Semester Success #MTBoS12days Post 3

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Hmmm.  What do I consider a success this semester?

  1.  I’ve focused on Mindset in the Classroom and using Jo Boaler’s How to Learn Math in 3 of my classes.  Because of schedules, etc. I was unable to give the second part of our Mindset Survey.  However, I have observed noticeable changes in effort, attitude and language (yet!) so far in two of those classes.  The  other class is a tough crowd.  I’ve observed perseverance in those two classes as well.   Students are beginning to share more in discussions.  One in particular said, I know my response is wrong, but I want someone to help me sort through my thinking.  This student has become confident enough to be wrong for the sake of moving their thinking forward.  Using notice/wondering, allowing students to ask their own questions, more are engaged in our discussions.

2. I’ve pulled out my Student Assessment Trackers, updated them for Algebra I units and been intentional in using them the last couple of units. These are not my designs, @lisabej_manitou shared them a couple of years ago.   @algebrainiac1 inquired of them at some point later this semester.  How do I used them, to focus student learning, after we discuss a problem / practice set, students ask what page our “green sheet” is on in the INB and flip over to record their progress on their own.  I plan to continue this and be even more intentional.  Its beginning to form a habit for many of them.

Here is a sample form…this particular one is from Functions Intro Algebra 2 last year.  The most recent one I used in Algebra I was for Linear Functions.  Instead of date under self-assessment, I’ve left it open for students to record the page # or assignment.  They ask every time if its okay to shade their level of understanding/comfort and for the most part, they are pretty honest about their level of performance.  I use the same learning target numbers and descriptors in Infinite Campus.  When a parent contacts me with concerns, I ask them to look at the Unit Oganizer in the student’s INB and they can easily see textbook and/or online resources.functions3.  I’ve been very purposeful about kindness in our learning space this year.  Students are developing self-monitoring skills and holding one-another accountable.  Our marble jars were not as successful as I had hoped, however, students often verbally share when they’ve noticed a classmate offer kindness outside of our classroom.  I thought about changing it up, but decided against.  I am planting seeds, modeling the behavior I wish to see in them and encouraging them as much as I can.

I’ve received several random notes from students saying they appreciate the effort I put into our kindness challenges and how it lends to a better classroom/ learning environment…makes them think about their own behaviors and choices outside the classroom.

4.  I am attempting a new order.  The reading and examples I’ve explored begin the year with patterns, functions to develop uses of various mathematical models, linear functions, systems and then solving equations /inequalities.  Yes, probability/statistics and non-linear is included as well, but the above are my focus.  In my understanding, the idea is to use systems with the various mathematical models as a context for solving equations and inequalities.  Anyone who follows this sequence, I’d love to hear the ins/outs of your experiences.  It is hard to try something new.  You want it to pay off for your students but will never know if something is “better” until you give it a shot.  So, why do I consider this a success?  Just prior to break, I began seeing students intuitively solve equations without explicit instruction and step by step procedures on how to do so.

5.  I’ve started using my popsicle sticks with student names again.  Students know they can be called on at any time.  Hands are not popping up and distracting the thinking of others, wait time has improved on my end.  Each week, I use the name sticks to assign new seats/groups.  Oddly enough, this one change has improved the atmosphere in three of my classes.  Students are eager to get new groups and work with new classmates.  Small group discussions are becoming more productive…slowly but surely.

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