Monday, November 29, 2010

Working, not living....

Need to immerse myself in work to avoid reality. I spent this weekend figuring out how to fix my Geometry class. This is what I have come up with:

I'll start telling them what wasn't working and why.

Grading Problems:
1. I gave 5 points per day to people who really did their homework and to those who faked it so it wasn't fair.
2. Some people did not take correcting homework seriously. This resulted in either low homework quiz scores or extended time needed on homework quizzes.
3. Tests and test corrections: problems and grade were not directly correlated to what you needed to learn and how well you learned it.

Next, I'll explain concept quizzes. I 'm still going to assign homework and do homework quizzes and I can't give up the portfolio assignment. I'll just kind of ease into this whole thing. 

I am wondering how this might work in my Earth Science class.

I talked to the Latin teacher about this today, she was very interested.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ready for SBG

I just stayed up until 2 am reading posts about Standards Based Grading.

Here are some of the changes I'm going to make in my Geometry Class. I'm going to give students 3 points for completing homework every day (instead of 5). That will make their homework points equal to 1/2 of their  homework quiz points. Homework quizzes will be timed, 10 minutes at the end of class every green day.

Instead of the Gateways test and regular tests, I am going to have standards tests for mastery. Each skill is worth 5 points but these will be worth 60% of the total grade. I'm going to use Dan Meyer's method for assessing essential skills. I'm starting late but I will give the first test next week (white days) with 6 standards.  I'm going to buy 26 folders and put the skills sheet in there for them to keep track.

I'll still do portfolios once a month but I need to explain them better.

If I want to to an Activote quiz, I'm not going to use votes anymore, I'm going to use index cards (thanks, Kate).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bad Week but Good KIds

What an exhausting week. Science was crazy, we did snack tectonics and set up for another lab and I still haven't graded the rock labs. On top of it I have a sore throat and bad cough.  Yesterday I had to go home in the middle of the day I was so sick, now I'm coughing like crazy. I've got to figure out how to make good sub plans. I'm thinking about recording my voice in ActivInspire (or Jing) because my Science class had to have a study hall yesterday.

I barely made it through today but the kids were energizing. In Geometry, they were totally engaged for the full 51 minutes doing a team test and in Algebra we played a work at your own pace BINGO game I stole from Dan Meyer.

Next week is short and hopefully I can kick this darn cough/cold.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

College Preparatory Mathematics

We are in our second year with this curriculum and though I like some aspects of it, some of it is frustrating me. I taught Algebra for 9 years, took one year off (that was last year). Yesterday, I read that CPM was killing someone's blog because the lessons were so easy to do. I feel the opposite; they aren't easy for me because I feel restricted and I want to do my old stuff and can't figure out how to fit it in. I find myself wanting to skip lessons and I have gotten frustrated with spending so much time on Algebra Tiles and Guess and Check when many of the students were ready for using the algebra.

I do love how strong my students are this year compared to other years and I do credit the CPM curriculum for that since almost all of my students had math from non-math teachers last year who followed the curriculum very closely. Our school had an enrollment decline and teachers were let go and classes were redistributed. That's also the reason I started teaching Science.

Anyway, I need to figure this out, I don't like how slow we are moving and the students are not as engaged as I would like them to be some days. I might have had more engagement before. I think my blog name "Undetermined" fits my feelings about this curriculum too. I need to get through this year and than work in the summer figuring out how to make this my own. The lessons are well-written and thoughtful but I can't teach someone else's lesson very well.

Earth Science Class

I started teaching Earth Science last year. I had to start from scratch with a textbook and the instruction from my department head to focus on inquiry (duh?). I started the year with a scale model project. My plan was to talk about models and imperfections and at the same time have them work on measurements and conversions; they also had to get good at solving problems when they couldn't get their chair to look like a chair. Some kids looked up real places on Google Earth and made models. It was also an excellent way to teach proportion. I used this in my Algebra class this year since I have the same kids for Math and Science.

After the Scale Model Project, we work on Rocks and Minerals. I have them do density determinations on three minerals (quartz, galena and pyrite) with 3 distinct densities and they calculate their precision (using standard deviation) and their percent error. Some students last year complained that there was too much math in science- I said "Yeah." This year no complaints, it may be because they all have me for math. We then do a major project identifying unknown rocks. I am needing to grade all these projects now and finally get the rocks sorted properly. I inherited a crazy amount of rocks and I have to get some order. The lab was a real mess, every drawer has random stuff in it, most drawers have rocks.

We just started plate tectonics and soon they will start their Earthquake/Volcano documentaries. I am not allowing video this year, since we had such technical difficulties and the Keynote/Powerpoints with embedded videos and sound were so much better.

The one thing I really like about my science class is how I do labs. I have the students create their own procedures, I actually practice being less helpful. If they ask me (while doing their lab) how to do something, I say "What does your procedure say?"

I'll write more about science later. I don't care if anyone reads this blog, I think it's good to write about what I do.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Not sure why I'm doing this

Don't I have enough to do?  My fingers hurt from being on the computer so much. Perhaps I have something to share but I'm not even sure. I've been teaching math for ten years now. I used to be a Chemist. I taught Chemistry for a bit, then quit when I was pregnant with my third child and my middle son's daycare suddenly evaporated. When I decided to start teaching again there was a math teacher opening at the private school where I had just enrolled my 6th grade son (now 22).

I teach Geometry, Algebra and Earth Science right now-all 8th grade. I really like teaching Science and have been contemplating abandoning Math but I also don't want to quit because I feel I am getting better at it. I also have recently become obsessed with reading math teacher blogs which is making me want to get better and keep going.