SBG: How To Grade

I think my issue with sbg is how to grade.

I know my main problem with sbg is getting students to come in and reassess, but hopefully the conversations I had with 16 parents this week at Parent Teacher Conference will start to move that into motion.

So for me personally it's the issue with grading. I started out doing two questions per skill per assessment. I created my own rubric with a mixture of C's, P's, and I's with the second question weighted more heavily than the first. But sometimes the rubric didn't serve my students well and I couldn't, in good conscience, always stick to it. Which probably implies I need a new rubric.

But as I began to work with my instructional coach and discover second-year-teaching wisdom, I realized you all were right and I was assessing way  too many skills. I started to broaden my skills so that one skill contained baby ones. I suppose you understand what I mean. We also started to look at the ACT and the Work Keys and pulling questions from there so that I could backwards plan my lessons to lead up to hard problems I normally would have avoided asking my students. We've already established that I should plan backwards, I've just started it, moving right along...

So my past couple assessment have only been assessing one skill but I've asked about 8 questions. How do I grade that with a rubric?

Give each question a score 0-4 and then average them together? I thought averaging was the devil...

Grade as usual, giving a certain amount of points for each problem, counting off, and then giving a percentage of points correct out of points possible? My twitter peeps said this puts me back into points instead of levels of understanding. But what if I assigned a range of percents to a rubric, say:

100% =4
90-99% = 3.5
80-89% = 3
70-79%= 2.5
60-69%= 2
50-59%= 1.5 
40-49%= 1
30-39% = .5

But I guess that still isn't providing accurate information to the student because a 73% doesn't tell them what they messed up on.

I previously tried @druinok's idea of asking 3 questions per skill on different levels but that rubric was still confusing to me too.

Am I asking too many questions per skill? How often do you assess and how long are the assessments?

We've been working on developing assessments that come naturally at the end of a small unit. My coach has talked to me about balanced assessments: including some more basic, straightforward questions as well as application, word problem, synthesis type of problems. And I like that. I like the assessments we've been creating but I don't know how to give an overall score when I'm asking so many questions. 

What happens with multiple choice? If they get it right a 4? If they get it wrong is it a 1, 2, or 3?

@dcox gave the advice:  Say you have one basic, one "proficient" and one application/synthesis problem. Students who can do all three =5, 2/3 =4, 1/3 =3. But what if they do 1.5 out of 3, or 2.5 or 3.5? What then? What if they make small mechanical errors that throw off the whole problem? What if they start off well and then nose dive?

It's like no matter what rubric I find or create, when I'm grading, I always find a loophole that leaves me staring blankly at a paper trying to estimate how much they know based on the test and what I see in class.

What am I missing?


SBG: Error Analysis

It's the end of the first quarter. I don't want to give up on sbg just yet. I've got to figure out what's going wrong so I can make this thing work.

I've separated grades in the gradebook according to skill.

I've been giving shorter,weekly assessments addressing specific skills.

Students have their own bubble sheets to fill in so that they can self-analyze what they know and don't know.

I've had 6 out of 68 students come in to reassess.

And 4 of those 6 were girls who had B's instead of their normal A's.

Overall, grades are lower than last year. But I have different students. I'd like to say that the grades are a truer picture of their abilities since I am only grading quizzes but with the rubric I was using, I can't necessarily agree with that.

Pitfall #1: I was forcing my instruction to fit in a quiz every Friday whether or not a skill logically ended that way. It didn't matter if we were in the middle of a skill or not, come Friday, we quiz.

Solution #1: By creating my assessment first, I can expect more out my students since I can plan better lessons. Creating the assessment first forces me to focus my instruction on the skills that are imperative to build up to the same level of ability that the assessment addresses. This way my teaching covers all the needed parts and class logically ends with an overall assessment.

