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.