Category Archives: #junechallenge

Looking Back 2016-2017 (part 1) Independent Practice

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Looking back over the 2016-2017 season.  (T. Kanold referred to the school year as a season…in a recent training).

As I think on the past year, I will admit it was not my best yet. But I did have several areas of growth and also some targets for growth.  I intended this to be a reflection post over the entire year, but it seems it has evolved into a discussion of homework / independent practice…

My professional goal was to be more intentional in lesson / class closure – as not to have the bell ringing, students hurrying out the door as I am yelling do _ #’s on _ page for HW.  As well as trying to be more intentional with assigning independent practice with the idea of lagging.

In two of my classes we utilized Springboard Curriculum.  There was a lot I enjoyed, some things I learned and a few things I will adjust this next season.

For most of the year, I did a fair job of lagging homework in these two sections.  On Thursday / Friday, assignments for the following week were made, based on the lessons we had completed in the current week.  I used the activity practice sets at the end of a lesson provided in the workbook.  This was not the actually mixed practice I was hoping, but springboard does a good job of varied level of questions within their practice sets.  Not too lengthy, some skills, some reasoning, some application/ modeling.  The sets due on Tues – Friday of the following week.

This would allow students to be proactive and work over the weekend, should they have a busy schedule coming up the next week.  When an assignment was due, I would ask them to turn and talk with those in their group, comparing answers.  I walked around the room and made note of those with complete work, also paying attention to the conversations – and allowing me to decide which problems needed some extra attention as a whole class.  I found this structure from @cheesemonkeysf to be quite purposeful.

E shares step 4 as stamping and collecting every two weeks – for what is essentially a 100% effort grade.  Years ago, I used a stamping system.  A dated library stamp, on test days I would collect a crumpled set of assignments, flip through, counting the number of stamps and report a score for homework.

A few years later, I created a “stamp-sheet” on the back of our unit organizer. The front included how big ideas connected back to the unit concept, with a unit schedule, critical vocabulary and our assessment standards.  The back of the page gave students self-assessment skills for focus and an assignment log I included.

IF complete and on time, students received a stamp..IF complete and late, a circled stamp.  As I learned about formative assessment, I attempted to modify the table as a tool for students to track their learning.  Here is an early version of that:

self assessment

I plan to revisit this idea and implement something similar this school year.  I have tried multiple other things in recent years with little success – somewhere along the way, I let students get away with not practicing.  Somehow I need to address HW/practice in the self-assess column with a structure that is efficient and purposeful.

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Its imperative for students to get some independent practice.  My intention is to make it purposeful, engaging and non-negotiable.

Dr. Kanold referenced Steve Leinwand’s idea of independent practice as brief,  8-10 problems with 3-5 of  most current, a couple from a previous lesson and finish the set with a spiraling from less current topics / skills.  I attempted this for about 9 weeks in my other classes and then I got “busy” and gave it up-falling back to my “old ways”.  Again, I shall revisit, reflect, refine and re-instate.

I give myself a A-/B+ on the lagging homework, B on giving assignments ahead of time, but need to be more intentional in not allowing students to opt out – I failed that aspect.

I also had 3 other classes not using the Springboard Curriculum that I did a poor job with independent practice outside of class.  I lowered my expectations and failed them miserably here.

So overall a C-.  Some aspects in place but much room for growth.

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Self-Care, #5Habits & #HEART! #blogitbingo #MTBoS

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My past few weeks have been spent reading and chatting 5 Habits with a close friend.

Just last week, after a two day training with Dr. Kanold and a tweet from Casey, I decided to download HEART! for some reading with travel time on the road.

And this morning, I tried to get a walk in before the rains from storm Cindy set in while listening to Cult of Pedagogy.

Two things from the podcast…

If you want to know what your future life will be like, take a look at your life today. 

 I took this as, if my life right now doesn’t look how I want to see myself in the future, well, there are some choices I need to make.

This went right along with a quote Nicki Koziarz shared in 5 Habits: 

What you want most over what you want now.

And the beginning of our training with Dr. Kanold was about naming our vision and using it as the guide in our decisions.

Many will say, yes, Pam, this is common sense. Maybe. But apparently it’s a message I needed to hear at least 3 times before I actually heard it.  

The other thing that was shared in the podcast:

I dont like to think of myself as busy, but fruitful, productive, accomplished.

I would like to see myself as more efficient, intentional with my time.  

Anyway, just a quick reflection for myself of how 3 different resources are overlapping for me today.

Looking forward to this free webinar from Angela Watson, Teachers You are a Priority too! on June 28.

HEART! has been both convicting and motivating.  I have completed 80% of the book, finished Risk last night and beginning Thought today.  I am very excited to see how I will use what I’ve learned to have an impact on student learning in my school.  

I am sending myself a text for mid-September for accountabity.  Hopefully I will have a positive blog post for follow up.

What reading / resources / training have overlapped for you recently?

Reflecting on the Year #junechallenge 3

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As I begin to read through responses to class/teacher evaluation for Algebra 2, most are encouraging.

So much of distress I felt this year was due to outside circumstances – as much as it was within my reach, I tried to keep my classroom going.  But it was difficult and draining at times.

How can I continue to offer a classroom that’s inviting, open-to ideas and encourages students to work through challenging tasks?

1.  There must be a relationship established – I feel it takes several weeks, even months to establish this.  Students must trust that you are there for them.  You must reassure them they matter.  Your actions must confirm your words.

