Saturday, April 23, 2011

Looking Back... Looking Forward....

It's that time of year where I start reflecting on the past and looking toward the future. We now have one month left of school and a lot to get done in that month. The Algebra 2 End of Course exam is just days away and the AP exam is coming in a few short weeks. The month of April has just flown by and here we are at the end of it!!

Yesterday I got to see my new classroom for the first time. My district is building a new math and science facility and in just a few short months, I will be moving in. It is bittersweet for me - I'm excited to have the amenities that come with the new facility, but very sad to leave my current hall-mates that have helped me through thick and thin. Some of the perks of the new room - a thermostat that *I* can control, lights that turn on automatically when you enter the room, and light controls both by the door and by the teacher station, which will be great for videos, etc, lots of white board space and the ever important storage.

As I look back on this year, here's my list of things that I'm really excited about:
  • Standards Based Grading really worked well for me in Algebra 2. The kids really took ownership of their grades and realized that the important thing was that they learned the material. I am extremely proud of how well my kids adapted and how much they matured over the year.
  • Converting AP to a completely active classroom. I really couldn't tell you the last time I lectured in AP. Instead, I set it up as a lab style classroom where the kids worked daily in groups, really emphasizing that "productive struggle" we keep hearing about.
  • My online PLC via Twitter - I learn so much from these people! From the online book clubs to just having a network of like-minded educators, this has been one of my most rewarding professional activities from the year.
  • Vertical Team - several of my colleagues and I have been working this semester on vocabulary alignment, Pre-AP ideas, and opening the lines of communication, all of which were sorely needed.
  • Overall, because of the things listed above, this was my best year ever!!
Things to think about for next year...
  • Flipping my classroom - making videos to teach, review and refresh concepts from earlier in the year
  • Standards Based Grading for my AP classes
  • Determining which labs were most effective for AP and which need to be revised
  • Integration of articles into my AP classes
  • More technology - in the new facility, we are supposed to have laptop carts in our classrooms. If so, I would like to work more with google forms, wikis, blogs, etc to really integrate technology
  • Pre-AP integration - Assuming that I am still teaching Algebra 2 (we've not gotten our schedules yet), I would like to work on more Pre-AP activities.

It's going to be a very busy summer..


agktmte said...

I am starting the reflectiona and anticipation process right now and am planning on implementing SBG in AP Calculus next year. I've been working on a standards list and think I've got a pretty good idea of what I'll be doing.

I am definitely interested in hearing about how your grading system works and how the parents and students have reacted to it. Hopefully you'll be discussing these things on the 26th.

MizT said...

I'm excited to hear that you will be trying it! The parents and students have reacted very positively. Parent communication is a breeze! Since the grades are now about what the kids have learned (and demonstrated about their learning), it's not a point issue. One thing that I did not anticipate is how few A's I would have. At the beginning of the year, I had a few kids that made comments about turning assignments in for points, but they quickly learned that wasn't going to fly.

I would definitely recommend reading some of Marzano's books on SBG, plus I have lots of posts on here from last summer as well about it. You've already found Shawn's blog and there is a large group of us on twitter that use SBG as well. Join us anytime :)

agktmte said...

But that would require using Twitter; I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet...

That's interesting about the lack of As and probably not something I would have anticipated either. I am interested in seeing the new PowerSchool stuff on the 26th as well to see if there might be some more flexibility for grading this way than the current system has.

I was thinking about using a 4 point scale like a GPA. A skill average of 3.5-4 is an A, 2.5-3.4 is a B, 1.5-2.4 is a C, etc. Rather than converting the 4 point rubric into some percentage scale in the gradebook. But I don't think the current system would allow for something like this. An easy workaround would be to use the total points system but divide by the number of entries/skills rather than the total points possible.

Mimi said...

How exciting! I haven't had time to look back yet on the year. I'll have to do that after the year's through.

Congrats on the many successes of this year! :)