Saturday, June 20, 2015

End of Year Reflections Pt 2 Random thoughts

I've started writing this blog post about 5 times since my last post.  Changing the title and content every time.  To make it easier I'll throw it all together. I will probably blog about each of these in more detail, but I want to get this down so I don't forget!

I have really fallen in love with everything Google this year.  One of the biggest love moments was when my laptop broke and I had to have a replacement while it was out being serviced.  It was wonderful having everything I needed right there on my Drive!
Calendar:  I have started a calendar for both grades and now attach my lessons right to the calendar. Then I share it with my principal, special ed, title 1 and RTI teachers.  Now anyone coming to my room knows exactly what we are working on.
Google Forms and Autocrat:  My favorite creation this year was setting up a form to use for writing lesson plans!  I fill out the information and then using Autocrat merge it into a doc.  So easy!!!

Teachscape/Domain 4- found a GREAT blog that shows how to organize all of your artifacts throughout the year with my favorite thing ^^^ Google Drive!  Here is a link:

Professional Development Plan-This is something that I really love to do each year, but I feel like it gets created at the end of the year and kind of forgotten about.  This year, I plan to print mine out and keep it visible as a reminder of what I really want to accomplish.  I feel like it would be a good idea to have them revisited and discussed at observation meetings with administration throughout the year as well.

5th Grade
Speaking of goals for next year, here is an area I really need to work on.  When I switched grade levels from 7/8 to 5/6 I went from being an 8th grade homeroom teacher to a 5th.  I mistakenly thought that 5th graders were miniature middle-schoolers.  Um NOT true!  These kiddos are still very much elementary students even though they act like they think they are 21.  Over the summer I need to really rethink how I am going to adjust my style for these students.  Also how to help them make a better transition to middle school.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

End of Year Reflections Pt 1 GRADES

I still have almost a full two weeks left of school, but it is the end and as I said before IT came terrifyingly fast.

Tomorrow is the last day for accepting any graded assignments since final grade are due by Monday morning.
This year I wanted to change a lot about the way I graded.  I wanted to only give a grade on how much math the students learned, not participation, or behavior etc.   I made homework 5%, the benchmark exam 35% (this was because I wanted students to take the benchmarks seriously) and concept checks 60%.  My policy was that you could take the concept checks as many times as you needed to.  I thought this would be a wonderful option for my students who struggled and needed those extra chances and time to get it right.  You know who were the ones who really embraced this?  The students who got 90% or even 95% so that they could get the 100%
Still I didn't mind.  What I did mind was that those who really needed the help and the opportunity to retake never did until the end of the marking period or right before progress reports, of course.  The problem was, I didn't put a grade in until they passed which in our system means it looks like you have a really good grade and then boom you are down to a C or if you wait too long you could be at a D or even F!

So, for next year, I'm toying with the idea of setting up my grade book by standards and then assigning points you would have to earn towards that standard.  So for example in 5th grade the standard would be:
  • Recognize that the value of a digit changes by a factor of 10 when it moves by one place value, having a value 10 times greater when it moves left and 1/10 of the value when it moves to the right. Students do not need to extend this knowledge to moving multiple places values (e.g. knowing that moving a digit two places values to the left increases its value 100 times)
I would then make assignment and quizzes for this standard worth a certain number of points. Maybe practice being like 10 points and having 5 of them (homework/classwork) and then a quiz worth 50 points. Then as they are working each assignment will build towards their 100. So a kid who is getting it fast, blows through their 5 practice assignments for 50 points and then takes the quiz and gets 40 something and the grade shows 90+ but a student who needs more help might need 7 or 8 practice assignments and 2 or 3 quizzes to earn enough "points" to get a good grade in that standard.

I'm thinking this is a way to make standard based grading more aligned with the standard grade book.  One of my fears with doing something like this is that even the "smart" kids would have somewhat bad grades at first.  For example they've completed one assignment and got the full 10, when I enter the grade it will be a 10 out of 100 so an F!  I think though with a parent/student conference in the beginning of the year I could explain the method and hopefully get parental support. 

Another nice thing I could do is spiral in standards that we have already learned/practiced so that students would quiz each marking period on them as a part of their grade.  Maybe they just need 20 points on one quiz to show they retained the concept.  

I'm actually really excited about this idea.  It just came to me today and I'm thinking it might be brilliant!  LOL, I guess  you will have to stay tuned while I flush it out over the summer and then hopefully implement and blog about it next school year!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Countdown Is ON!

Every year I am amazed at how fast the time goes.  This year it was seriously on warp speed.  I feel that this was because I changed grade levels and because it was my first born's senior year.
I am excited to say that I learned SO much this year!  Unfortunately, I did not blog about this learning as much as I should have.  I am going to use this post as a reminder to just blog!

I've been meaning to post (gush) about my experiences with teaching Hands On Equations to my 5th AND 6th graders this year.  It has been amazing for both grades and I am so happy that I decided to include my 6th graders in it.
I went through the program a few years back with my 7th graders, but felt they already had too much experience with the concepts presented to really get anything out of it.  I can already see the benefits for my 5ths and 6ths.  Especially my 5ths since we will be learning all about opposites next year and formally introducing equations.  I am also excited for my 6ths since the biggest complaint I hear and had when I taught 7/8 is that they can't add and subtract integers.  Let me tell you that my 6th graders add/subtract signed numbers like it is no big deal already!!!
I make them sign and date a card to keep track of pieces.
Tomorrow we start working with the green cubes and I can't wait to see them really make the connection to the "rules" they know.
I am also looking forward to see how 5th grade does with it.  If I can get them used to these concepts now, a lot of the anxiety will go away in 7th grade (I hope!) 

I know that next year I will be able to refer back to the Hands on Equations to make connections!

18 days to go!