I think of a couple of students in particular this year who pushed back – often in the beginning of the year.  I continually had to remind them they were valued and help them see they were learning.  One in particular lashed out during class and refused to participate in a task they felt was not helpful.  The other refused to work in a group of students because that wasn’t “how she learned math.”

In the end, they both experienced success.  Maybe not at the level the state deems readiness, but such big strides moving their thinking forward and growing their confidence.  Each will experience success in life because they are hard workers and they have seen that failing at a difficult task does not define them as a person, but their response to that failure is what builds them.  It was rewarding to watch them pick up, look for ways to improve and after some more effort, smile at the final result, realizing how far they had traveled as a learner.

Taking time to listen to my learners and their ideas – allow them to know I value their thinking.  I need to consider this while building learning tasks and make sure to allow for time to do this.

2.  There must be variety – routines are important but continuing the exact routines all year long becomes mundane and boring.  For example, I like students having a task to begin class – but I also know that changing some of these up every few weeks keeps their interest peaked a bit.  I’m not sure I will have every single thing listed here, but some of my favorites:

Estimation 180, Counting Circles, Visual Patterns, Would You Rather?, Krypto, Math Dice, Flashbacks, Time-Distance Graphs, StatRat from USAtoday.

We were supposed to implement Leader in Me this past year.  Again, one of those things that could have a huge impact, yet, if no follow through, it sizzles out.  Which makes me sad.  One quarter, I used Make a Difference Monday.  I copied articles from What Do You Stand for? (Barbara Lewis) – students read, then on a post-it would respond briefly to a prompt I had on the board pertaining to the article, but relating back to their life / choices.

Test-Prep Tuesday was essentially flashbacks to pre-algebra and geometric concepts – intended to help students study for upcoming ACT.

Fast-Five Friday was a flashback of big ideas from the previous week.

Some ideas I want to add for next year:

Graphical Data is presented, but students create the questions.  Understanding data displays is so important – so I hope to build a file of examples to use here.  Now I need a cool, catchy name for this structure.

Function Junction – using the NAGS format, I will give students one of the models, they must fill-in / create the other 3.  Possibly even use a railroad/train format in graphics that connect each model: Numerical/table of values, Algebraic / Equation, Graphical, Sentence / Context description.

Literacy and Vocabulary strategies are important to me.  I feel several of my students struggle with reading and comprehension, so I am hoping to build a structure to help them link new terms to prior knowledge.

3.  Communication with home is vital, yet I continue to fail at doing a good job.  I start with good intentions.  Do parents even know who I am?  Do they know my views on education?  Do they feel I am approachable?  Again, it will be a goal to make positive strides to utilize home as a resource and support.

Frustration with Class Attendance #junechallenge 1

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I have had so many thoughts running through my mind the past 2 weeks – wanting to put them down, yet trying to get through the final days of school.

I struggle with Algebra 2.  It is frustrating to me – SOOOOO much stuff jammed into one course.  I feel there is simply not enough time to really develop true understanding of many concepts.  I try to pick big ideas – focus on enduring skills –  from our curriculum that best suits our students in Room 123 and search for strategies that will best meet their needs, helping to move them forward.

As I look at these students at the beginning of the school year, three are meeting college readiness.  Several fall within the 10-15 ACT score range and majority in the 15-20 range.  Majority are down on math, do not enjoy it and feel there is “only one way to get THE right answer.”

I recall one particular day in class – a student stating, if you don’t get what the teacher said, they move on without you and you’re stuck, set up to fail.  This.makes.me.sad.

Our goal: to make it accessible, less painful, allow students room to think on their own, discuss their claims / strategies, test one another’s suggestions and move their thinking forward.

 

 

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A look at 3 years of EOC results shows improving results.  Is it enough?  Not sure, I’ll need to look at our district projections.

The 4th year is hypothetical – 20% of  students missed the next achievement level by 1 question.  1 question.  This is frustrating to have several that close to moving up another step, yet barely miss the mark.  Yet, we’ll celebrate their growth anyway!

I am concerned about this though because I experienced a high level of frustration the last quarter of school.  Added to weeks of snow days, no spring break to make up some time, it seemed our class attendance was the worst in recent years.  In the last 9 weeks prior to EOC testing, there were 33 days instructional time was interrupted – either by scheduling presentations, other state testing, benchmark testing, college visits, competitions, field trips, field trips.  The day prior to EOC testing, there were eight students on a reward trip.

Don’t get me wrong – student life and involvement is imperative – some of these activities are the only reason a few students even make an effort to be at school.  I would never want to take away these opportunities – they deserve the best.  However, I feel that our instructional time is valid, important and needs to be protected in a sense.

I am not a worksheet kind of person.  So much of what we do in Room 123 is hands-on, small groups and class discussions.  Its impossible to capture those same learning experiences when you’re not there. Trying to continue in-depth discussions and learning tasks was merely impossible.   There was no continuity with 7 students out one day and 6 out the next with a different 8 students out on a third day.    I failed because I gave up.

What if I had kept pushing through?  Maybe those  students would have reached their next level.

I’m not trying to whine – I’m looking for strategies – how others handle these same frustrations.  This summer, I intend to find or outline a resource, update an old class blog – something to provide for those students who are absent for whatever reason.  I’ve tried Edmodo (its okay), Class blog (very few students utilized it).  What about evernote?  One Drive notebooks?

So, how do you handle it when a students asks “What did we do?  What did I miss yesterday?”  How do you fill-in  for in class learning tasks for your absent students?