Friday, March 6, 2015

Extra Credit...

As a general rule, I don't offer extra credit.  It's usually extra work for me, I offer resubmissions, and what standard is it anyway?  

But I'm starting to get cheap and greedy and am having a hard time reconciling it all. I'm at the point where I cannot continue to buy things for my students because I have my own little person to take care of, but I want duct tape. And tissues. And batteries. And glue sticks. The school generally buys the majority of the basics--I just have to ask. But duct tape?  

I can't punish the less affluent students, but I don't want to buy tons and tons of stuff myself. I don't like cognitive dissonance. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions...

I'm considering creating a FAQ for my interactive notebooks next year.  I'm a bit tired of answering a desperate student's "What can I do to raise my grade".  The answer is always the same.  Redo something....

At any rate, my current list of Frequently Asked Questions that I'll develop a nifty thingie for...

Q:  What can I do to improve my grade?
A:  Redo anything that isn't graded in red.

Q:  Can I have extra credit?
A:  No.

Q:  Why don't you offer extra credit?
A:  Because I offer resubmissions.

Q:  Will you accept _____ late?
A:  I will accept late projects, however, you've forfeited your right to resubmissions.  I will not accept late homework.  They're not worth enough in my class for me to bother with it.

Q:  I lost my handout, may I have another?
A:  A pdf is hosted on my website.  You get it.

Q:  What if I'm absent?
A:  It's your responsibility to make up all work in a timely manner.  You have the same number of days you were absent to make up work.  If your work hasn't been turned in after the number of days you've been absent, your work is officially late, and late work rules will apply.  For example, if you were sick for 2 days, you have two days to make it up.  On the third day, it's considered late, and you will lose your resubmission privileges or your work may not be accepted.

What am I missing?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Standards-Based Grading.

My previous school insisted on standards-based grading, and resubmissions were the school norm.  They believed in standards-based grading so much that their online grading system only allowed teachers to input grades by standard.  It was brilliant, and made sense to the teachers and students.

I've been reflecting on how to handle students' resubmission of work at my new school.  It's a traditional, large-district middle school.  I've been meaning to do something similar to what my previous school had, within the parameters that I'm given.  So far, not too many students take me up on the offer (not at the systemized, large-scale that APEX did, at least), but for those that do, I would like for them to think about their learning process and what they've done to remediate.  I don't want them to waste their time, or most importantly, mine.  Telling the students that they can only submit an assignment three times total helps.  I grade in three different colors, first in green, then in purple, then in red.  Once they hit red, the assignment is done.  No excuses.

The problem is, there are still students who will resubmit an assignment cold.  I really liked Sarah Hagan's "Request to Retest", so I reformatted hers so it matched the rest of my classroom forms.

The New Semester...

I've been trying to write this for months.  Seriously.  Months.  I don't think it's my inability to reflect that has been preventing me to get this done.  Rather blame my life—it's busy.  That's all I can really say.  Part-time teacher, part-time math coach, wife, and mom to a very high-energy toddler,

Ok, so it's time to reflect...

The new semester has started, and is well on it's way.  I am be teaching one section of Common Core Math 8, and one section of intervention math, where anything is game.  For now, I will be temporarily abandoning my interactive notebooks for Math 8, and will continue next year at the beginning of the school year as the course norm.  I've been going through the new, school-chosen textbook with some degree of fidelity to see if I actually like it.  And the verdict is that I don't.  I'm a bit disappointed that colleagues that I trusted chose something so dry and well, lame.  It's ok.  Next year, I go rogue anyway, so whatevs.  :-/

My intervention class will continue to use interactive notebooks, although sparingly, because I intend on sprinkling other projects and other fun games and activities.  So far, we've had a decimal unit, which culminated in buying furnishings for their 'apartments'.  I had planned a larger, overarching unit that would include paychecks, paying rent and writing cheques for bills, but I think that assignment may have been too mature for them.  The last time I did something similar, my students were three years older, most of them understood taxes, and some of them actually had jobs.

After the decimal unit, we had a fraction unit that ended disastrously.  We had a how-to foldable at the end of the unit and culminated in making cookies.  Given the Nestle Tollhouse recipe, they were supposed to multiply it by 1/2 and physically make those cookies.

I would take them home, bake them off, return them, and have a taste test.  If they had cruddy cookies, it's because they're cruddy fractioneers.  The cookies came out like garbage.  Every.  Single.  Batch.  Garbage.  Who screwed up their math?  Me.  I gave each group 3 cubes of butter (1 cube = 1/2 stick = 1/4 cup).  They should have  had half that amount.  Sigh.  Better luck next time, right?  I'm making it up to them by baking my FamousCookies.  The cookies whose recipe will go with me to the grave.  Those cookies.

Next up are integers, equations and graphing lines.  I'm not sure how I'll end the integers and equations, but I know that the graphing will end with making paper airplanes.  They will make airplanes on stock graph paper, then write the equations, then pass the equations to a partner.  The partner will then make the airplanes and fly them.  Winners get a cookie?