Assessment Reflection & End of Quarter Reflection

I had planned to blog about my End of Quarter Student Reflection, since they just completed them and I have been reading through them. Then yesterday I jumped in a Twitter conversation between David (@delta_dc) and Julie (@jreulbach) that started with David’s question “Is it okay if a student is surprised by his or her grade on an assessment?”. There were a lot of ideas shared and when I jumped in I mentioned my during assessment reflection that I have used in the past.  So now this post will cover both reflections. 🙂

Assessment Reflection
I have used this in the past (not yet this year) to help students slow down a bit during assessments and to help identify where they went wrong and why.  I’ve had it for years and created it with teachers at my school, but don’t know if it originally came from somewhere online (if it’s similar to something of yours, please let me know so I can properly cite!).

I’ve tried to upload the Word Doc file instead of the PDF to Scribd for you. However, it then formats funny and doesn’t use my fun/cute fonts.  🙂 I am sure you can figure it out.

End of Quarter Reflection
I had the students respond to a survey on Quarter 1, which included questions about my teaching, our activities, the ISN, SBG, etc.  I have compiled those results for an in class discussion on Tuesday so we can make changes, clarify misconceptions and move forward in our planning for Quarter 2.  I want my students to feel a part of the decisions I made and the things we do in the classroom.

However, the reflection I am talking about here wasn’t that one, instead I created a reflection for students to reflect on themselves as a student for Quarter 1.  I asked them to reflect on their mastery of skills, their participation as a group member and then write their own comment about themselves as a student for first quarter; similar to what a teacher might write about them.  This was a GREAT reflection to share during parent teacher conferences this week and students were honest, open and striving to improve in their performance during second quarter.

Overall, we did a lot of reflection at the end of the quarter. Students even reflected on the ISN AND I had parents reflect on the ISN; that was awesome to read, the good and the bad about the ISN. 🙂 I like taking the time for students to reflect AND taking the time on my end to read and respond to all of it.  It helps me become a better teacher, to reach the students I have THIS YEAR and it helps them learn that reflection is important, especially when you take something from it and work to improve or change.

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SBG Reflections

All you awesome teachers in my blog reader keep writing amazing posts that remind me of things I wanted to reflect on or write about.  Fawn Nyugen wrote a great post about her first year of SBG and it caused me to reflect on my four years of using SBG and how I will apply it to Geometry next year, which I’ve never taught. So, without the elegant writing that Fawn has and copying her headings, here is my reflection! In order to make it easy to read, I am linking to documents rather than embedding them.

What worked

  • Incorporating a Google Form for retakes. I created mine from a mix of those I saw online and even though I waited until 4th Quarter to do so, it helped SO much.  Mainly because I found a script that emails me the form responses when students hit submit…there is NO need for me to check the form daily! It even comes through the email nice and neat.  I then created a folder in my email with a rule that all emails with the Request to Reassess in the subject (set up in the google form), get sent to this specific folder. I liked this because it removed the requests for passes during class time and asked the students to reflect.  And they reflected pretty well seeing as though I added this 4th quarter.
  • Only allowing lunch retakes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This allowed me to have Wednesdays to meet with students who needed help and Fridays because we have treat Friday’s in the 8th grade office and I like spending that time with those awesome teachers.
  • Color coding my PAPER gradebook. Students who earned a 2-1-0 on a skill were highlighted in pink once I posted a note in their online gradebook. The note in the gradebook mentioned that I wanted to see them during lunch to review their missed skill…this was the same thing I wrote on their quiz. I highlighted the students who mastered the skill in green. This allowed me to easily view which skills I needed to reteach and which skills most of the class had mastered.
  • Requiring two 4’s (two mastery scores) in order to fully master (or be completed with) a skill.  I liked this because the questions on the second quiz were a little more difficult in nature, really challenging students to prove their knowledge. I have no idea how I can do this with Geometry when it is all so new to me.
  • Skills Checklist.  It’s amazing how much 8th grade students LOVE stickers! They get a sticker when they master a skill.  This allowed them to know AT ANY TIME, which skills they still needed help with.  I like this because they kept all of their skill quizzes in a folder along with the checklist and they didn’t need technology to log into the gradebook to see what they needed to skill master.  I find the stickers at the dollar store or Target’s $1 section and even got quite  a few packs for Christmas this past year from students.
  • Short Skill quizzes. Most had 1-4 skills being assessed through 4-10 questions, with 2-4 questions per skill. This meant they didn’t take students they entire 45 minute period to take the quiz and they didn’t take me that long to grade. By not losing an entire period to a quiz, I was able to use the time before or the time after for a lesson or activity or review.