Pitfall #2: It's possible that the students do not have enough independent practice to prepare them for taking an independent assessment. I've been trying new strategies to get away from direct instruction but 90% of what the students are doing is with a partner, in a group, or as a whole class. Maybe I am making it too easy for them to tune out and just write things down without holding them accountable for anything. Also, I don't give homework. If we don't finish something in class, I will tell them it's homework. They don't do it. We finish it in class the next day anyway. The whole idea of not grading homework is to give them guidance and correction through constructive feedback. I have morphed into giving no homework at all which translates into no written feedback until the actual assessment. So the only concrete evidence that they know what they are doing is the few minutes I walk around the room while they are working and give minor feedback.

Solution #2: My instructional coach is advising me to create a chart or some kind of system to check the work the students are doing, even if I'm not actually grading it. I started an Excel sheet where I catalog a C for Complete, I for Incomplete, or a 0 if they didn't turn anything in. This at least gives me a point of reference for discussion with a student/parent/administrator. Another idea I had is to hang up charts (like in Kindergarten or Sunday School) and let a student each day collect the assignments and go mark the C, I, or 0 for their class. That would give the students some involvement and maybe hold them a little more accountable since everyone could plainly see who is completing their work and who isn't. From there I could reward those that constantly complete their homework but I don't really want to start bribing them. Another idea she had is if maybe once a week I randomly checked a couple problems so that students would never know when I would be checking or for what. I really don't want to do that. I just hate grading. I don't want to grade all that and completion grades become fluff.

Pitfall #3: Students are not retaining information. I was doing my best to assess every skill twice in class to help those students who will never come in for reassessment as well as the retention issue. I don't know that it helped other than highlighting the fact that students are not retaining information.

Solution #3: Although I have created some thoughtful ideas on how to summarize my lessons, I have yet to do any. When faced with a time crunch, I tend to want to finish the notes or activity we're currently doing rather than stopping to start something new. I guess the truth is I haven't seen the value of summarizing as a tool for retention. Yet. Also, it seems like a waste for students to do the summary for me to glance at it and throw it away. On the other hand, most of the work we do in class gets less than a glance from me.  Touche. I wonder if my students would be more likely to do summaries if they had laptops to type them on? What I'd like to do is give two problems (preferably on index cards, which I heart!) of homework each day. Surely everyone could manage that. But, I still don't want to grade it. And is 2 problems really enough to aid in retention?

Pitfall #4: Students don't care about their grades. No one wants to reassess. A good portion don't even fill out the bubble chart (skill tracking form) because it's not for a 'grade'. I suppose as long as they are passing, it doesn't really bother them. Report cards come out next week, so I guess we'll see what happens then. We had progress reports at the halfway point of the quarter, but I guess no one was really upset by their grade.

Solution #4: If I knew how to make students care, I could be rich and famous by now.


Octoeber Woes

I have been wanting to blog forever but lacking the time and motivation, I did not. I didn't read any and I only got on Twitter when I was in some type of dire need. My love of teaching has been withering away. This year is much suckier and harder than I remember last year being. Last year, the prevailing feeling was that I had no idea what I was doing. This year my feeling is, I thought I learned what to do and now things are worse than when I didn't know what to and I am too busy to learn anything.

Let's just recap my current frustations.

SBG sucks.

I have been reading other people's blogs that just started sbg this year and how it is more work than expected but soooo beneficial. I am jealous of your juiciness.  I have not had success. I actually kinda hate it. Shhh, don't tell. I have had about 5 out of 70 kids come in for reassessments. Four of the five are geometry students and one.One.ONE was an algebra student. The quiz is clearly labeled with the skill and their score for that skill. Each day in our lesson, I introduce the skill and the skill is at the top of their notes. They don't care that they get bad grades. None of them. And since that's all they are worried about, they aren't even realizing that hey, I don't understand very much.  My quizzes suck. For the most part I give two questions per skill. My past 2 quizzes addressed only one standard and so they each had 8 questions on it. Does that make any sense whatsoever? I'm grading using a rubric but I think I hate it too. I've found myself still trying to give them more points on the rubric if they showed work or 'tried really hard'. I've been using ExamView to create quizzes. I create a bank of all the questions offered for that skill and then I pick the ones that aren't super easy but that I think they will know how to do. What kind of assessment is that? Ugh, I hate it. I am just starting to try backwards design with my coach and hopefully that will solve one of my problems.

