And YOU have posed some great questions:
- What to do with the paper trail?
- What if all this writing in math limits/scares away students who aren't good at writing?
- How is it even possible to assess all of this writing?
- How to fit all of this in 45 minute periods?
- Could the vocabulary be part of their learning log?
- Aren't you overwhelming yourself with these ideas?
- Shouldn't you include verbal vocabulary practice too?
What to do with the paper trail?
I'm thinking of stealing @samjshah's binder idea. Sort of. He has students bring a folder to class and a binder in their locker. My thinking is, current unit's work in folder, which is transferred to binder at the end of the unit. Then the binder has everything we've done all year without the hassle of lugging it around. Students could even keep the binders in the room. I'm thinking the warm-ups and exit-slips are going to be using the clickers. Maybe. Well warm-ups definitely. Exit slips, I think I want to give them a problem and the answer and they have to show me their work. Which still involves writing and therefore, paper. I do have individual student whiteboards. I guess what it comes down to, is what do they truly need to be writing for understanding, practice, reflection, and mastery? (That's a post all of it's own I bet) I like the method of teaching a concept then doing a bunch of examples, then adding a twist to the concept, more examples, application problem, exit slip, learning log. It just works out so nicely in my head!
I want to do a lot of practice in class where I can guide and correct. Also, because I'm not giving practice as homework. I want to give students time to work on their learning log in class but not too much time, I only have 45 minutes! So basically that becomes their homework. But will they do it? I need some Shawn Cornally input here! Ok, so maybe I don't like the folder and binder idea anymore. Do they need to keep exit slips? I know they need to be writing down example problems and steps of the process and such. Should I create guided notes that incorporate vocabulary, examples, steps, exit slips all in one? Then they just need a notebook for learning logs and a binder for giant note packet and past assessments? Ok, I am accomplishing nothing on this question.
What if all this writing in math limits/scares away students who aren't good at writing?
I've honestly never considered this point of view before. But to me reading and writing are just two life skills you are going to need no matter what you do. Especially in high school. If practice makes perfect, then shouldn't more time writing (i.e. in math) improve students ability? Aren't students blogging, e-mailing, and texting (which are all forms of writing) more than ever? I learn and reflect more on this blog than anywhere. Because as I am writing, I am processing. I don't know any other way to create that opportunity for students. It's just not practical for me to rely on technology at this point. My students don't consistently have internet access anywhere and my administration is not fond of technology. I will leave it at that right now. I also want to be clear that by learning logs, I mean a place where students can write, draw, record, reflect, and process their own learning and mistakes in learning. This will not be daily essay writing. It will be graphing, making a table, drawing, giving steps in a process, analyzing errors, etc.
How is it even possible to assess all of this writing?
This is not something I can fully answer yet. I want to assess and give feedback. I also don't want to die. So, here are my ideas so far:
- Random grading: have students roll dice or draw card from a deck. Depending on the math I want to use: multiples of 3, face cards, snake eyes, even number, odd number, etc will determine if I collect and grade that day
- Verbally assessing: call on random students to read theirs out loud or me walking around the room and reading as they complete warm-ups; I can give personal verbal feedback at that time.
- Weekly rotations: I could collect the learning logs for that week from one class to assess and give feedback on over the weekend; I could rotate one class per weekend so I don't get overwhelmed.
- Trade and grade: students could trade with a partner and write one positive response and one question/improvement response.
- Class blog: students could take turns typing their favorite entry from that week on a class blog. Each time it is their turn, they have to comment on someone in their class's previous entry and one from another class as well. ( I just made that up. See? Processing!)
- SBG Prerequisite: For students who come in to practice and reassess a la sbg, I can ask them to show me their learning logs as a way for me to assess their understanding and look for errors.
- Use time wisely: I could use my homeroom, intervention, or planning time to just sit down and read. And even take it home and grade like other teachers do. (*gasp*)
Notice that none of these ideas mentioned a number grade but reading, response, and feedback. I don't know how or if I should give a number grade. What do you think? Shawn says that by assigning points, the focus becomes points not learning. I like this idea by my friend @PersidaB:
Can I make this transition to detailed, written feedback as opposed to a number?
Will my students buy it?
To be continued...