What didn’t work (and I won’t reinstate them)

  • Color coded excel gradebook. I found a PDF example online of a SBG excel gradebook that color coded the scores and would automatically tabulate when students had passed a skill twice.  I thought it was the coolest thing, took a good deal of time to make it. Yet I didn’t like having to write the scores down and transfer them to that document and then to the online gradebook.  This didn’t even make it past a few weeks.  Great concept, but too time consuming.
  • Allowing students to take more than two skills during a before school, during lunch or after school reassessment.  Since most come to reassess during lunch anyways, there isn’t enough time for students to take more than two skills.  I tried 1st and 2nd quarter with no limit, but then the end of lunch would come and I would hear “I didn’t finish, can I finish during class?” UGH…no way.

What I know I can improve on

  • Keeping track of which reassessments a student has taken. I have multiple reassessments for each skill, but when a student comes to reassess, I usually ask them if they’ve reassessed before and which skills.  I was *usually* able to provide them with the right skill quiz, but sometimes students did reassess the same skill quiz more than once.  Either I need to try Fawn’s Mailing labels for reassessments or something else.
  • Going over the quizzes when I hand them back.  Students sit in groups, so they learn at the beginning of the year that they need to dialog with each other, but when it comes to quizzes I find that they don’t like to say they didn’t understand a certain problem. I need to find a better way to make sure I am going over the questions on the skill quizzes when they are handed back.
  • Provided more written feedback on their quizzes.  I did a decent job during first quarter, but slowly, slowly it disappeared as the year went on.  I KNOW that it is important, but it was one of the easier things to let slide. No more! I plan to provide helpful, meaningful feedback on skill quizzes this year!
  • Explaining the system better to parents at the start of the year. I am the only one who grades this way in my building, so it is all new to parents whose “child has always gotten A’s in math”. I need to find a better way to explain. I’ve used Angry Birds as an example to help, but I need to improve it a lot.

What I’m still thinking about

  • Allowing those students that mastered ALL skills for the quarter to be exempt from taking my Quarter Skills Final. I allowed this during 3rd and 4th quarters this past year.  I thought there would be more students mastering, but it wasn’t as many students as I thought it would be (maybe 4 per class of 32) and why not reward them for working hard through the quarter and above and beyond class time? But I wonder if it defeats the purpose of the Quarter final to work on retention of material?
  • Do I even do a quarter final this year? (see below as well) The district curriculum committee has written unit tests for each unit, if I have to give those, I don’t see a huge quarter final being able to fit in.  Since this is a sophomore level course, the 8th grade students will take semester finals during 2nd and 4th quarter as it is.
  • Reassessment deadline. It’s usually the last Monday of the quarter for any skills during that quarter, but this sometimes causes students to wait until the last minute to master a skill from the beginning of the quarter.  If I have to give the district created Unit tests, maybe the deadline would be by the next unit test? Or two weeks after a unit test?  Just thinking aloud here…
  • Incorporating the Math Practices and 21st Century Skills into SBG, specifically the gradebook. I want to, I just don’t know how.  I tried 21st Century skills last year and those didn’t make it past the first quarter. What if the students graded themselves on the Math Practices and 21st Century Skills?  That would make it easier to keep track of AND allow discussion between the student and myself. Hmmmmm….
  • Meeting with each student at mid-quarter and end of the quarter to discuss together what grade they think they earned. I have read this in a few different places and I think it would open to some great discussions.  But will they be honest? And is this really preparing them for the rigors of high school? And where will I find the time?