I don't know, everything is just sucking. With the creation of my common core pacing charts, my skill list kind of flew out the window which leaves every day up in the air for me. I have not went to bed before midnight the past two weeks and as a result I am cranky and impatient and unforgiving in class because I just want to go home and take a nap. Our coaches are challenging us to implement new teaching strategies that involve more cooperative learning than my default direct instruction and my beloved powerpoints which I was just beginning to master. Every day I have no idea what to do.

I am a firm believer of routines and systems. Currently, I hate my notetaking system, homework system, assessment system, and grading system. Not forgetting my downfall of catching students up who have been absent. I literally feel like nothing I am doing is working. I am working harder and accomplishing less.

I have not been grading homework but my coach has been pushing me toward recording completion, even though I insisted on not giving a grade. I understand that students should be held accountable and I need a paper trail to cover my butt, but right now that paper trail is about 6 inches tall, lying in a chair untouched.

So I am assigning homework and the kids say, 'oh you said we didn't have to do homewoek,  and me correcting them by saying 'no, I said homework isn't graded'. They still don't do it. We spend time doing it in class. Which is whatever.

This blog post is just rambling on with no direction because I have none. I can't even complain effectively.

My coach helped me admit realize that I was rushing to have a quiz every Friday even though the kids weren't ready for it. I liked it just because I like routine. Also because then I don't have to lesson plan for Friday. You know, since I currently hate lesson planning. I currently hate everything. I have no motivation to do anything. Usually I love reading blogs, tweeting, reading pd books, decorating my classroom, and doing fun things for the students. Now, I just want to come home and do nothing. During my plan period last week, I literally sat in a chair and stared out the window for the whole hour because I couldn't even think what I needed to be doing or motivate myself to figure out. Also last week, I feel asleep during tutoring. I only had one student who was studying her terms so I could quiz her for a test. I laid my head down and fell asleep until the principal walked in. Oops.

We have a 4 day weekend and it's Saturday night and I still haven't attempted to do anything related to school. I have a stack of tests to grade and lesson plans for the week to attempt but I. don't. want. to. do. anything. I spent the last three hours catching up on blog posts that just made me feel bitter toward those of you that are enjoying your year and having success. It de-motivated me, if that's possible. This is sad. I don't want to feel this way. I am too young and inexperience to be burnt out. I have already lost my joy of teaching.

One specific class has already ended up being something I dread. I spend most of my time at the board with arms crossed giving them the death stare so they might actually stop talking and pay attention. As I'm writing on the board, I'm thinking to myself, "I hate this class. I hate this class. I hate this class.' And as I engage in confrontational conversations with them, I think to myself 'I do not want to come back here tomorrow. I cannot face them one more time.' And then the next day I come back. I've tried a few investigation-y cooperative learning type things but their behavior and my utter failure at classroom management produces a chaotic mess.

Not to mention all the RTI and 5-step lesson plans and extra meetings and parking lot duty and tutoring and so on that eats up all my time.


SBG Common Core Geometry Pacing Chart

Geometry Pacing Chart
Common Core Standards

Priority Standards in Bold- Priorities are things we will keep coming back to over and over throughout the year and are assessed on ACT.

Note: In order to bridge gaps between Algebra I and Algebra II, the following Algebra I skills will be embedded as much as possible:
• Solving equations and systems of equations
• Factoring
• Analyzing and graphing linear, exponential, and quadratic functions

Quarter I

Foundational Geometry Terms
• G.CO.1 Know precise definitions of angle, circle, perpendicular line, parallel line, and line segment, based on the undefined notions of point, line, distance along a line, and distance around a circular arc.
• G.MG.1 Use geometric shapes, their measures, and their properties to describe objects (e.g., modeling a tree trunk or a human torso as a cylinder).*
• G.GPE.7 Use coordinates to compute perimeters of polygons and areas of triangles and rectangles, e.g., using the distance formula. (Note: Include factoring and systems of equations.)

