Friday, September 13, 2013

#myfavfriday Data, Data on the Wall, Whoo's the Wisest of them All?

SBG is going just swimmingly! I love it and the kids are really doing an excellent job at looking at their scores, seeing exactly what they need help with, and getting the extra help they need.

I wanted some way to show who is showing proficiency/mastery. I thought about charts and graphs, but that's just too difficult when you teach 4 classes of kids. My solution?

First off, how funny is it that my first two blocks just slapped them up there and my third and fourth blocks put them up very orderly?

Every time  a student scores at a proficient level (2.5-3.5), they will receive a sticky note. They put their name on the sticky then put it in the box that is for their class on the wall. When a student receives a 4 for a topic (mastery), they receive an owl (I had these lying around and needed a use for them. Unfortunately, I did not have nearly enough and there should be more in the Green and Purple boxes). I'm thinking at the end of the marking period we will have a pizza or ice cream party for the class with the highest percentage of topics proficient/mastered (not sure how I'm going to calculate that yet, but I have time). I still need to put the title up, but it will say "Data on the wall, Whoo's the Wisest of them All?"

I want to do something more if you gain proficiency or mastery for all topics on a unit test. Since we are using Star Wars on our rubric, I'm thinking "Master all Units you will" and I'll give them Yoda outlines or something. Not sure. Anyone have an idea?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moments of Encouragement

I'm going to be honest. A lot of days, I go home feeling exhausted and defeated not knowing what to do. I teach in a rough neighborhood stricken with gang involvement that is often brought into school. I have 17-year-olds sitting right next to 13-year-olds in my 8th grade classes. The majority of my kids perform 2+ years below grade level. Every day is a challenge. If I had it my way, I'd drop the curriculum and start from the beginning with basic concepts. How can I teach systems of equations when my students can't even add fractions with common denominators?

Every so often, I find a moment that reminds me why I'm here and that even though it seems like I'm running full speed at a brick wall over and over again, my kids are learning.

My fourth block is comprised entirely of students who are overaged. This class also houses all of my EC students. Challenge accepted. Today, while I was helping another student, I heard one of my lower-achieving students teaching one of his peers. He wasn't just telling her "do this, do this, then do that." He was legitimately teaching her. The words coming out of his mouth were the same ones that come out of mine:

"Ok, what do you have to do first? Think about PEMDAS."
"You have a subtraction sign and a negative number. Can you do that? No? Then what do you have to do?"
"Good. Now what do you do when you have a positive and a negative added together? Do you add or subtract?"
"Can you tell me why you think your number is positive? What if we were talking about money? If I still owe you money, shouldn't it be negative?"

I don't know if he knew I was listening so intently, but I was so proud, impressed, etc by him. So much so, that I think I will let that count as his retest for that skill. If you can teach it, you can do it.

Math workshop for the win!!!
Monday, September 9, 2013

Made 4 Math Monday: Hey Miss A! I need to retest!

Just a quick post. Since I gave my first quiz on Friday, there are a lot of kids who want to/need to retest. iPads haven't been distributed for the year yet, and I don't know when they will be, so I made this in the meantime. It is based off of the Google Form I put together here.

I tried to put some humor in it, making light of the frequent "well, you see, what happened was..." that we seem to get from kids all. the. time at my school. Students have to tell me what went wrong, what they did to get more practice, and request a date and time. Only two learning targets can be re tested at a time.

I think re-tests will be short, 3 questions max. 

You can download a generic "Hey Teacher!" form in my TpT store for free here.

Happy #made4math Monday!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

One Week of Notebooking

We started our notebooks on Monday. I notebooked last year, but I never fully committed to it. We didn't start until about October, and my students were not able to maintain self control when they were in groups, so we stopped soon after Christmas and only did it occasionally from then on. This year, we are going full force!

Starting from the beginning...

I think I posted about this in my first post. I got it from Mrs. Hester and it is how we are doing SBG this year. We glued it into the front cover so it is there for easy reference.

Last year, I had the kids count 10 pages at the beginning and start numbering 1-200. That was stupid time consuming. This year, I put this together and I love it. It only takes up one page, I love that it folds open, and I love even more that the right hand pages are in the right hand column and left pages in the left hand column. Win!

We jumped right in to Integer Operations. I thought about putting our syllabus and some multiple intelligence/personality things in, but the LA teacher did the intelligences and we are low on paper, so straight to business. You can download it in my TpT store for free. The notes were fill in the blank and there is space for you to use your own foldable. I drew my number line, but I had the kids glue one in that folds up and goes from -40 to 40. 

LH pages are always hard for me. Last year I had them do a KWL type thing on each page where they wrote the objective and what they already knew before the lesson then afterwards they did a 321 type thing. 3 things they learned, 2 questions they still have, and instead of 1 they had to do a prove it. I would usually give them about 1-3 problems to solve. 

This year, I am going to just have them glue their homework on the left, or at least for now. Anybody out there have some good LH page ideas?