What I’m at a loss on

  • Starting SBG over after 4 years of using it in Algebra and trying to apply it to Geometry.
  • Writing questions for Geometry. Writing the questions for Algebra and Pre-Algebra over the years was easy because I’ve been teaching it for so long I knew the types of questions I wanted them to know.  I want SBG to work in Geometry, but I am scared to mess it up because I don’t know the content well enough to be able to level questions and know what is really important enough to quiz on.
  • Creating a Skill Checklist for Geometry. Same reasons as above.  I have a bunch from online, but I also have to keep up with my district’s curriculum and common core.
  • The district curriculum committee that just finished the Geometry curriculum and rewriting it to Common Core has also created Unit tests.  How do I implement those tests with SBG? I haven’t given a unit or chapter test in years.  Do I give it and grade it as a test in the gradebook? Do I give it and grade it as separate skills?
  • Homework. I haven’t graded it in years, but I also haven’t checked it frequent enough to keep students doing it.  Just like a new post I read from An Old Math Dog Learning New Tricks, I don’t think practice should be a part of their grade, but I am starting to feel as though middle school students need a little more of a push in regards to the importance of practicing their math. Some students get that if they practice they will pass the skill quizzes, but others think they don’t have to do the practice to be successful. And the high school has mentioned that many new freshman struggle with getting assignments in on time (they come from 7 different middle schools).  Do I create a responsibility standard in the gradebook and use that for homework where a percentage done during the quarter equals a 2-1-0? Or like a comment on that same blog post, will my gradebook allow me to continue using weights when grading and make HW a 0% weight, so it doesn’t affect the grade, BUT it is visible in the gradebook for parents, students and myself to see their HW completion?

I really enjoyed putting this reflection together, especially since I will be essentially starting over with SBG next year with Geometry as my new teaching assignment.  This is really going to help me remember what I liked and what I want to change as I forge ahead into new territory!

Thanks again to Fawn for reflecting on her year of SBG and inspiring me to do the same!

 

My Summer To Do List

Phew! What a whirlwind the end of the school year was! I’ve been out just about two weeks now and already it feels like it has been months…I love that feeling!

I wanted to document my summer to do list to help me accomplish more of the things on it.  Sadly, due to changing the classes I am teaching and a few other things, I will be doing a lot of work this summer! No summer off for this teacher! (Does any teacher ever really have the summer off?) 🙂

Books To Read

  • Making Thinking Visible  – started, just need to finish
  • Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess – somehow I missed joining the Twitter discussion about this, but I am looking forward to reading it!
  • Embedded Formative Assessment byDylan Wiliam
  • Measurement by Lockhart
  • There were a few other titles flying around the blogs and twitter, but I can’t remember them, so this is my list!

Curriculum to work on

  • Geometry – I need to look at the new Geometry Common Core Curriculum that my district put together and see how it lays out in the year. Geometry is brand new to me and because I will be teaching gifted students (2 years advanced in math), I am thinking the classes should be more like an Honors course, rather than the regular curriculum.  I want to go more in depth, more discussions, more discourse, more debates.  I want to find resources to add to my lessons, things like 3 Acts, Algebra Review Warm-ups, Estimation, Cooperative Learning, etc.  I want this class to be challenging, interesting and fun and I feel the more I can find and prepare now the better off I will be.
  • US History – I get to teach 2 sections next year, which I am fine with (I’ve been teaching one section for the past 11 years). But I’ve wanted to change a few things for a while…shorten the Colonies Unit maybe with a project (We start with Colonies and go through present day.), which gives more time for WWI or WWII.  I want to figure out how to incorporate Current events better…I’ve tried and failed miserably in the past.  I want to incorporate cooperative learning activities, debates and interesting/fun projects, etc.  We do sort of plan history as a grade level and as a team, but we all still do our own thing.
  • Advisory – Advisory is going to be different this year since it is at the beginning of the day instead of in the middle of core time.  I want to loosely lay out a few of the units we have done as a grade level in the past and weave in a few other things.

Classroom things to work on
I have a new room next year too and we share rooms, so I want to figure out how to organize all my stuff.

  • Go through my MOUNDS of stuff and PURGE! I know I have things I can get rid of…I just need to do it. Why is this so hard for teachers to do?
  • Update some of my signs and stuff to say Geometry and not Algebra

Interactive Notebooks
I started last year and can’t imagine not using them in Geometry. I just need to find resources! I need to get as far ahead of myself as I can.

  • Find or create foldables for Geometry topics
  • Left Side ideas – I STUNK with this last year, improvement is necessary.
  • Vocabulary – going to create a glossary in the back of the ISN using Frayer models folded in half. I think we can fit 6 per page. This means I need to know AHEAD of time how many vocab words we will have. **Need to create/find a list of Geometry terms
  • US History ISN foldables and resources…I kind of want to do them in History too, just not sure this will make it off the to do list.