Parallel Lines
• G.CO.9 Prove theorems about lines and angles. Theorems include: vertical angles are congruent; when a transversal crosses parallel lines, alternate interior angles are congruent and corresponding angles are congruent; points on a perpendicular bisector of a line segment are exactly those equidistant from the segment’s endpoints.
G.GPE.5 Prove the slope criteria for parallel and perpendicular lines and uses them to solve geometric problems (e.g., find the equation of a line parallel or perpendicular to a given line that passes through a given point).

G.CO.5 Given a geometric figure and a rotation, reflection, or translation, draw the transformed figure using, e.g., graph paper, tracing paper, or geometry software. Specify a sequence of transformations that will carry a given figure onto another.
• G.CO.2 Represent transformations in the plane using, e.g., transparencies and geometry software; describe transformations as functions that take points in the plane as inputs and give other points as outputs. Compare transformations that preserve distance and angle to those that do not (e.g., translation versus horizontal stretch).

Quarter 2

• G.CO.11 Prove theorems about parallelograms. Theorems include: opposite sides are congruent, opposite angles are congruent, the diagonals of a parallelogram bisect each other, and conversely, rectangles are parallelograms with congruent diagonals.

Triangle Congruency
• G.CO.7 Use the definition of congruence in terms of rigid motions to show that two triangles are congruent if and only if corresponding pairs of sides and corresponding pairs of angles are congruent.
• G.CO.8 Explain how the criteria for triangle congruence (ASA, SAS, and SSS) follow from the definition of congruence in terms of rigid motions. Include CPCTC.

• G.SRT.2 Given two figures, use the definition of similarity in terms of similarity transformations to decide if they are similar; explain using similarity transformations the meaning of similarity for triangles as the equality of all corresponding pairs of angles and the proportionality of all corresponding pairs of sides.
• G.SRT.3 Use the properties of similarity transformations to establish the AA criterion for two triangles to be similar.
• G.SRT.5 Use congruence and similarity criteria for triangles to solve problems and to prove relationships in geometric figures.
• G.SRT.1 Verify experimentally the properties of dilations given by a center and a scale factor.
o a. A dilation takes a line not passing through the center of the dila- tion to a parallel line, and leaves a line passing through the center unchanged.
o b. The dilation of a line segment is longer or shorter in the ratio given by the scale factor.

Quarter 3

Area and Volume (Focus on real-world applications not simple use of formula.)
• G.MG.1 Use geometric shapes, their measures, and their properties to describe objects (e.g., modeling a tree trunk or a human torso as a cylinder).
• G.GMD.1 Give an informal argument for the formulas for the circumference of a circle, area of a circle, volume of a cylinder, pyramid, and cone. Use dissection arguments, Cavalieri’s principle, and informal limit arguments.
• G.GMD.4 Identify the shapes of two-dimensional cross-sections of three- dimensional objects, and identify three-dimensional objects generated by rotations of two-dimensional objects.
G.GMD.3 Use volume formulas for cylinders, pyramids, cones, and spheres to solve problems. (Note: Informal arguments for area and volume formulas can make use of the way in which area and volume scale under similarity transformations: when one figure in the plane results from another by applying a similarity transformation with scale factor k, its area is k2 times the area of the first. Similarly, volumes of solid figures scale by k3 under a similarity transformation with scale factor k.)
• G.MG.2 Apply concepts of density based on area and volume in modeling situations (e.g., persons per square mile, BTUs per cubic foot).*

Probability and Statistics
S.CP.2 Understand that two events A and B are independent if the probability of A and B occurring together is the product of their probabilities, and use this characterization to determine if they are independent.
• S.CP.5 Recognize and explain the concepts of conditional probability and independence in everyday language and everyday situations. For example, compare the chance of having lung cancer if you are a smoker with the chance of being a smoker if you have lung cancer.
• S.CP.4 Construct and interpret two-way frequency tables of data when two categories are associated with each object being classified. Use the two-way table as a sample space to decide if events are independent and to approximate conditional probabilities. For example, collect data from a random sample of students in your school on their favorite subject among math, science, and English. Estimate the probability that a randomly selected student from your school will favor science given that the student is in tenth grade. Do the same for other subjects and compare the results.
• S.CP.6 Find the conditional probability of A given B as the fraction of B’s outcomes that also belong to A, and interpret the answer in terms of the model.

