go back to that - it would put a huge imbalance towards homework/practice problems based on how I do my grading now.

So, what do you do about homework/practice problems when you are doing Standards Based Grading? I know true SBG doesn't factor in homework at all. For my students, I don't think that is the best answer. How would you incorporate a homework/practice problems grade to help encourage students to do the practice problems? Or what would you do differently to ensure that students do practice? I look forward to your comments.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Things I Have Forgotten

We are coming up on the end of the year. This is our last full week. Seniors are taking their finals (not in our classrooms) and we're not too far from the underclassmen doing the same. I am preparing to give my final regular assessment in my Algebra 2 classes tomorrow. We are finishing up rational expressions and I pulled out the folder review (original post from Mrs. Graham is here) I had used last year and tweaked it to fit what they were reviewing for tomorrow's assessment. In all four of my classes, students worked. Not every student, but the vast majority of them. For it being a Monday and 8 days left in school, I felt that was great.

As my last class was working on the review and I was making the rounds, it hit me. When I design activities that "force" them to work, most students do what is needed to be done. When they actually practice, they do well. What I have been doing in the classroom this year has not done that well at all. The best students will practice the homework problems, but for the most part, since I am not grading the homework and I am not sitting there finding a way to make them do the problems, many do not practice as they should.

So, how do I restructure my class to make sure that my students practice their mathematics? How do I provide enough structure that they feel they can attempt the problems on their own without being the "sage on the stage?" I feel that the guided notes I have created to help them take notes has helped, however, there are still too many who don't even bother to fill them in. Without having a textbook right now for students to refer to for help, I still feel that giving some direct instruction with guided notes is important. I also realize that they need in class practice time without it being a social/free-for-all time. How do I blend it all together?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Sunday, May 05, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Please help by sharing your classroom practices

I had my evaluation today. It was not pretty, and this was not totally unexpected on my part. As I am stepping back and looking at this year, the more I reflect on it, the more I realize that with the changes in my Algebra 2 curriculum (moving to Common Core, not using a textbook), I reverted back to what I know - using direct instruction. And I did it way too much. I knew that going into my evaluation. My students are not very engaged in my class, something else I pretty much knew. My evaluation did not tell me anything that I did not already know. Was I upset? Yes. Even though I knew where I stood, I haven't figured out what to do about it and the reality of where I am at coupled with that I don't really know how to fix it made me upset. I'm not going to rehash everything. It's not productive and at this point, I need to move on. I need to figure out how to fix stuff.

So, I reach out to my teaching friends in the Math Twitterblogosphere for help. I don't know who else to ask. Please remember that I teach high school (primarily 10th graders, but I do have all grades) and understand that I see my students 50 minutes each day. If you could share what has worked in your classrooms in the comments, I would be greatly appreciative. I need to have somewhere to start.

The two main areas I want to and need to work on are student engagement and differentiation. What do you do in your classes to have students doing most of the "work" if you will and you, as teacher, not being the one up in front of the class? How do you structure your lessons to accomplish this? I realize that not every concept will lend itself to some of these strategies, but any guidance you can give will help. John Scammell shared what he did with multiplying radicals earlier and I am using that here in the near future. How do you create these kinds of materials? How do you set up the worksheet for them to discover the rules? What other strategies do you have to share?

As far as differentiation goes, I guess the biggest question I have at the moment is how do you structure and put into practice differentiated assessments while making sure that every student demonstrates they know the concept and without making your job a nightmare to grade them? Do you use tests or do you use something else (projects, assignment, etc.)? If you don't use tests, how do you structure the project or assignment to ensure that the student demonstrates their own knowledge (as opposed to his or her knowledge with help) or do you not worry about it so much?

If you don't want to respond in the comments and would rather email me, you are welcome to email me at lmhenry9 at gmail dot com. Thanks in advance for your help.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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