Standards Based Grading
I have done this for 4 years now and I believe in it. I am nervous and scared to figure out how to apply this to Geometry in my first year teaching it.  I do not know anything about pacing of curriculum or levels of questions, etc.

  • Find SBG Geometry resources online
  • Look at district teacher’s chapter/unit tests from previous years
  • I want to use the Common Core standards when labeling skills/standards, so I need to figure that out.

Dang.  I thought my list was long, but didn’t realize just how long until I typed it all out.  It feels really ambitious right now, but it all has to get done at some point…I have more time this summer than I will when school starts.

Wish me luck!

 

When is failure okay?

Is failure even okay anymore?  Does it teach a lesson? Or does the non-failure teach a better lesson? Whose fault is failure…student? teacher? other outside forces? I have these questions and more swirling around in my head.  It’s Friday, it’s been a very long day and I am attempting to put together something that effectively gets my thoughts, questions and feelings across.  I won’t get into the nitty gritty behind why these questions are at the forefront of my mind, but I will just say it’s not a good reason and made me very sad this morning.  Bullies do still exist in the adult world and it’s not cool.

Background: I use SBG and have been doing it in Algebra for 4 years. I’ve used it in Pre-Algebra for 2 years, but with Common Core this year I’ve only been doing it here and there this year because I’ve been spending too much time figuring out new curriculum design.  With that being said, all of my students are comfortable with SBG and what it means.  I am the only one using it in my building, though an ELA teacher uses it for one aspect of her class.  While explaining the grading at the start of each year can be rough on parents and students, eventually they do understand the grading and why I do it this way.  I have used the Angry Birds comparison that I found online from one of you. (post link to that here).

I truly believe that SBG is the way to grade and will not go back.  I love the conversations that I can have with students about their understanding of a specific topic.  We can address that they understand the concept but are making small algebraic errors or we can discuss their lack of understanding of the concept and identify the areas of confusion to put together a way to reteach/practice the concept.  They know what they know and what they don’t.  They reflect on their learning and know the steps they need to do to more forward.  They get frustrated when they make those small errors, but push themselves to practice and reassess.  The students feel supported and know that I will do whatever it takes to support them.

What I do: Students are allowed to reassess any skills throughout the quarter as often as they want in order to show mastery.  However, they do have to sign-up to reassess and bring proof of further practice of the skill they want to reassess.  I have learned (the hard way) that this is the way to go.  I had students in the past reassess and reassess without any practice thinking that the continual retakes would help them learn and eventually they would pass.  Kind of like the book under the pillow to study. 🙂  It didn’t work (go figure), but was a huge strain on both students and myself. Having them bring the practice is great because I can look over it before they reassess to make sure they are on the right track.

In my class, students must master each skill twice (or two 4’s) in order to master the skill.  At that point the grade in the gradebook will equal a 100% for that skill.  I offer 6 assessments on each skill throughout the quarter in class; there are 10-12 skills per quarter.  Anything they want to reassess above and beyond that comes from them and will be before school, during lunch or after school.  Doing it this way I feel helps to promote student responsibility in two ways…either they will work to master it in class by practicing and studying for the skill quizzes or they will work to master it on their own time because they want to get a skill “done” or needed a little extra help.  I do not view the help or reassessments outside of the school day as being bad, I see it as a way for students to realize when they need additional help and find ways to get it.  I do, every once in a while, require students to meet with me during lunch because they fell into my Red Zone on a skill.

Homework is not a grade.  I always struggled with what to do with homework as a beginning teacher and now that it is not graded I love it.  And guess what? The students still do their homework! I do check it daily (or have a student check it daily)to keep track of who is doing it, but that is for my information to help stay on top of a student who is on the verge of struggling.  If a student misses 3 homework assignments in a week or in a short time span, I will talk to them about it and make a note in the gradebook notes section that students and parents can see.  If they continue to miss their homework, they have to meet with me during lunch to work on it.  I do this in advance of the skill quizzes in order to help them before they may struggle.  Keeping track of homework completion is also helpful when talking with students about their skills mastery and when talking to parents about their student.

My Frustrations: I wish my gradebook system didn’t require my skills to be graded numerically.  That is the most confusing part to students and parents because we don’t have a normal grading scale (it’s higher than most), so when students haven’t mastered a skill, their “grade” in the gradebook looks pretty bad until they improve.  If I could grade without numbers and with proficiency levels, it would be fantastic.  Every year I work to teach my students that grades don’t matter, it’s their understanding of the skills that do.  Typically the students understand and it takes the parents a little longer…see my blog post earlier about a parent email related to this.

