Goal #1 - Thinking
Based on the book 'Why Don't Students Like School', I started this year with the goal of having students do more thinking. Overall, I'm pleased with how this goal is progressing, but I know that I still have work to do, especially as the fatigue of winter sets in. This goal has mostly been focused in my Geometry classes as the AP curriculum already incorporates this goal through rich problems. Here are some of the things I've used:
- Puzzle Place - I started my puzzle table last year in January and while some students knew it was there, most didn't. This year, I have kids that zoom right to it on Mondays and wrestle with the puzzle throughout the week. One thing I would like to do is a "Puzzle Master" poster for students to get a star with their name on it when they've successfully solved the puzzle. I had also thought of making a whole puzzle wall, but that went by the wayside pretty quickly :)
- Rich Problems - One of the things I worked on this summer was developing a list of rich problems for my Geometry class. I have used several at this point with some good success. I introduce most of them with the puzzle mindset and my students have been fairly engaged.
- Find the Flub - This one hasn't happened - YET. However, based on my readings on Formative Assessment, etc, I know this would be a powerful strategy to use, so I need to move it up the priority list.
- Jo Boaler - I started the year in Geometry with Jo Boaler and some of the work from her Stanford Team. I really think this set our year off to a good start with regard to thinking skills!
Goal #2 - Vocabulary
Since both Geometry and Stat are vocabulary-heavy courses, I knew this goal was a must-do. I'm really pleased with how this goal is going so far...
- Info Sheets - At the beginning of the unit (each quiz for Geo / each chapter for Stat), students receive an info sheet with the learning targets and vocabulary. They do a vocabulary knowing rating at the beginning of the unit, then again at the end of the unit. I love when students see their knowledge progressing as they rate themselves! I don't think I use these info sheets to their best advantage, but I do like it better than what I've done in the past!
- Vocab Quizzes - This is one addition that I *really* like! On Tuesdays, our warmup activity is a 'Terms Tuesday', where I give 10 definitions / questions and students write their answer. I've also used things like "What is the formula for....", which isn't so much vocabulary, but definitely essential information! I do think I want to modify this a bit next year so that students track their data and compete with themselves.
Goal #3 - Number Sense
Of all my goals, this is the one I'm enjoying the most! This goal is mostly targeted at my Geometry students, so I need to figure out how to make it more applicable to my Stat kiddos as well.
- Number Talks - This one is a game changer! If you haven't read about Number Talks yet, I highly encourage you to do so! I started the year in Geometry doing these often, but I've slacked off a bit. I need to get back to it!
- Mental Math Challenge - One of the first tasks I had my students do was the "4 4s" problem. Now, each week on Monday, they get 4 random digits and are trying to write expressions to equal the values 1 to 24. The level of creativity I am seeing in their expressions is amazing! I need to figure out a way to do some sort of "creative expression" award or sticker or something.
- 1 to 9 puzzles - My students often get frustrated with these puzzles, but I love the number sense and thinking that happens when I give them a 1 to 9 puzzle and the number tiles.
- Estimate, then Calculate - This is an area I still struggle in. I have not implemented this well and need to look for specific places I can use this strategy.
Goal #4 - Parent Communication
While still not my favorite thing, I am getting better at this one...
- Email Class - This feature on our gradebook system is awesome, even though I haven't used it as much as I planned. My original thought was to send a class newsletter to my parents, but yeah, that didn't happen.... Maybe next quarter :)
- Calling Parents - I have called more parents this year than I probably have in the past 5 years combined! It's been difficult as I rarely have a time without students in my room, but I'm trying to be proactive, both by calling to celebrate successes and to nip issues before they escalate. One thing that I did this year that I really liked was that on the back of my student information sheet, I asked students the question of "If I need to call home, who should I ask to speak to?" - This question yeilded some great information about family situations and gave the students the heads up that I woud be calling home!
- Organization - My goal is to hopefully reach out to every parent this year, so I added a section to my gradebook called "Parent Contact". Mainly, I just printed a copy of my rosters and it gives me a place to document the date and type of contact, such as email, conference, phone, etc so I can keep track of who I've talked to.
Goal #5 - Feedback and Intervention
This goal is about to get its own blog post as this is part of my official evaluation goal... :)
- Homework Reflection - I am *very* pleased with how the Homework Reflection form is going in geometry and I plan to implement it in Stat too. I have already used that data with parents and students when they have asked about their grades and how to improve. I've been able to use the data to pull students aside and talk to them about their study habits and the trends I see. I definitely have some modifications to make, but overall, this is a keeper!
- Red Flag System - One of my summer reads was Robyn Jackson's "How to Support Struggling Students". In the book, she talks about intervention and how to put together a "red flag" system. This is something I want to work on in more detail and hope to have an online book study soon.
- Processing Feedback - This is still an area of growth for me. My kids this year have been GREAT about coming in for extra help and really using the feedback I've given them, but I'm not doing as great of a job of providing time to process the feedback and helping them learn how to use it.
Overall - Good things are happening in my classroom and my students are responding positively to my nagging :) I still have a lot of room to grow but based on the first quarter, I'm excited to see where this year takes us.