Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Burden of Responsibility

So we finished Ch. 3 & all of the reassessments. This was our first full unit using the new grading techniques and I think it's really paying off for those students who are putting in the effort. Sadly, only 2 students from 2nd hour bothered with reassessments to demonstrate progress toward mastery on the standards, while half of 6th hour did. Everyone who came in for a reassessment did show some improvement, whether or not the actual letter grade changed any.

To review the new grading system in a nutshell:
-I prescribe specific learning targets for each chapter called "standards"
-We work through about 2 standards for every section of the textbook
-Homework quizzes are given after instruction and a chance to practice
-Content quizzes & tests are seen as a chance to demonstrate proficiency on standards that have already been covered
-Rankings are assigned based on proficiency to help students focus their efforts on the specific standards they've struggled with
-Reassessments are offered to let students demonstrate progress

It's simple: If you're not taking good notes, reviewing your notes at home, doing the practice sets (and making sure you're doing them correctly), and giving honest consideration to my feedback and what it means, you're not going to succeed in this class. I stand by my assertion that students who put in the effort never fail my classes because they never fail to learn something.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Standards based grades

We're almost done with Chapter 3 and I want to make sure everyone (parents and students both) understand what's going on with the grades.

I'm trying something new - instead of assigning grades based on points received divided by total points, I'm trying to make a grade serve as a true indication of student mastery. For chapter 3, I wrote out 9 distinct learning goals. We generally cover 1 or 2 of the goals in a section, and we had 4 sections in chapter 3 (3.1, 3.2, 3.5, and 3.6). We had homework quizzes that assessed student progress on 7 of the 9 standards and then we had a semi-major quiz that covered those same standards.

Progress toward mastery on each standard is measured on a 4 point scale with 4 = Expert, 3 = proficient, 2 = partially proficient, and 1 = Not proficient. A letter grade of B is considered proficient on most standards and correlates to a ranking of 3. The legend is available on the "November" page at the link to "Ch. 3 Grades"

The goal here is to give students targeted information regarding their strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, students will use this information to aid in their studying. Retakes will transform into 'reassessments' and be focused on specific standards, so students only need to spend time working on content they have struggled with.

Please email me if you have any questions.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ch. 2 Quiz

The results of the 2.1 - 2.3 quiz were very disappointing across the board. Please remember to complete your action plan of how you are going to reach mastery and return it signed by a parent as soon as possible. By not completing an action plan, the message you are sending me is that you don't care about correcting your mistakes and making improvements going forward.

Looking ahead, the chapter 2 test will be next week. Obviously, the content covered on the quiz will reappear on the test, so you have even more incentive to learn from your mistakes and make sure you've mastered the material. Also on the test will be new material from the second half of the chapter. You MUST complete Units #5-9 in Carnegie in order for your test grade to appear in Zangle.

I will be after school on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week. Please come by or sign a travel pass for FLEX if you need additional help.

Friday, October 21, 2011

We can do better

Of the 70 students in my 2 geometry classes, only 11 took the time to retake the Ch. 1 Test. Of those 11, 9 improved their score. I've tried to stress how important the material we covered in Ch. 1 was to being successful in the course, and regardless of what people say, it's a person's actions that count.

Already in Ch. 2 I'm seeing a pattern of negative behavior. Many students were unable to complete a 10 question quiz in the roughly 40 minutes allotted. That doesn't mean the quiz was too long or difficult, it means that people have not yet mastered the content. I could give you days to finish a quiz, but if you don't know the material, extra time is not going to help. We need to be better at being proactive and asking for help BEFORE a quiz or a test, not relying on retakes after the fact.

As a heads up, there will be a Ch. 2 Test right after election day (a week and a half away). Don't wait too long to come see me for help.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ch. 1 Results

So, the Ch. 1 test was disappointing across the board. Please be sure to see me for extra help. Don't be concerned with the deadline of this week to take the retake. As I'll tell whoever I see at P-T Conferences tomorrow, I care more about seeing you work to overcome your mistakes than I care about deadlines.

Ch. 2 is about the basics of reasoning and proof. It might seem simple, but it's important to understanding everything else we're going to do so take it seriously.

There will be another HW Quiz on Friday covering the measurement stuff we've been talking about.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Don't wait to ask for help

The class keeps moving regardless of whether or not you ask, and it only gets harder as the year moves on.

Our first test is scheduled for Monday, October 3rd (after the 3 day weekend). You'll get some type of review information on Thursday. Remember, you can use a note sheet of your own creation on the test, so please make sure to write down the useful equations like slope and midpoint.

There are so many opportunities to succeed in this class which means there is only one person to look to if you don't.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

So far, so good.

Everyone seems to be getting the hang of the pace of the class which is good. Expect a section of notes (which correspond nicely to the textbook you'll be getting this week) to take a day or two. We'll have a homework quiz when the section of notes is done, and we'll have skills review quizzes every other week or so.

I would plan for our first real test to be next week (the week of Sept. 25th). Full travel FLEX starts this week so please grab a FLEX pass if you have any questions about the material we've covered so far.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Onward and upward!

Ok, so we covered the basics of graphs and slope last week, and everyone has gotten through the algebra review (check the schedule part of the website for the answer key).

This week we'll have the first skills review quiz, both the practice and graded versions. We'll also start the "real" content of the class as we talk about classifications and ratios.

Make sure to ask sooner rather than later if you feel the class is passing you by. It doesn't get easier as the days go by.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Welcome back!

Most of what is covered in geometry was developed by an ancient Greek mathematician named Euclid (pronounced yoo-clid)a few THOUSAND years ago. Obviously no computers or Ti-84's, this guy barely had paper. So why do we need any of that fancy stuff? Simple answer is that we don't.

We're going to do something different this year - we're going to get back to basics and try to discover the postulates and theorems that Euclidean Geometry is based on. Think about it - would you prefer I just tell you everything and test you to see if you heard/remembered it, or do you think it would be better if you figured it out for yourself?

Is it going to be hard? Hard to say. It's going to be different, but if you give it a chance and put in the effort, it will be worth it.

About Me

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I teach physics, astronomy, and geometry at a public high school on the border of Detroit, MI.