What do I do with the student who doesn’t care? Who doesn’t do the homework, doesn’t prepare for skill quizzes, doesn’t take advantage of reassessments, doesn’t take me up on my offer for help during lunch? I feel that it is HARD to fail my class with all of things I have in place, so what do I do when a student does fail? Obviously there is parental communication, but what else can I do?  When does the responsibility fall back to the student? When is it the student’s choice that is causing their failure?

The conversation that I had with my Admin today was one of having too many D’s or F’s.  Mind you I don’t have any F’s and had 5 D’s total from my 4 math classes (2 Algebra and 2 Pre-Algebra).  The conversation was one of what can you do differently to reach these students because clearly what you are doing isn’t working.  FIVE D’s???? I think my head almost popped off my body.  Here was my admin telling me I wasn’t doing enough to reach all students.  Really? Besides what I listed above, in my short 42 minute class, I do a lot of small remediation groups, 1-1 work with students, video chats on the weekends and review of topics with those that need it.  I was made to feel that my offering before school, after school and during lunch help and reassessments was implying that I wasn’t doing something in the classroom correctly. That it was bad for me to offer these things.  I was asked what I was going to do to change those grades from D’s to something higher.  WHAT? What about asking the students what they are going to do?  What about asking the students if they took advantage of any of the hundreds of options they have available to them?  Why was I made to feel that a D was an unacceptable grade and I shouldn’t allow it?  I was told that I should really be reflecting on myself and my teaching to make improvements because I must be doing something wrong.  I have thought long and hard about it…I think I am going to talk to my admin on Monday and ask what else they would like me to do (after listing everything I am doing) because I am at a loss as to what else I can be doing. I teach topics in multiple ways with different examples, the students have ISN’s filled with notes, examples and reflections to fall back on.  My students and I have a great rapport, we have fun, we talk about the ups and downs of life, we challenge ourselves with the math we do and we like it. And guess what? They learn in my class, they ask questions in my class, they want to know more about what we are doing and they help each other.  It’s been a great year and has allowed me to reflect and learn about what it truly means to be a teacher in this day and age.

The Irony: On Wednesday of this week I found out that instead of teaching 8th grade Algebra (Accelerated class) and Pre-Algebra (Regular class) next year (like I have for the past 11 years), I will be moving up to 8th grade Geometry, which is the best of the best…the gifted team.  It’s supposed to be a compliment to be teaching those students because they require so much and so much different than what I am use to.  However after leaving my meeting this morning with my admin, I was questioning why they would place me there if I had “SO” many students struggling in my classes; if I clearly didn’t know what to do to reach my students, why was I being moved? I felt as though I wasn’t good enough to be moved to teach those students. I don’t think that a teacher should ever leave a meeting feeling as though they aren’t good enough.

So what is the answer?  What does failure mean today? I am getting the feeling that it means that the teacher didn’t work hard enough and let the student slip through the cracks…at least that’s the impression my admin gave.  I don’t agree with that answer, but I am now not sure what the answer is.  I agree with SBG and students showing mastery, but I also believe there needs to be a deadline at some point, in order to hold them accountable, to work on responsibility, to allow them to move on.

Does your school allow students to fail? What things do you have in place to help them if they are struggling? Is there a lesson to be learned from failing and struggling?  I posed the question on Twitter on Friday because I needed to vent and see what other teachers and schools do.  The responses were great and now I just need to figure out how to move forward. How to move past how my admin made me feel, reflect on it and make sure I never make anyone student, parent or teacher ever feel that way. And to think about what else I can do in the classroom to reach all students.

End of Quarter Frustration

I’ve been teaching 8th grade for 11 years, I also taught 6th and 7th one year each before that.  I love teaching 8th grade, mostly the content, but also the ability to joke around, talk to and get true honesty from my students.

I love SBG. I feel that it has value and I have seen the improvement in my student’s understanding overall.  Since I teach 8th grade, however, I do have to have quarterly cutoffs due to report cards.  So have my SBG system set up with certain skills each quarter and a quarter final at the end to work on long term retention. I allow my students to reassess skills throughout the quarter until around the Monday of the final week of the quarter.  I like to cut it off then so they can focus on the final and so I can grade them and get them in the gradebook in a timely manner.  It NEVER fails that they wait until the VERY last minute to reassess and try to do it without practicing.

