Sunday, October 24, 2010

I *heart* Fall Break! :)

Whoever decided that teachers and students needed a break in October should be declared a Saint! I love teaching, but after a while, you need some down-time to relax, catch up on sleep, veg on the couch, clean your house, etc. We had parent/teacher conferences on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and then had the rest of the week free - yay!!! Of course, as with every break, I started the week with such great plans to catch up, etc and instead it turned into several days of relaxation and in general, not being very productive at all!

Wednesday after conferences, Partner Teacher and I went to one of the local watering holes and spent the afternoon mapping out the rest of the semester. What a great feeling to know that we have a plan! We've had a lot of success this year, but also some set-backs, specifically in terms of long-term retention. A great example of this was this past week's test :(

Last week, when both of us were gone on Friday, we had assigned this "Partner Problems" Worksheet. The idea was that students could work with a partner and check their answers, but they had to work independently on each problem since the problems themselves are different. On Monday, they had additional time to study in class and then they took a cumulative 9-weeks test on Tuesday. Overall, we were NOT pleased with the scores! Some students did well, some not so well, so both Partner Teacher and I were pretty bummed. After grading the tests, we both realize that we have to work on the retention factor of skills.

Tomorrow, students will be getting a couple of new papers to add to their binders. First will be a test analysis sheet, where they will go through their test, see what skills they really need to work on and see if there's a pattern in their weaknesses. Students will be able to come in to make test-corrections for partial credit, but as always they will need to show evidence of remediation first. This idea came from this week's chapter of #sbarbook on how to give feedback to students. Sadly, I wish I had caught these issues before hand, but I knew that some major issues would be absolute value and parallel/perpendicular lines and tried to warn them ahead of time :( Sigh!

Next, to address the issue of retention, we've decided that the quizzes will have a previous knowledge section that will contain one previous LT skill. We will not tell the students which skill it is, but plan to tell them which quiz it was originally from. This previous knowledge skill will start everyone everyone with a fresh slate for that skill and will be able to be remediated/reassessed like any other skill. I'm still struggling with how to keep up with this in my paper gradebook, but I'm hoping to figure it out soon :)

I would love to hear your ideas on how to increase long-term retention and how you give students feedback on their weaknesses on a test.

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