Hello, reader! If you intend to post a link to this blog on Twitter, be aware that for utterly mysterious reasons, Twitter thinks this blog is spam, and will prevent you from linking to it. Here's a workaround: change the .com in the address to .ca. I call it the "Maple Leaf Loophole." And thanks for sharing!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Get Your Hot Fresh SBG Checklists

For the uninitiated, SBG stands for Basing the Grades On Making Sure the Children Get What They Are Supposed to Get. People who are smarter than me have already described it extensively.

All of these were only really tried one time for real because of curricular changes and my-schedule changes. I anticipate people will object to their length. I agree that in some cases, two concepts could be pared down to one. Either I need to do that for next year, or I had a reason. Some of it is just the reality of our curricula - overloaded. Sometime when I was training to be a teacher I was told, "A good teacher is one who knows what to cut." But, I don't know, I wrestle with cutting anything. I have an overdeveloped sense of duty.

The Lists
Algebra 1
Algebra 2 with Trigonometry

More Details
I do about one quiz a week. Sometimes it takes the whole (43 minute) period but usually it doesn't. They see a question about each concept on two separate quizzes. I score them out of five. I give them one point even if they leave a question blank. It makes it easier for me to tell later if they were absent and didn't take the quiz (zeroes) or they just did really badly. So it's like
0 - Didn't take it
1 - Left it blank or wrote absolutely nothing redeeming
2 - Wrote something correct or in the right direction but is essentially clueless
3 - The cluebird has landed, but major conceptual error
4 - Minor conceptual or major computational error
4.5 - Minor computational error
5 - Knows what's up, no kidding.
Our grades are calculated by 1/5s: four marking periods and a regents exam. I tend to cut off remediation opportunities at the end of the marking period for all the concepts up to that point. It just makes sense for us.

The best modification this year was: require that if you are staying after school with me, you are either there to get help, or you are there to re-test. Never both. If you want my help, great, but you have to come back to re-test. Retesting is a no kidding, materials put away, sitting at a desk by yourself with a pencil and a calculator situation. It was a good change because: they are more likely to at least try to do some preparation on their own, and their grade is a better reflection of what they've learned as opposed to what they just stored in their short term memory.

Plans, Big Plans
Be more proactive about insisting students come for remediation. Like, the instant their average goes below 70%, assign them detention if need be. Most kids, once they come in once, they realize how much it helps their grade, and then they take it upon themselves.

Be more insistent that everyone have a place to keep their checklist and graded quizzes from the current marking period. How to do this, I don't know. The worst ones keep all their subjects in a huge spiral notebook, and stuff handouts in the insubstantial pockets in the dividers. What a terrible solution. Pretty soon they can't find their checklist, and they have quizzes everywhere. One step up, but still pretty bad, is a sturdy pocket folder. It's impossible to keep stuff in order. The best would be a binder but I think that's a pipe dream. Kids hate binders. They are that awkward triangle shape, and you can't quickly deal with paper that's not hole-punched. In Geometry this year, I tried individual file folders, kept in the classroom. Organization was better, but they didn't have their old quizzes with them for studying. Major flaw.

That's all for now... I will probably add more to this as I think of it.