However, I DISLIKE the end of the quarter time.  I wish we had semesters like the high school, especially since I teach a high school level course (Algebra 1) to my accelerated 8th grade students.  I use SBG and it would be much easier on myself and the students if they had longer to reassess and build skills together.  This quarter I offered my students the ability to NOT take my 3rd quarter comprehensive final if they mastered all of the 3rd quarter skills.  I was surprised at the number of students who achieved it and annoyed at the students who waited until the last minute to try. I do not offer extra credit due to the nature of my classroom and the ability to reassess as many time as they want.

I guess I am a little disappointed that while using SBG, it still comes down to grades, not the overall learning that I have been stressing all year.  Isn’t it more important that this student learn and understand the skills and concepts from Algebra, rather than have a certain grade for the honor roll award?  I WISH that my district required gradebook allowed for gradeless grades, where feedback was more important and there was no visible overall grade.  I also wish I could use any gradebook of my choice, which I cannot.

Any suggestions?

Open House/Curriculum Night

This year we are doing an Open House format for our yearly Curriculum Night (some of you may call it Parent Night).  In the past the parents have followed their child’s schedule, where each class was about 10 minutes long.  I never felt as though I had enough time, they would leave the class before mine late and then get to my class late and I would then have 8 minutes to spew all of the information that I knew they were looking for.  I would do that five times throughout the evening and have little voice or energy left at the end of the night.  This year, at the prompting of a few 8th grade teachers, we decided to try something new and do an Open House format.  This will allow the parents to move freely throughout the school to their child’s teachers.  I like this format because every year the parents said they didn’t have enough time with each teacher to get what they felt they needed/wanted.  Many parents duck out after seeing the one or two classes they really wanted to see or many left early because they just got tired.  I think this format will work well, but I am VERY interested in seeing the comments from the parents afterwards.  The main difference I have seen so far is that the Open House format seems to require more front end work to prepare, but I don’t imagine I will leave as tired and drained as in past years.  We will see…it’s Monday!

Basically I have spent a very large part of my weekend figuring out what I was going to have set up in my room for parents.  I envision smaller “stations” of information that I would have in the past spewed at them and handed out in a packet format. Using my classroom desk set up in 8 groups of 4, I will have the following stations set up (About Me, Procedures/Grading/etc., Example Task and High School Placement information), where each station has two areas set up…so only 4 stations.  I will be the 5th station, should parents want to introduce themselves or talk to me.  My main concern is having the confidence to let a parent know that there are other parents waiting and asking if I could contact them tomorrow to finish our discussion. I have said it a few times to other teachers and it seems easy enough, but in the situation it is so much harder to get out of a conversation and move on to another parent. Since I teach 130 students, it is possible that there will be a lot in my room at one time; I hope that the station format will help because they can visit in any order and can visit a station (or go to another classroom) if there are a few waiting to speak with me.

Let’s walk through my Open House set up (this is also so I can make sure I’ve got it all figured out). 🙂
(On our letter home about it last week, at my request, we did ask that they bring a Smart Device if they had it.)

Outside my room – The document below posted outside my classroom, saw an example on Pinterest but it wasn’t linked to any specific blog.

Entrance – Have a half sheet 2 sided handout that explains what information is at each station and contains a sentence or two about talking with me and courtesy to other parents or something along those lines.  On the back will be more QR Codes with links underneath for those without a smart device.  There will be codes to my Remind101 class signup, set up as a text message to send (there will be 4 on the sheet, one for each math class) and the other code will be to my song that I spent a good part of yesterday creating.  Because I was working on that and not the other million things I had to do, regardless of my lack of ability to sing, I am posting it for you all to hear and it will go home with the parents. It might just be a disaster, but I had fun coming up with the lyrics. I want to create a video for it, or even a powerpoint with the words, but that is last on my to do list for tomorrow.  If it doesn’t get done, at least they get the song. http://bit.ly/Q8tgR6

Projected on my Smartboard – I will have a single file welcoming parents and stating my name and what I teach each period.  I will also have my contact information on this slide for those without a smart device. (My contact information will also be on my main handout)

Station 1 – About Me – I will have a half sheet copied with the same quiz I gave the students all about me. (Idea came from the Middle School Math Wiki – http://msmathwiki.pbworks.com/f/Pop+Quiz+-+First+Day.pdf) I will have the answers in a QR code taped to the desk or the wall behind this station and a note to have them ask their student (if they don’t have a smart device) because we did it on the second day of school and they should remember the answers.

