Reflections on the First Six Weeks

October 9, 2010

Since we just finished our first six weeks, I thought that would be a good time to reflect on the year so far.

Algebra 3
The Good

  • It is very freeing having a class in which I have control over the curriculum.
  • For the most part, the ability levels of my classes are considerably higher than I have been used to in my co-teaching classes.
  • I really like using SBG for this class, and I think my students are starting to catch on to making it work for them as well.
    • I had initially thought it would be difficult grading the quizzes on the 4-point scale. It turned out however, that it seemed fairly easy to judge. Since I wasn’t trying to keep track of little niggly points, grading has actually seemed pretty fast.
    • I also thought there might be more disagreement between me and the students on the scale, but I think (hope) that having students put their IDs on the quizzes instead of names has blunted that argument.
    • Although I added the idea at the last minute, I really liked using the test as additional retakes.
    • I am very proud of my spreadsheet that tracks and calculates the grades.
  • Once we cleared up the confusion on whether the problem sets were required, I was fairly impressed with their efforts working on these problems.
  • Most students made good use of the web site. I really liked providing the notes ahead of time.
  • I get to play with Algebra!

The Bad

  • I hadn’t thought seniors would be so whiney!
  • There was definitely a sharp disconnect between where I thought their skill level would be versus where their skill level actually was. This disconnect caused problems throughout the six weeks.
  • Only a few students took advantage of the opportunity to retake the objectives.
  • Very few students came in for help, even though they often complained that they didn’t understand what was going on.
  • I definitely need to split up the section on equations–trying to do every type of equation known to man in one class day was just too much.
  • Quite a few students seemed to think that missing a class meant they weren’t ever going to be responsible for the information they missed.
  • Having the students do presentations was really interesting, but it just wasn’t worth the time it took. Going over the homework before the quiz is a much more productive use of our time.
  • I have never had a class be as hostile as my 1st period was towards me, not even my first year of teaching. I’m not sure my mea culpa speech completely broke through the hostility, but I think we have definitely achieved a calmer relationship. I will have to be careful, however, not to be too lax, because I want them to like me.

The Ugly

  • I’m glad I got so much done before school started, but not only did it make me a little less flexible, but it made me a little too complacent, and I didn’t put in enough time making the re-take versions.
  • Time management wasn’t great.
  • It’s been kinda weird having so many seniors in my class. I’m not used to having so many students who are bigger than I am. Also, the senior panoramic picture and senior meeting really screwed up my test schedule.
  • I’m not sure what I was thinking about when I made up the first test. Why did I only test five of the seven objectives?
  • I think I will eliminate “onto” next year, and move “1-1” to when we talk about inverse functions. Part of me wants to eliminate all of the rational number material (especially delayed-periodic), but part of me insists that they should learn this.
  • I wish I could come up with a short, succinct explanation of SBG.

The Good

  • SBG makes doing “Strengths and Weaknesses” reports for SPED kids so much easier. It’s already broken down by concept, so I just have to look at their scores on the quizzes.
  • Doing notebook checks while they do quizzes makes a lot of sense.
  • The students have done reasonably well making their notebooks and foldables.
  • Turning homework into extra credit has been a brilliant idea. I really like it from both a philosophical and administrative standpoint. We ended up with quite a few students who managed to pass because they had done their homework.

The Bad

  • Very few students came in for retakes until right before the end of the six weeks.
  • For the most part, we held firm to the “one retake per day”, although we did allow some to retake one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it was harder to hold the line on not retaking after tutoring.

The Ugly

  • I did a lousy job of making quiz retakes. Not only did this make it more inefficient when students came by to retest, but S was unable to administer any retakes unless I was there.
  • I never came up with any language objectives.

I also really liked how my new tables worked out, although I did have to redesign the legs. It’s been somewhat discouraging, though, how many supplies have “disappeared”. I hope that our new system of having each period conduct a supply checklist will help.

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