Here are my top 3 goals for this year:
1) Implement Standards Based Grading
2) Start and finish the year using Interactive Student Notebooks
3) Revise my use of Do Nows/Warm-ups and stick to it.
1) Standard Based Grading
In a way I was loosely doing this, but did not know it had a name or was such a great thing to do. I would allow my students to retake anything up to 3 times because our online grade book allowed it and I am a true believer in if at first you don’t succeed try again…and again…and again. I also enter grades in according to the common core state standards and the skill the activity was aligned to instead of just Quiz #3. This just made more since to my students and I because they could check their grades and see exactly what they needed to work on.
What needs to change or what I don’t have in place is a solid list of skills my 7th graders will need to master this year, a rubric that should be used, a document my student can use to keep track of their progress, or a student friendly way to explain this to my students and parents. Any help or advice on this would be greatly appreciated.
2) Interactive Student Notebooks (ISN)
During the summer of 2013 I came across three great blogs by Sarah R, Katie, and Sarah H and thought “Oh, yeah! I’m doin’ this!” I was so excited I presented the idea to my middle school team. They appreciated my enthusiasm, but thought it was too much. I couldn’t disagree with them. ISNs require A LOT of planning, extra resources, time, and discipline, but it was SO worth it. My students were actually using it as resource, not just something they write, draw or paste something in and put away. I could see my students using their table of contents to find the help they needed instead of immediately asking me for help. Unfortunately, the idea only lasted until winter break. After my students came back from the break I was on maternity leave. By the time I came back after Easter, most of my students had know idea where their ISN was located and I honestly did not have the energy or motivation to start all over again. This year my plan is to be way more organized. My hope is to have my notebook planned out and completed for the whole first quarter before the year starts on Sept. 2. I also need to decide if I’m going to use tape, glue sticks, or liquid glue this time. Last year I used tape and glue sticks. I felt I was always running out. I also grew very annoyed with my students using the tape to give themselves mustaches and beards (ugh, 😒). What do you think?
3) Revise my use of Do Nows/Warm-ups and stick to it
Okay, so usually I have students complete 3-6 problems at the beginning of class for the first 5-8 minutes of class. The problems are usually a review of what they were supposed to learn the previous day or check for prior knowledge for the lesson of the day. This is okay, but now I want to give it more purpose. So, I stumble onto Elissa @misscalcul8, which led me to Lisa @lisabej_manitou, which led me to Jessica @algebrainiac1. I like how each day they have their students working on something different, but I have questions. Are the warm-ups in any way related to the day’s lesson? Does it have to be? How did you decide on what to do each day? How do you introduce the different topics for each day? Do you collect the sheet every day? Do you go over the students responses every day? How are they graded, if they are graded. How much time do you use for the warm ups?
I think these activities will overall help my students become better mathematical thinkers. I think it will help foster accountable talk and create great discourse amongst. I also think it’s more beneficial than just doing 3-6 math problems every day.
Well, there you have it…my goals for this year. Now that it’s out there there’s no turning back.