Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the last two years, I have moved from a more traditional grading system of tests and homework to a standards based grading system where I grade students on various "skills" such as operations on fractions. I tend to gather their grades through quizzes (which are directly related to two or three specific skills) and projects. I'm loving how this works as it gives me a lot of information about what students are good at and what they are challenged with. At the same time, I've used almost daily exit cards in my math classroom for the past 8 years. I love these formative assessments because they allow me to get a quick "dipstick" into where my students are as a lesson progresses.

My problem (I guess not really a problem, more of a question) is how do I combine the two (standards based quizzes and exit cards)? I don't really want to start "grading" the exit cards but should I somehow include them as they do show student understanding of a particular skill. Does anyone have a thought on how I could combine the two (or if I even should combine them- maybe I should just keep using them as I do)? does anyone combine both SBAR and exit cards in their classrooms (math or otherwise?)

Any feedback would be great!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Day in.....

Last year, I began to use a Google Presentation to send my students a quick blurb about what we would be doing each day in math and science. I did this for a number of reasons. First, I felt it was important for the students to see what we were doing and to see connections to what we had done. Second, it stopped the "What are we doing in class today?" questions that kids always ask. I love how if a kid does ask me that someone else in the class tells them to look at the "Day in..." This has also been a great way to keep parents informed on what is going on in class. I have a number of them who subscribe to the presentation. Several have told me it makes it that much easier for them to have discussions with their middle school students who normally don't say more than a few grunts. Lastly, its great for me to be able to go back and see the progression of the year through the different lessons I have done. Obviously it isn't a full on lesson plan but it gives me a good synopsis and I can go back to it to see which parts I need to tweak in the future.

As I said, I started doing this last year and it was moderately successful in all of those aspects but I didn't really follow through because the kids weren't using it as much as I'd like. This was due to the fact that middle school kids are often not a group that looks to the future even the very near future and so they wanted to check the "Day in..." right before class. Without access to computers this was difficult. This year, we are a 1 to 1 environment and the "Day in.." is working great!

There are a few tweaks I want to do. I need to include a more "student friendly" version of the standards that we are going to be touching on each day. I think there is still some disconnect from the kids understanding of why we are doing a certain thing each day. From a stylistic point, I have just added a new slide at the end of the presentation. At first this seemed easy enough to me, but now I'm realizing that we are some 120 slides in and it might be hard for kids to get to the current slide. Next year, I'm going to add the slide at the beginning so the show will go in reverse order.

Overall, I'm very happy with how it has turned out, especially with our 1 to 1 environment. The kids love using it to know what is going on and are actually upset if I miss a day for some reason! In fact, I've had a number of kids tell me that they wish they had one for their Language Arts class too (hint, hint Katie!)