Quarter 4

Right Triangles
• G.SRT.8 Use trigonometric ratios and the Pythagorean Theorem to solve right triangles in applied problems.

• G.C.2 Identify and describe relationships among inscribed angles, radii, and chords. Include the relationship between central, inscribed, and circumscribed angles; inscribed angles on a diameter are right angles; the radius of a circle is perpendicular to the tangent where the radius intersects the circle Include factoring.
G.GPE.1 Derive the equation of a circle of given center and radius using the Pythagorean Theorem; complete the square to find the center and radius of a circle given by an equation.
• G.C.3 Construct the inscribed and circumscribed circles of a triangle, and prove properties of angles for a quadrilateral inscribed in a circle
• G.CO.12 Make formal geometric constructions with a variety of tools and methods (compass and straightedge, string, reflective devices, paper folding, dynamic geometric software, etc.). Copying a segment; copying an angle; bisecting a segment; bisecting an angle; constructing perpendicular lines, including the perpendicular bisector of a line segment; and constructing a line parallel to a given line through a point not on the line.
• G.CO.13 Construct an equilateral triangle, a square, and a regular hexagon inscribed in a circle.
• G.MG.3 Apply geometric methods to solve design problems (e.g., designing an object or structure to satisfy physical constraints or minimize cost; working with typographic grid systems based on ratios).*

SBG Common Core Algebra 1 Pacing Chart

Algebra I Pacing Chart
Common Core Standards

Priority Standards in Bold- Priorities are things we will keep coming back to over and over throughout the year and are assessed on ACT.

Quarter 1

A.REI.3. Solve linear equations and inequalities in one variable, including equations with coefficients represented by letters.
Rearrange formulas to highlight a quantity of interest, using the same reasoning as in solving equations. For example, rearrange Ohm’s law V = IR to highlight resistance R
• A.CED.1. Create equations and inequalities in one variable and use them to solve problems. Include equations arising from linear and quadratic functions, and simple rational and exponential functions.
• A.REI.1. Explain each step in solving a simple equation as following from the equality of numbers asserted at the previous step, starting from the assumption that the original equation has a solution. Construct a viable argument to justify a solution method
• N.Q.2 Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling.
• N.Q.3 Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations on measurement when reporting quantities.
Interpret expressions that represent a quantity in terms of its context.
Interpret parts of an expression, such as terms, factors, and coefficients.
Interpret complicated expressions by viewing one or more of their parts as a single entity. For example, interpret P(1+r)n as the product of P and a factor not depending on P.

• S.ID.3 Interpret differences in shape, center, and spread in the context of the data sets, accounting for possible effects of extreme data points (outliers).
• S.ID.1 Represent data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots).
• S.ID.2 Use statistics appropriate to the shape of the data distribution to compare center (median, mean, and spread of two or more different data sets.

Quarter 2

Functions and Graphs
• F.IF.1 Understand that a function from one set (called the domain) to another set (called the range) assigns to each element of the domain exactly one element of the range. If f is a function and x is an element of its domain, then f(x) denotes the output of f corresponding to the input x. The graph of f is the graph of the equation y = f(x).
• F.IF.2 Use function notation, evaluate functions for inputs in their domains, and interpret statements that use function notation in terms of a context.
• F.IF.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship. Key features include: intercepts; intervals where the function is increasing, decreasing, positive, or negative; relative maximums and minimums; symmetries
• F.BF.2 Write arithmetic and geometric sequences both recursively and with an explicit formula, use them to model situations, and translate between the two forms
• F.LE.2 Construct linear and exponential functions, including arithmetic and geometric sequences, given a graph, a description of a relationship, or two input-output pairs (include reading these from a table)
• S.ID.6 Represent data on two quantitative variables on a scatter plot, and describe how the variables are related.
o a. Fit a function to the data; use functions fitted to data to solve problems in the context of the data. Use given functions or choose a function suggested by the context. Emphasize linear and exponential models.
o b. Informally assess the fit of a function by plotting and analyzing residuals.
o c. Fit a linear function for a scatter plot that suggests a linear association.
• S.ID.7 Interpret the slope (rate of change) and the intercept (constant term) of a linear model in the context of the data.
• S.ID.8 Compute (using technology) and interpret the correlation coefficient of a linear fit.
• F.IF.5 Relate the domain of a function to its graph and, where applicable, to the quantitative relationship it describes. For example, if the function h(n) gives the number of person-hours it takes to assemble n engines in a factory, then the positive integers would be an appropriate domain for the function.
• F.LE.1 Distinguish between situations that can be modeled with linear functions and with exponential functions.
o a. Prove that linear functions grow by equal differences over equal intervals; and that exponential functions grow by equal factors over equal intervals.
o b. Recognize situations in which one quantity changes at a constant rate per unit interval relative to another.
o c. Recognize situations in which a quantity grows or decays by a constant percent rate per unit interval relative to another.
F.IF.7 Graph functions expressed symbolically and show key features of the graph, by hand in simple cases and using technology for more complicated cases.
o a. Graph linear, exponential, and quadratic functions and show rate of change, intercepts, maxima, and minima.
• N.Q.1 Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays.

