I met with my instructional coach yesterday and we came up with a lot of good ideas that I'm ready to try and hoping will work.
Bell Ringers: I will no longer cut and print these. I will have half sheets of blank paper on the shelf (along with golf pencils) for students to grab as they come in. Bell ringer problems will be projected on the screen. They will be a review of the previous grade, concepts students should know and be able to do without my assistance. I plan on trying to do 3 questions per day and a different concept on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The first week the problems will have hints and formulas. The second week I will take those away and the students will do the same type of problems. So the students will see 3 new concepts every two weeks. Hopefully, this will build in some retention of the earlier concepts as well as start every class off with each student experiencing some kind of success. I also plan to try Amy Gruen's green pen idea (except with purple probably) where I star a students bell ringer (when it is correct) and then give them a purple pen to coach/star someone else and so on.
Homework: I am giving up on grading homework. Even though I've only graded it for completion so far anyway, it still is just...bleh. I am going to quit calling it homework and call it a practice sheet. Every day I will post the answers to the practice sheet and answer questions. Next, I am going to give a practice quiz every Thursday by picking a few of the most important homework problems from the week. These will be the exact same questions from the homework, same numbers and everything. Students who did the homework and asked questions will do well and students who didn't really need to do the homework can still do well. The people who won't do well are those who needed to do the homework but didn't. Hopefully that will teach them that practice does have a purpose. Should I let them use their homework or will that just encourage asking me how to do every single problem in class and writing it down to use for the quiz?
Exit Slips: Students will use the back side of their half sheet from the bell-ringer to answer a question projected on the SMART board. When they leave, they will stick their paper in a green, yellow, or red folder attached to the door, based on how well they understood the day's lesson. I can judge based on how they feel as well as the worked out problems what to do next.
Summarizing: Earlier I posted my math portfolio idea. Now I've decided that it's entirely too much. I want to have students write skill descriptions but I just don't know how practical it is. One piece I do plan to use is my unit summary sheet. At the end of each section we will do summary bingo. I [left this blog post and took about three hours to say that I] created a summary bingo powerpoint with 25 different summarizing questions. I actually have a bingo game where you spin the wheel and a chip pops out. I will take all the bingo chips out that aren't an option so that every day we can spin the wheel, a chip pops out, and we choose that summary question for the day. Students write their answer to the question and keep the sheet in their binder. Then do exit slip, drop in folder on the way out, the end. I am concerned on how long it will take to do a summary question and exit slip. I probably won't do both every day so I guess we will just see how it goes.
Unit Review: I'm not sure how this will work since I am attempting sbg this year [again!] and not having unit tests. I guess if I quiz more than one concept at a time, maybe? Not sure. We are going to go back through our notes and highlight the main ideas of each section. This, combined with the unit summary sheet, is going to be a good way to summarize and review the unit while hopefully teaching a study skill. I'm also going to try to build in a summary space throughout our notes instead of leaving it all to the end. Summarize, summarize, summarize!
Classroom Management: Thanks to @approx_normal my official classroom management mentor, and my instructional coach, I hope I have a better handle on how to deal with issues in the classroom. At some point in the beginning of school, I'm going to discuss two things with my classes: an atmosphere of respect and an environment for learning. We are going to split the board in half and brainstorm what both of these things should look like and sound like. From there, the first time something happens that [minorly] disrupts either of those, I'm going to quietly ask the student to see me after class. I'm going to remind them that their behavior is disrupting my teaching/interrupting other students' learning and ask what they can do to remember not to do that again. Then tell them the next time it happens I will have to write a referral. The next time it happens, I will again tell them to see me after class. I will apologize that I now have to write a referral. My IC advised me to keep it from seeming like these things bother me personally and keep the focus on the class and interrupting learning. She told me I stick my head in the sand and ignore things when they happen. Similar to Hedge telling me I'm not committed to changing anything. Hmm...She also said that when I get in a bad mood, I tend to turn away from the kids and ignore them which makes them feel like I don't really care how they act anyway. I know this approach isn't as B.A. as @approx_normal is, but hey, what is?
The important thing is I think it fits me. I think I might actually be able to do this.
See Me After Class Cards: This is a brainstorm I just came up with. I'm thinking of creating a little See Me After Class card that I can quietly drop on a student's desk as I walk by. If there is a discipline problem, I can drop the card and leave the kid squirming, wondering if they will get written up. If a student does something good, I can also drop the card and later reward/praise them for their behavior with one of my cute new cards. Although the good kid will then be squirming too, possibly thinking they did something wrong. Maybe I should just drop the cute new card on the students desk instead of asking them to stay after. But I kind of like the idea that a student doesn't know exactly why I'm asking them to stay after. What do you think?