SBG Plans 

I’ve spent A LOT of time thinking about grading this summer. As summer winds down, I have put focus on getting some solid planning done and after lots of coffee, sketches on scratch paper, and chats with colleagues and friends, I think I’ve finally found a happy place where I feel comfortable and confident with my plans. This is going to be my first year trying out SBG, so I want to keep it simple as to not confuse myself or my students. Here’s what I’m thinking:

In both Algebra I and Geometry, I am going to be diligent about maintaining short, frequent assessments on one standard at a time. These will happen every couple of days after we learn a standard. After reading the math=love blog, I loved her idea (I pretty much love everything she does) of having students write the skill and learning goal on their paper. I think this could reinforce the topic we are learning, and overtime, I think having students write “I can” statements will increase their confidence in their understanding. For example, when we learn solving linear equations, this will fall under the skill, “linear equations,” and the learning goal for the students would be “I can use algebraic methods to solve a linear equation.” Both of these will be posted on the board along with the 2-3 problems they will be solving. Hopefully by just writing the problems on the board, it will save me time typing up problems and making copies since they will happen frequently (again, keeping it simple will be my SBG motto this year). But, I will need to be specific in helping students understand how to write the problem and show their work in a neat and organized manner. I am also pretty sure I’m going to use a 1, 2, 3, 3.5, 4 scale and require students who make less than a 3.5 (88%) to retake. Below is the example of the SBG quiz template I revised from the math=love blog. This also takes place of the red, yellow, green systems I talked about in a previous SBG post.

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These SBG checks that will happen about twice a week will comprise 60% of a student’s grade. Projects and larger Quizzes that comprise multiple standards will count for 30% and then there will be one cumulative nine weeks test that will be 10%. Students may retake any SBG check or larger quiz if it is below a 3.5.

I think by having frequent checks, followed by more comprehensive projects/quizzes, will help kids retain their knowledge beyond just for one day, one check. Then, having one final test at the end of each nine weeks, my Algebra 1 students will have the feel of a larger spiraling test like the STAAR test, and my geometry students will also keep retaining their spiraling knowledge.

Feel free to comment with any thoughts or ideas as I start to move forward into the new year!

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Summer Thoughts and Goals

Next year I am transitioning to a new prep at my school and will be teaching freshmen Algebra I and Geometry. For the past five years, plus a year as an intern during my master’s program, I have been teaching sophomore Algebra II and Geometry. So, after knowing I was going to move to a new team, a new prep, and a new age of students, I was honestly a bit nervous. One main reason I was nervous was because I knew taking on Algebra I meant taking on the STAAR test. I knew that added pressure on both me and my students would make this year a lot different, and while I don’t want my students to feel pressured, the test is inevitable and I want to help them be successful in the best way I can. Thoughts have raced through my mind this summer about the new prep, but after this weekend I am more excited than ever.

So, this weekend a few of my friends and I traveled to Dallas for a girl’s weekend. On Friday night as we were just sitting around talking, one of my friends posed the following simple, yet very thought provoking, question: if we were to all gather back together in one year, what do we hope to have accomplished? After I shared some of my hopes in my personal life, I said that I hoped I could say that 100% of my Algebra I students passed STAAR. After saying it out loud, that previously mentioned nervous feeling tried to sneak in…I started thinking is that too lofty of a goal, what if it doesn’t happen, was the passing standard even going to be the same this year, should I take it back and say I hope most of my students pass, etc.?! But, I didn’t take it back and I didn’t change my goal. I continued on with it to my friends as I said, why would I hope for something like 95% or 98% passing?! How could I look at my class and hope “Johnny” passed but not “Kelly”?! How could I give up on the kid who claims they are bad at math, or the student who is too shy to ask questions in class, or the one who passed with a 70 every year before, the one who struggles, the one who comes to tutoring, or the one who doesn’t? I can’t and won’t give up on any of them. As I was telling my friends this, I knew my students were the ones that should hear it. I want my future students to know we are in it together and my goal should not be a secret to them. I want them to know my goal leaves no student out. I want them to know that I will celebrate successes with them and help them learn from the mistakes. I want them to know that I will never give up on them and in turn, I hope that they never give up on themselves. I want them to be confident in their growth as mathematicians rather than judge themselves on their initial understanding. I want them to know that although their scores on state testing does not define them as mathematical scholars, I will be working every day to help each of them pass with 100% of my effort. I can’t wait to tell them this on the first day of school!

I am excited for next year, for new challenges, new adventures, and to start the year off with a goal that encompasses every student, every day. Although I will miss my sophomore team, my sophomore students, and my sophomore content, I am excited for freshmen students, an inspiring freshmen team, and the confidence that my thoughts of nervousness have been replaced by pure excitement.