Rational operations were next. I made this foldable too, and you can download it in my TpT store for free!! All of the steps are typed out and there is space for you to put in your own examples.

I like to just write the problems without solving them out so that if kids are absent and using my notebook they have to do the work instead of just copying. I think they get more out of it. I also need to do better at adding color. Last year's notebook was much more attractive looking!

I've seen this PEMDAS organizer floating around a few places. I'll do an update with it color coded and solved out because right now, from your perspective, it doesn't look like it is a useful page. I like that the MD and AS are next to each other to remind kids they go left to right...even though they still try do do M and A before D and S every single time.

We are starting a glossary in the back. I have the unit 1 vocab up HERE in my TpT store. We will put the page number for the ISN in the upper corner. The Frayer model template came from Mrs. Hester.

Last but not least, on the back cover we glued in an iPad login sheet that Christine at The Math Nerdette put together. She works in the same county as I do and knows the pain of kids who cannot remember their logins and passwords to save their lives. Hopefully this will save me from resetting Edmodo passwords one million times this year.

Switching Gears...

I had my first SBG experience this weekend since I gave my first quiz on Friday. I'll post about it more tomorrow, because I'm just a little concerned that I'm not quite on track and hopefully someone can lend some advice!


Thursday, September 5, 2013


We have spent the last two weeks reviewing 7th grade skills, and boy did we need it! As I expected, the kids cannot remember integer rules and think that multiplication and addition are always before division and subtraction. Sigh. I'm torn right now because they need A LOT more review with this, but I think we will have to spiral it in with everything else or I won't be getting into 8th grade curriculum until October.

In trying to use Math Workshop this year and pull away from worksheets and do more activities and games, I developed...

32 cards with all operations for integers and rational numbers. Some are easy mental math, and others are pretty challenging. I also made sure to include a lot of 4(-8) notation to get them used to it. 

The Rules:

Deal the cards between partners. Both partners flip a card at the same time. Students solve both problems correctly as quickly as possible. Whoever slaps the card with the higher value first wins both cards. The person with the most cards at the end wins.

This game can be downloaded from my TpT store for free here.
Sunday, September 1, 2013

Made 4 Math Monday: SBG Tracking Sheet

I know it's only Sunday and I'm a day ahead, but my first Made 4 Math Monday! Hooray!!!

I decided this year that I will be switching to Standards Based/Mastery Grading. I think this will really help my students be more successful, and hopefully I will see a lot less "D's" and a lot more "C's" and "B's."

Homework: I am only checking homework for completion this year. Last year I kind of went back and forth between collecting, checking off on a checklist, checking for accuracy, and just checking completion. This year, I am just walking around with a clip board, stamping with my cool "completed on time" stamp I ordered from Vista Print, and calling it a day. I can't get around giving a homework grade, so it will just be the percentage of homework they completed. Since I'm using math workshop, I am not going to spit out the answers to them. Already this last week they got into the habit of checking their answers with their neighbor's answers and discussing them to determine which is correct and which is incorrect. Any big disputes we do on the board.

Warm-Ups: Again, I'm not collecting these. Warm-ups I believe are more for their benefit. I may change my mind and start collecting again mid-year, but for now, it is just on the board, they complete, discuss with their table, and we go over any that have major disputes.

Classwork: I will pick and choose what I collect here. Since we are 1:1 with iPads, my kids are going to be developing Pod/Vodcasts and Educreations videos that I am going to compile and post on my site (possibly make an iBook out of them too, I haven't decided). Those will be graded. With math workshop being so group-oriented, I think that it is better to focus on the how and why, the thought processes, and working as a team.

Quizzes: I sat down a few weeks ago and broke down everything I'm teaching this year into an original 120 sub-tasks. When I put these into units, it was too much, so I combined some and got down to 95.  I then made this awesome spread sheet for each unit that you can download in my brand new TpT store! WOO! They will keep them in those folders with the metal prongs on their bookshelves with their ISN's.

Each unit has one page with the corresponding task. They will rate it date it when we begin the unit and graph it at that time. We will take a quiz every 3-5 tasks on average (some units are only 4-5 tasks). They will then rate and date again. I will let them retake the quiz ONE TIME and ONLY if they have 80% homework completion. They will have to fill out a Google Form to do this. I'll link that when I have it up and running. They have to prove that they have done something to improve their learning to retake. I like that the graph is evolving, so it is showing "this is what I can do now." The last column with a date and score is for when we test, just to be sure they are at the same level.

Tests: As usual, we will have a unit test. They will rate and date each one after the test.

I'm thinking that as far as my grade book goes, a 4=100%, 3.5=95%, 3=92%, 2.5=89%, 2=84% , 1.5=80%, 1=76% , 0.5=70%, and a 0 is a 69% (we are on a 7 point grading scale). 

I like that they will get a grade per task rather than one grade per quiz. I really hope that I'm right and this will help them. As far as the rubric, I am using Miss Calculate's holistic Star Wars grading rubric.

That's all for now!