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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2010-2011 Wrap Up

There are just some things I want to get down right now. There was less blogging this year (I know...the spirit just didn't move me, as much, maybe I should set up some kind of schedule.)

Things to Consider about Grading
-go back to 5 point scale
-first assessment - feedback only?
-require that homework be done, checked, discussed, etc before reassessment?
-"show me what you practiced" - you must provide evidence of practice before reassessment. at a minimum, corrections on the two in-class assessments  - and the practice problems from that day on the calendar (?)
-summative assessments - all MC questions - every 6-10 weeks
-pare down standards list somehow
-write reassessment questions ahead of time and have them ready
-alternative assessments/reassessments? record themselves solving a problem?

Add to Lessons
-notebook checks and grades for notebook organization
-Discovery Education videos? (we have a subscription, apparently)
-more structure for vocab in geometry
-open notes for quizzes?
-allow single-page crib sheet for quizzes?
-compelling the kids to write more. Don't just tell me the answer, describe how you got it. Describe how you know. Save samples of good and bad writing.

Things I Don't Yet Know the Answer to:
Ways for kids to share their thinking in the middle of class without interrupting the flow too much. Options right now are: 1. Throw whatever they have in front of them under the document camera. Quick but sloppy. They aren't necessarily writing for an audience in their notes. 2. Haul their butts up to the whiteboard to copy what they've already done so everyone can see it. Takes time. That we don't have to spare. 3. Some elegant tech-y solution I haven't thought of yet. (Idea: Poll them early to figure out who has a camera phone on them, and who can text/email an image for free. Go with that.)

Big Overall Thing I Notice about Myself this Year: I used to be the annoying asshole in the group who was always trying to show she was smarter than everyone else. I've turned into the slightly less annoying asshole who's paying attention to actively supporting whatever good is transpiring around her slash shutting up and listening. I like new me a whole lot more than old me.


  1. I don't see how a phone camera is any better than the document camera for sharing stuff. Where is the gain?

  2. The idea is they could snap, send, and poof it would appear in front of us, instead of me having to do the work of messing with the doc cam. Also, they'd have more control an ownership of what they were sharing with the class.

  3. This makes me want to know how you handle cell phones in your classes in general. If cell phones weren't banned in classes as part of a school-wide (actually district-wide) policy, the kids would be texting 24/7 and I'd never be able to get them to focus on math.

    Do you have a similar no-cell-phone policy? If so, how would this phone camera idea work? If not, why don't you have kids texting all the time during class?

  4. We have a "no cell phones all the time unless a teacher gives you explicit permission" policy. So if I see one deployed when it's not part of the lesson, I'm a total obnoxious jerk about it. "I get that whatever you are doing is more important than what we are doing here. No really. I understand. Please leave the room and take care of it, then come back when you are ready to participate. No really. Go." I'm extremely clear about how, by default, they are not to be used/visible/turned on, but sometimes we will use them as part of a lesson. I'm sure it will get muddier if I decide to use them more often in instruction.

  5. I like the benchmark idea Kate. One thing that I am having to figure out for next year is how to have Test grades and Quiz grades in my gradebook, new school. They aren't sold yet (my peers) on SBG. So I have thought about doing SBG for Quizzes and having benchmarks every 3 weeks and count them as test grades.

  6. Re: sharing without wrecking the flow -- this is why I like "personal-size" whiteboards (say 24" by 30"). Between a half-dozen portable whiteboards and the ones bolted to the walls, I can get the whole class working on their own problems. They have a natural tendency to write bigger because it's a bigger "sheet." Want to share? It's already big, and at the front (or can be brought to the front). For that matter, flip chart paper would accomplish the same thing, but my students have some kind of phobia of media that can't be erased.

  7. I love the "homework done, checked, discussed, etc. before reassessment." A colleague requires students to make a "ticket" with 5 original practice problems before students reassess. I require them to take a practice quiz online (through Moodle), but those might not be required if the original practice assignment was examined more closely (or even completed).

  8. I like the "haul their butts up there" option for students showing/discussing their work. I found that once we had established some norms on what "showing work" could actually look like that the messy part of this option began to fade. During the second semester, classwork as a whole improved.

  9. Sorry, I think I mixed up option 1 and 2. Have students take whatever is in front of them and put it under the doc camera.

  10. I've seen literacy teachers use turn-and-talks as an effective method for learners sharing their thinking without too big of an interruption. The idea is to take a minute for the learners to turn to a neighbor and talk about an idea or answer a question the teacher asks. This provides the teacher a chance to eavesdrop on the conversation - a formative assessment that can inform the next steps in instruction. And it offers all learners a chance to have a voice in the lesson.

    I have used this in my math lessons (elementary and college) with success. The key is to provide focus and make it brief - that way they don't get off-task.
    Then I can summarize what I've heard (or ask the learner to share).

    I'm not sure this is exactly what you are looking for, but I think it is a worthwhile strategy to share whenever an opportunity presents itself. I took a shot.

  11. That's an awesome technique, deltadc, so what I'm after is an efficient way to share what the kids are writing and drawing, as well as what they are saying.

  12. gasstationwithoutpumps:
    I don't see how a phone camera is any better than the document camera for sharing stuff. Where is the gain?

    Here's my analysis.
    (1) With camera phone, you have a .jpg file which can now be used in a variety of ways (e.g. edited, embedded in a future PPT, thrown into Notebook or equivalent on the spot, etc.) While same can be accomplished with most document cameras, doing so requires routing the doc cam through computer and proprietary-often cumbersome-software designed by a hardware manufacturer.
    (2) Working with manipulatives such as square tiles? With doc cam, they'll have to be reassembled by the time kids get to the front of the room where the doc cam lives. With camera, they'll be photographed as they are, where they are.
    (3) Working with manipulatives such as cubes? Camera can get any angle. Doc cam hovers a foot above.
    (4) You can only zoom the doc cam out so far. If someone's made something larger than 12 by 12, you can't capture the whole thing. There was a nice little article on some of these ideas in Teaching Children Mathematics recently.

  13. For sharing ideas, I have found a turn and talk the best method, it is quick and effective. In addition, if students talk long enough, you can whip around the room and select students to share to the whole class. Typically, in my class I call it Wingdus and Dingus partners. It is VERY structured at the beginning of the year (I teach Freshman Algebra) and can get looser as the structure becomes habit. To start I have the instructions under document camera:
    W: turn and tell your neighbor _____ (could be "how you are solving a problem OR what you have a question about", "what you are noticing", "what you are succeeding/struggling with", anything that fits what you are doing).
    D: you should be quietly listening to understand, you could be sharing Wingdus's thoughts to the class.
    (1 minute)
    D: share back the big idea that you heard your partner share.
    W: correct them if they heard you wrong, tell them good to go if they got it right
    (30-45 seconds)
    Dingus, please stand, teacher will ask a few of you to share the thoughts to the rest of the class.

    Flip it.

    It is quick, and goes REALLY fast when students are used to it. You can also grab their work and put it under the document camera while the students are sharing out.

    Hope this helps! It can be easily modified to extend and slightly change the focus.

  14. I've been letting students use their iPods, iPads and iPhones (I teach at a low income school, so there aren't a lot of them around, but enough to split them into groups) to snap pics and vids. I then used an AppleTV and Airport Express to let the students Airplay (i.e. "beam") the pics and vids via the digital projector. More explanation of that here:


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