9.16.2010

To Current and Future Administrators:

People skills MATTER.

9.05.2010

SBG: Algebra Redo

The topics listed under Pre-Algebra are skills I'm hoping my students have, but I'm not assuming that they do. Optimistically, I hope to teach and assess all the Pre-Algebra topics in the month of September. The ones in red are what I've already taught. Although I'm not sure they've learned it. I'm going to spend extra time on this in my Algebra support class and keep spiraling skills through Warm Up problems.

PreAlgebra
  • Operations Using Whole Nunbers Fractions, and Decimals
  • Square Roots
  • Exponents
  • Scientific Notation
  • Ratios, Proportions, and Percent
  • Linear Equations with One Variable
  • Absolute Value
  • Simple Probability

The topics listed below are the heavy hitters. Now what do I do with them? Do I break them down into more specific skills? Or should I list what they should be able to do? I want to make a new skills list that isn't 95 skills long. These are ACT topics and earlier this summer I listed the specific skills from the ACT College Readiness Standards. Should I just use those, or modify, or...what?

Elementary Algebra
  • Functions
  • Polynomial Operations and Factoring Simple Quadratic Expressions
  • Linear Inequalities with One Variable
  • Properties of Integer Exponents and Square Roots

Intermediate Algebra
  • Quadratic Formula
  • Radical Expressions
  • Inequalities and Absolute Value Equations
  • Systems of Equations

Now for the actual assessing.

I haven't actually used my idea of exit slips. I think I have to. I'm not assigning homework. They are doing problems in class and I am checking and giving feedback, but I think they need more specific attention/feedback. Ideally, (and hopefully I can achieve this next year) I'd like to be able to make my Exit Slips ahead of time for the week. I could put 2 on front, 2 on back, grade and return each day and that is an instant study guide, in addition to the notes worksheet. And if I could create my assessments ahead of time, that would guide the problems I put on the Exit Slips. Unfortunately, I'm  still at the newb stage where planning ahead is at most 2 days at a time. Last year I planned the next day and that's it. Now I can do 2-3 days, so I am making progress. But at least I have decided what to do and I can now more efficiently work on how to do that.

I think I have decided that my actual SBG quiz will be 2 problems per skill, 1 easy and 1 hard. But I will assess each skill twice: one the current week and once again the next week.

My attempt at a grading rubric follows.

C = Correct
P = Partial
I = Incorrect

Easy Hard Score  Percentage
C       C       4            100%
P       C        3.5         95%
C       P        3            90%
I        C        2.5         80%
P       P        2            70%
C       I         1.5         65%
P       I         1            60%
I        I         .5           55%

To me, it make sense to put more of an emphasis on the harder problem than to give points for any correct problem as in the Marzano 3-level strategy. (At least the way I understand it.)

The easy problem will be straightforward plug and chug. The harder one will be...I don't know yet? Adding in more steps? Word problems? Short answer? Construction?

Input needed.

P.S. I now realize that this is what I should have spent my summer doing. I literally did nothing this summer. I think next summer I will create a pacing guide for myself! lol Or get a job. Or both.

SBG: Back to the Drawing Board

Everyone has told me to narrow my SBG list, cluster it, separate by topics, etc.

I'm an Illinois girl which means we have vague state standards, we're assessed on ACT College Readiness Standards, we recently agreed to Common Core Standards,and basically have to decipher this on our own.

I have decided to go by ACT Standards until Illinois gets smart enough to write their own state test, which will take at least 3-4 years from now. So using a very helpful ACT resource book, I've listed all the topics addressed in the ACT.

Now I just need help deciding which topics fit specifically into Algebra 1 as opposed to Algebra II.

Once I get those nailed down, should I list the prerequisite skills needed? How specific should I get?

How do I assign grades on topics instead of skills?

Or maybe I could break down the topics a bit more specifically and use them as shorter skill list?

Remember, Dan Meyer pulled it off in 34 standards people!


