Week 32

Now that I've caught up on blogging, I kinda like actually doing it again.

I taught the easy part of scientific notation today, and the hard part (notes) is up tomorrow. Luckily, they have done this before and we just finished our unit on exponent rules, so hopefully we can wrap this up neatly. I like the lessons I've made but it's very much direct instruction and no inquiry, which I am so. so. tired of.

In geometry, this is my surface area lesson which went over like a lead balloon. I hate that class. Hate. It.

My other geometry class just finished sin, cos, and tan, and bombed the quiz. Three people got an A and the rest were below passing. They had 10 minutes to do 10 multiple choice questions and then the rest of the time to work in partners on 9 problems. I even allowed them to come in throughout the day to finish or correct. And they got to use notes. The three that came back are the three that got A's. So today I went through every single problem and worked every step out. I told them they could correct their quiz and use it tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm giving a totally different quiz to anyone who wants to make it up. The condition is, it can't be made up during class. They have to come in on their own time. I feel like they need to be responsible for learning and getting a better grade. But what worries me is if they all fail again, then I can't just move on with them not understanding. Can I?



  1. Your last idea here strikes at the core of math ed. I'm pumped to see that you've got standards-based grading on your list of to-do's, because it's the best way I've seen to alleviate this problem. I think a great shift in philosophy is to stop making the quizzes a gate that, once taken, is forever open or shut. Allow them to circle back as they wish, showing you when they get it or not, and modeling how to remediate missed knowledge. Work these reassessments into your routine. My kids are loving and learning from it.

    Your blog is a great view into your classroom, I really appreciate how honest and clear your posts are. I don't get the opportunity to teach algebra or geometry, so reading this is great!


  2. Thank you! I now have warm fuzzies inside.

    How do I work reassessments into my routine? How do I put the responsibility on them to actually want to improve their grades?

    Right now if a quiz is bad, it's my fault and I should not grade them or curve them or give them all A's instead. That's their view.

    And none of them know how to study for a math test.

    Ugh I don't want to even start listing.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. You're describing my room one year ago. The problem I had was the culture of assessment in my room. Any quiz was final. Even though it was supposed to tell them how they were doing, it was really just me judging them. Perhaps you should give back quizzes without grades on them, just feedback written. Then give a graded quiz later.

    Reassessment can take many forms. You could allow them to come in during a specific time of day. I then pick one of the following things to make them do: 1. Perform a problem I create on the spot. 2. I make them teach me the concept, and I ask pointed questions as if I were a student. 3. I make them write their own problem and solve it.

    You may also include problems from previous standards on quizzes for new standards, and allow the new grades to replace the old ones, thus rewarding studiers and showing non-studiers that there is value to getting better.

    Finally, and for me the biggest switch was calling homework "practice" and refusing to let it come anywhere near my gradebook.

    Hope that helps somewhat. Feel free to ask for clarification. shawn.thinkthankthunk@gmail.com

  5. This question might sound realllly strange - but why is that picture on the bottom right hand corner of the "surface area" lesson first page?

    Also - I am loving the reassessment. After just completing my first year of teaching, what Shawn described was exactly like my room. A quiz or test was graded and given back - end of story. And I HATE that. I am going to make a point of keeping everything in my room a work in progress so that we can all improve instead of fail.

    Now that homework not being graded thing, I'm going to have to sleep on it :)

  6. Mattie,

    The picture is what I call baby trivia. I either put up baby pictures of celebrities or the kids bring in pictures of themselves as little kids and then everyone tries to guess. Loads of fun.

    Let me explain an awesome sports analogy about homework. In basketball, every time a team plays is not a game. Sometimes it's practice. Do we keep score during practice? No. If we do, does it count? No. Practice is improving and making progress from one game to the next. The numbers don't count until the real test: the game.

    And that's what I think about homework. We work together, try new strategies, and practice. And then the 'test' is when we see if the practice paid off. You aren't directly penalized for not showing up to practice, but it makes a different on the test.

    Hope you had a good night's sleep!