Station 2 – Procedures/Grading/etc – I couldn’t come up with anything fun/different for this station, so it will be my main syllabus type handout.  Since I don’t hand out a syllabus to my students, this is my main way of communicating information about my classroom to the parents. I will have my example ISN & grading rubric on the desk along with an example graded (with feedback) skills quiz. I will also have out the supplies bin that I provided each group, so they can see it. I think I may make a request for scotch tape at this table too…these ISN’s are going to eat up the tape because students do not have any idea what it means to use a SMALL piece of tape!  There will be a QR code for parents to scan for the document, if they would prefer that method.

Station 3 – Example Task – I want to provide the parents with a window into the world of Common Core tasks and the group work that I expect of their students.  I thought that I would have two different short tasks for them to do, one more in line with my Pre-Algebra (Grade 8 CC) curriculum and one more in line with my Algebra 1 curriculum. It needs to be short and I would like it to be fun.  Do I have any idea what these are yet? NOPE! If you have any suggestions or ideas, please let me know! I will be finalizing this station Monday after school and before 7pm when our Open House starts.

Station 4 – High School Placement Information – Amazingly enough, 8th grade parents want to know about HS placement every year at Curriculum Night.  I will provide them with a flow chart of the HS courses and the placement information along with a reminder of the Explore test days, which is a large part of their placement into HS courses. (We provide HS placements in January, but providing this information now is helpful to the parents)

Station 5 – Me! – I will be standing towards the front of the room, which will allow to me to welcome parents and say goodbye as they leave. And, of course, be available to answer questions and meet parents!

Exit – Socrative Survey – I will have laptops available to complete the survey online or directions so they can complete it on their phone while heading to another classroom.  I will ask Parent Name, Student Name, Parent Email, Did you get the information you were looking for tonight?, If not, what are you interested in hearing more about?, Did you like this format? (A change from previous years), Comments/Suggestions/Questions.

PHEW!! It sounds like a lot, but I really wanted to make it a format where they can get the information they need and want without having to get it directly from me.  We will see how it goes!! Oh and I will definitely have some chocolate candy available as well! 🙂

My Algebra 1 Skills List

I have enjoyed becoming part of the online math world. I have been a lurker for a very long time and have always appreciated how much everyone shares, helps and collaborates with each other.  We have PLC’s in my district and have had them for a few years now. Mine accomplished a lot in the first year, very little last year and this year we are just trying to figure out 8th Grade Common Core and the curriculum that goes along with it that we were given by our district, little attention will be paid to Algebra.  Then again that’s okay in a sense because the curriculum isn’t changing this year.  We don’t know what CC model the high school will move to, which may or may not change Algebra in the future.  Either way, it is kind of refreshing that 2 periods of math a day I know what I am doing and where I am going because it is Algebra 1.  I LOVE teaching Algebra 1.

I adopted SBG a few years back, gosh I think this is my 4th year doing it?  I can’t be sure, it’s all a blur.  🙂  I only started SBG in Pre-Algebra last year and have no idea how it will fit with our new CC curriculum this year, so I don’t want to share that one. Because I teach 8th Grade Algebra 1, I have to fit my skills into the Quarter grading system.  That was the fun part. After my years of doing SBG in Algebra 1, I think I finally like my skills list, which came from many of your lists online, our state standards, the way I intro and explain things and the district curriculum. I want to add more 21st Century Skills because we will be doing more activities that are in line with them, but I decided not to this year.  I am going to try the INB and figured that was all the change I wanted to do in Algebra 1 this year.  Here is my current Algebra 1 skills list, what do you think about it?

I am curious how the INB will go this year and if I will see improvement in their skill mastery.  I am nervous about the INB (in both Algebra and Pre-Algebra) and setting it up, keeping up with it, and being creative enough to come up with good right side stuff for them and good ideas for what they create on the left side.  I am all over everyone’s posts on INB, Everybody is a Genuis, Math = Love, and cheesemonkey wonders I am LOVING all of your INB posts!

I am so happy I jumped on the new blogger bandwagon. Thank you for making me feel welcome on here and on twitter. Have a great Wednesday!