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.

  • 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.


  1. for me, the idea is to boil down the topic until it's possible to write a question. "Functions? ... hmmm, well, they could 'evaluate functions' and 'determine domain and range' and ..." hopefully this list doesn't get too long.

  2. I'm also trying to not really assign homework this year and am relying on classwork and small check-ups to plan my days. I am also planning about 2-3 days in advance because if I do a check-up and find that half the class didn't understand that topic, then I need to figure out how to reteach rather than just go forward. This is where I am finding the most difficulty - staying on top of my planning while serving my students well. I don't want to bore the kids who do already get it, as evidenced by the check-up, but the kids that didn't get it need help before we move on. This is where I am trying to differentiate and find learning opportunities for each group of kids, but it's so hard sometimes. I did this the other day and I had 4 different things going on. I wish there were 4 of me to go around and be with each group and give each group of students the attention they deserves. We do what we can, right? Good luck, I enjoy reading about how you're doing.