Quarter 3

Systems of Equations
A.REI.6 Solve systems of linear equations exactly and approximately (e.g., with graphs), focusing on pairs of linear equations in two variables.
• A.REI.10 Understand that the graph of an equation in two variables is the set of all its solutions plotted in the coordinate plane, often forming a curve (which could be a line).
A.CED.2 Create equations in two or more variables to represent relationships between quantities; graph equations on coordinate axes with labels and scales.
• A.REI.12 Graph the solutions to a linear inequality in two variables as a half-plane (excluding the boundary in the case of a strict inequality), and graph the solution set to a system of linear inequalities in two variables as the intersection of the corresponding half-planes.

Rational Exponents
N.RN.2 Rewrite expressions involving radicals and rational exponents using the properties of exponents.
• N.RN.1 Explain how the definition of the meaning of rational exponents follows from extending the properties of integer exponents to those values, allowing for a notation for radicals in terms of rational exponents. For example, we define 51/3 to be the cube root of 5 because we want (51/3)3 = 5(1/3)3 to hold, so (51/3)3 must equal 5.
• N.RN.3 Explain why the sum or product of two rational numbers is rational; that the sum of a rational number and an irrational number is irrational; and that the product of a nonzero rational number and an irrational number is irrational.

Quarter 4

Polynomials and Factoring
A.APR.1 Understand that polynomials form a system analogous to the integers, namely, they are closed under the operations of addition, subtraction, and multiplication; add, subtract, and multiply polynomials.
A.SSE.3 Choose and produce an equivalent form of an expression to reveal and explain properties of the quantity represented by the expression.
o a. Factor a quadratic expression to reveal the zeros of the function it defines.
• A.SSE.2. Use the structure of an expression to identify ways to rewrite it. For example, see x4 – y4 as (x2)2 – (y2)2, thus recognizing it as a difference of squares that can be factored as (x2 – y2)(x2 + y2)

Quadratic Functions
• F.IF.8 Write a function defined by an expression in different but equivalent forms to reveal and explain different properties of the function.
• Use the process of factoring and completing the square in a quadratic function to show zeros, extreme values, and symmetry of the graph, and interpret these in terms of a context.
• Use the properties of exponents to interpret expressions for exponential functions. For example, identify percent rate of change in functions such as y = (1.02)t, y = (0.97)t, y = (1.01)12t, y = (1.2)t/10, and classify them as representing exponential growth or decay.
• F.IF.9 Compare properties of two functions each represented in a different way (algebraically, graphically, numerically in tables, or by verbal descriptions). For example, given a graph of one quadratic function and an algebraic expression for another, say which has the larger maximum.
• A.CED.3 Represent constraints by equations or inequalities, and by systems of equations and/or inequalities, and interpret solutions as viable or non-viable options in a modeling context. For example, represent inequalities describing nutritional and cost constraints on combinations of different foods.
• A.REI.4 Solve quadratic equations in one variable.
o b. Solve quadratic equations by inspection (e.g., for x2 = 49), taking square roots, the quadratic formula and factoring, as appropriate to the initial form of the equation. Recognize when the quadratic formula gives complex solutions and write them as a ± bi for real numbers a and b.