ACT Math Topics

PreAlgebra
  • Operations Using Whole Nunbers Fractions, and Decimals
  • Square Roots
  • Exponents
  • Scientific Notation
  • Ratios, Proportions, and Percent
  • Linear Equations with One Variable
  • Absolute Value
  • Simple Probability

Elementary Algebra
  • Functions
  • Polynomial Operations and Factoring Simple Quadratic Expressions
  • Linear Inequalities with One Variable
  • Properties of Integer Exponents and Square Roots

Intermediate Algebra
  • Quadratic Formula
  • Radical and Rational Expressions
  • Inequalities and Absolute Value Equations
  • Sequences
  • Systems of Equations
  • Logarithms
  • Roots of Polynomials
  • Complex Numbers

Coordinate Geometry
  • Number Line Graphs
  • Graphs of Points, Lines, Polynomials, and Other Curves
  • Equation of a Line
  • Slope
  • Parallel and Perpendicular Lines
  • Distance and Midpoint Formulas

Plane Geometry
  • Properties and Relations of Plane Figures
    • Triangles
    • Circles
    • Rectangles
    • Parallelograms
    • Trapezoids
  • Angles, Parallel Lines, and Perpendicular Lines
  • Translations, Rotations, and Reflections
  • Simple Three-Dimensional Geometry
  • Perimeter, Area, Volume

Trigonometry
  • Basic Trigonometry Concepts (SOHCAHTOA)
  • Advanced Trigonometric Concepts (Secant, Cosecant, Cotangent, Pythagorean Identities, Trigonometric Identities, Double-Angle Formulas, Half-angle Formulas)
  • Radians (Conversions)

9.02.2010

SBG: Frustration

Ugh.

I am so frustrated with myself. I guess I am guilty of just jumping onto the SBG bandwagon and now I am dragging behind the wagon and hitting every pothole. That is filled with mud. And pebbles. And maybe some quicksand.

SBG just makes so much sense in my analytical brain but the concept is still not sinking in. It's not changing my teaching yet. It's merely pointing out how much my teaching and question writing and grading and assessing suck. But I don't know how to fix it.

I'm using ExamView to write my quizzes and I'm picking 3 levels of Bloom's to use on the assessment: application, synthesis, and analysis. Here is my sample quiz for the distance formula and midpoint formula. The 3 levels are there but do they make sense? Some twitter people responded with:

mathhombre @misscalcul8 maybe a line w. slope=1 so tempting to count dots; don't get how #6 checks objective. (Midpt means =, but buried in there)

mathhombre @misscalcul8 Maybe A=(2,3), B=(5,1). Find the distance from A to C if B is the midpt of AC. Allows multiple methods.  
  
mdsteele47 @misscalcul8 Good start, but those are all procedural questions. There's nothing that assesses what they understand conceptually 

On #6, midpoint means a segment is cut into two congruent halves and you have to know that to set up the equation correctly.

The problem of using one endpoint and the midpoint to find the other endpoint is a good question, but we didn't do it in class so they won't know how to do it.

And how do I assess conceptual understanding? My brain can't think outside of the box that is all things procedural.

Also, I'm reassessing last weeks 4 skills in addition to 2 new skills this week. So with 6 skills and 3 questions per skill, that's 18 questions. Isn't the idea of sbg to have frequent shorter assessments? Should I be assessing after completing one skill? Should I not assess each skill twice? Should I just give one advanced question the second time I assess the same skill? What is the best way to do this?!

park_star  @misscalcul8 give your quiz when it feels natural to do so. it makes marking them so much better :)  

This is good advice, but I can't tell when it feels natural. I like doing it every Friday but the students told me today they felt rushed and like they were cramming while at the same time I feel like we're behind. I feel like I need two spend at least two days per skill: one for introducing, one for mastering. If we do that, I feel like we will never get far enough. But if I am about learning, then rushing through material is counterproductive to that.

Even creating my skills list of things to teach, I still feel like I don't know what to teach. Comparing different textbooks makes me question how deep I should go into a specific skill. One book gives this type of problem, another gives another type. How do I know what is too little and what is too much? I don't have enough experience to know what type of problems aren't as important or what's most important. It took me two class periods just for them to correctly use the distance formula, and that's just procedural.


What am I doooooooooooooiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnngggggggggggggg?

I keep changing the notes we do in class, changing the quiz, and the way I grade. I  think my students have no idea what's going on and neither do I. I owe it to them to find a system that works but in the meantime they have all this confusion to put up with. I'd like to just ask them what would be the best for them but if I don't know, how can I expect them to know? And they aren't mature enough to really answer my questions anyway.


How did Dan Meyer pull this off in 34 concepts and I have over 100? Maybe I will just steal his list and his sample questions and make my life easier!