Saturday, August 21, 2010

What a Whirlwind Week!

Holy Moly - I've already been in school for 2 weeks!!! Where, oh where, did the time go? :)

The Good:
  • During our pre-service days, the meetings were short and time in classrooms was maximized. Even so, I still was in my room until 8pm the evening before kids arrived! Had a meeting with my evaluating principal to fill him in on SBG, just in case of parent questions or concerns, and his response was very positive.
  • On the first day with kids, we did math - it was great!!! The kids responded very positively, realized they would be working in partners and expected to work the whole hour right away.
  • When I did finally go over the "rules", the kids were staring at me blankly when I talked about SBG - so then on Monday, they took a quiz over Order of Operations, Simplifying Expressions, and 1-variable Equations. I did not teach the material at all, just quizzed it (previous knowledge). Went over SBG again and light bulbs started going off - "You mean we don't have to get a bad grade?" was a common question :)
  • When I handed back the quizzes the next day, I was very pleased to see how easy it was for me, the kids, and their parents to see which Learning Targets they truly needed to work on. Instead of throwing away their quiz like in previous years, the kids actually started reworking the problems, trying to find their errors! They got together with other students for help, came up to ask me, etc - SCORE!
  • On a daily basis, we have been giving "Checkpoints" of 2 or so questions from the previous day's lesson in Algebra 2 - it's been eye-opening to say the least. I am grateful for the opportunity to identify errors early on, and the kids know that if they struggled, that's a sign they need to make sure to do the practice problems for that LT, before the LT Quiz.
  • My students have been AWESOME so far in all of my classes. They have been willing to work hard, working problems, discussing with their partner, and overall great in their engagement during class.
  • My adaptation of "Rolling Down the River" for Stats really seemed to work well. I think my kiddos have a better understanding this year of Stratified Sampling vs. Cluster Sampling than ever before.
The Bad:
  • Due to budget cuts, class sizes are pretty large all around. I have 30 kids in my 6th hour Algebra 2! Sadly, many teachers have way more kids than I do :(
  • I did not anticipate the time it would take to grade the first quiz. It took me about 5 hours to grade 55 Algebra 2 quizzes. The next day, Partner Teacher and I sat down to clarify our grading scale to help that issue.
  • I was not prepared for the inconsistency of the student responses for seemingly basic problems - I thought we had done a good job of identifying Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 questions for each LT
  • Writing feedback on the daily "Checkpoints" is also time consuming, but very worthwhile I think. I hope as the year goes on, it will get easier :)
  • A summer storm fried the VGA ports of the projectors in my hallway, so I'm making do with an ancient inFocus and a laptop that is so old, it has an interchangable CD/Floppy drive.
  • I've struggled so far to find my "mojo" - pretty much, I've been planning the next day's lesson the night before - that isn't going to work for me for much longer! :) So if you happen to have some spare "mojo" lying around, please send it my way!

Overall, I've had a pretty good two weeks, but I'm just plain ole worn out. I feel asleep last night at 8pm and woke up this morning at 8am... I'm already ready for Labor Day - I need the break!


Anonymous said...

You go girl! I start Monday, am still not sure of my stats LTs/standards/objectives/whatever, but am nevertheless cautiously optimistic, especially after reading your "the good." The IT guys have assured me that the miscellaneous electronics that nearly fill the room will be gone and that I will have server space by Monday AM when I will at last get to test the software on the computers they will be using. Oh: and I'm told I will finally get keys to (a) the classroom and (b) my office.

But we DO have IT guys, there IS an office, etc., so life is good.

And I will keep looking to you for solace and inspiration!

-- Tim Erickson

MizT said...

Thanks for the encouragement! There were times that I thought "Man, if I weren't so committed to this (SBG), I would give up", but the responses I got from the kids were so positive!

BTW - I thought I recognized your name, so I did a search on the AP Stat Listserv - good to have you around! Love your blog too! :) I think I will use the clapping guy in class :)

Also, I'm not doing SBG in Stats this year, but I'm working on an LT list in there too - I can send you my Unit Assignment Sheet if that helps in any way to see how I grouped them by objective.

-- MizT

Anonymous said...

I like the 'checkpoints' that you are doing. Could you say more about how you choose them?

Lisa said...

Me too on the "Checkpoints." Details please. :-)

Sounds like you have had quite a bit of good. I am anxious to see how my kids respond to SBG also.

MizT said...

@Mythagon and @Lisa...

The "Checkpoints" are what I would have called "HW quizzes" last year. I ask the students to get out a half sheet of paper and then I project 2 problems of medium difficulty on the board...

For example:
Absolute Value Checkpoint:

Kids work the problem, show their work, circle the answer... Then I give feedback (ungraded) and hand it back the next day. So far, it's worked out well :)

JamiDanielle said...

I'd love to throw some extra mojo your way, but I have a sinking feeling I'm going to need every spare ounce. ;)

Lots to celebrate in your early implementation!! Way to go!