SBG: Common Core

Our school recently received a massive grant for school improvement. There are only 2 small schools in Illinois who received this grant and we are one of them (less than 200 students in high school). If we can do this, if we can turn our scores around and make substantial AYP progress, it's likely we will receive national recognition. As a result, we have adopted the turnaround model which means we have employed a turnaround administrator, 3 instructional coaches, and a large amount of change. Change + teachers = not the easiest thing ever.

We have already started completing and submitting 5-step lesson plans each week. Coaches are rotating classrooms making observations in any classroom they want to and meeting with teachers to suggest new teaching strategies and the like. Soon we will be accumulating and analyzing tons of data in order to make better decisions for students. Starting with math, the coaches are starting to align curriculum to ACT but more importantly, the newly adopted Common Core standards from high school down to elementary. Hopefully this will better guide instruction as well as eliminate knowledge gaps from one grade level to the next.

Back in September, I had the fantastic opportunity to work with my instructional coach for two entire days building a Common Core/ACT College Readiness Standards SBG skill list.

First of all, I'm not a fan of Common Core. I think the language is still vague and complicated. I don't know what is so hard about writing things in a way that makes sense to the average person. Also, I hope in the future they create a document with examples or sample assessment questions to better clarify what exactly each concept means. The ACT college readiness standards are much more clear cut and practical and I had just gotten accustomed to them when the CC curve ball hit. These lists are prioritized based on what is assessed by the ACT since a Common Core test won't show up for a few years (if at all). Since all of this work should have been done this summer but couldn't be (thanks, state of Illinois for all the 'delayed' funding), the pacing guide is for next year and this is sort of a transitional year that will be messy.

I really liked the way my coach helped me create this. She printed the CC standards on colored paper and cut it into strips. I went through and picked out what I considered to be my priorities for Algebra 1 and Geometry, based on the topics assessed on ACT and their College Readiness Skills. Then we had 4 pieces of paper that had each quarter written at the top. We put the standards in an order that made sense and separated it into each quarter by what we thought was doable. We taped the colored paper down and thus we had a rough draft pacing chart.

As I've mentioned many times once or twice, I am an algebra girl. Geometry is not my cup of tea. The algebra was much easier for me to sequence and more closely aligned to what I've already been teaching. Unfortunately. CC is leaps and bounds above the baby geometry I am teaching. Which isn't a bad thing, but somewhat sobering. This year I will be teaching things I've never taught before or in fact, have never even learned or heard of myself. (dilations, density dissection arguments, Cavalieri’s principle, and informal limit arguments....what??) CC is HEAVY on transformations which I enjoy but haven't done since high school and have never taught or seen taught in any capacity.

I will be stretched this year. I already am. But that's another post...

While I was incredibly excited to work with someone who 1) loves math 2) has 30 years of experience teaching geometry 3)could help me, it was not exactly the sbg  high I was anticipating. Our pacing guide has 2-3 units per quarter and 2-3 objectives per unit which gives me about 10 objectives to teach in 9 weeks. Which sounds quit simple actually. The problem is, I need a list to tell me what I need to cover each day in order to accomplish those things in 9 weeks. I need a list people, that's just how I operate. Next year, I think it will be much easier to take your advice on chunking things and creating topics but this year I have felt stranded without a specific day-to-day list. Thank God for my coach. It has been so, so helpful to have a real live breathing person there to listen and strategize with who keeps me from boiling over or melting down and who has tons of her own resources to share. Plus, she gives hugs and chocolate.

We have now been working together utilizing backwards design to create assessments first and then designing what is needed each day to work up to that level. Backwards design is something I have wanted to do since before I started teaching but is not something I could wrap my head around and do on my own. It is near impossible for me to project my thinking into the future in that way and so her help has been miraculous. We are creating small units and I am creating my own lists, which is my lifeline.

I started this post with the intention of pasting in my lists of standards but it is already too long so I will link to them here and here and post them in separate entries for your viewing pleasure.