Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ready or Not...

The time has come yet again... time for new markers, shiny floors, and curious teenagers is upon us. Next week marks the official end of summer for me, with kids returning to the classroom on Thursday. With that in mind, it's time for me to put on paper all of the changes I plan to make, mainly so I can come back and remind myself periodically about the goals I had from the summer :)

  • SBG - As any reader of this blog should be able to figure out very quickly, one major change for this year will be Standards Based Grading (SBG) in my Algebra 2 classes. I'm not going to hash it all out again, because most of the posts this summer have been about SBG :)

  • Daily Warmups - Until I started really analyzing my classes this summer, I did not realize how much my daily warmup routine really bothered me! My previous routine was to give a handout on Monday with previous knowledge problems that the kids then turned in on Friday. While it was a great idea, it ended up more as a copy-fest for points :( This year, I am assigning partners based on the seating chart and will be doing problem solving and critical thinking in Alg2, with one day being a weekly multiple choice partner quiz in prep for our state exam. In Stat, they will have a different warmup on different days of the week, but again, they will most be with partners.

  • Feedback - I need to greatly improve on how I communicate to kids on where they are and how they can get to where they need to be. In my mind's eye, I see this happening a lot through "Quick Checks" (a quick HW like problem that they solve and turn in) or "Exit Slips" (a quick journal style prompt). Whatever I end up doing here, these feedback opportunties will allow me to see where kids are at, make comments on how they can improve, but they will not be "scored" in the sense that kids will get a number grade on the top of the paper.

  • Problem-Based Learning - I really like putting my kids in groups to "cuss and discuss" their way through a problem. I would like to gather more resources on good problems for both stat and alg2 that my kids can explore with their partner/groups. I find that in most cases, the discussion that occurs within the groups is way better than most of my lectures :)

  • Writing - I really would like my kids to have pencil-to-paper more often, whether that is working problems in class, a journal prompt, blog "scribes" in stat, etc. I have reaffirmed my belief in how much is learned through writing this summer. I started this blog for my own reflection and though I will never profess to be a "writer", there is something about writing and getting thoughts down on paper that is just powerful beyond words. I want to pass this on to my students as well and help them discover this nugget of truth.

  • Bookclub - One of the most powerful things to come out of this summer was the professional bookclub we started on twitter. We've read "Classroom Assessment and Grading that Works" by Marzano and currently are reading "Formative Assessment and Standards Based Grading" also by Marzano. Our next book is "How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students" by Brookhart. While I love to read, I sometimes find myself putting things off. The bookclub is great for me because it keeps me accountable to a group of other professionals for reading and discussion. Of course, once school starts, our pace will slow down some, but I'm eager to continue learning with this amazing group of people!

I know this year has potential to be very busy and overwhelming, but I'm really excited about the changes I plan to make. This year will pose it's own challenges in terms of budget and morale, but I'm determined to make it a good year and I know with the support of my PLN, it will be!

What are the changes you plan to make in your classroom?

Let's make it a great year or not.... the choice is YOURS! :)


Lisa said...

On my list this year -
--Adding warm ups for all classes but Calc. Still haven't decided what I am going to do about them.
--Notes for my Math 1 kids

Kate said...

On my list this year
- Adding PowerUps (warm ups) to PreAlg & Alg
- Using Mimeo
- Keep up with professional reading bookclub

Jennifer said...

On my list:
*SBG (improve on last year's attempt & stick to it better)
*Writing -- both pencil/paper & blogging for the students--I hope that getting responses from peers will motivate & improve their writing & thought process
*Communicate my plan more often and more clearly to students/parents (be more transparent)
*Improve my "soft skills" --Thanks to everyone who blogged for all the inspiration!

Maria said...


I recently compiled a list of the Top 25 Blogs for math in the classroom, and I
just wanted to let you know that you made the list! It
is published online at

Thanks so much, and if you think your audience would find useful
information in the list or on the site, please feel free to share the
link. The blog is just starting up, so we always appreciate a linkback
as we're trying to increase readership.

Thanks again, and have a great day!


misscalcul8 said...

Your list is my list.

So now you do the work so I can steal it!