*sigh*

I am still not ready! I did my first teacher say today and have another tomorrow, and the kids come Thursday! I have not one iota of an idea for the first day!!! I have to give the dept. preassessment... Ugh!!! I dunno!!

Well... I'm waiting on the INBs for my classes. I'm just too overwhelmed right now to even think about doing something new! I'm thinking I need to get used to the year and implement some ideas from INBs, but I just cannot go whole hog right now.

*sigh*

I am still not ready! I did my first teacher say today and have another tomorrow, and the kids come Thursday! I have not one iota of an idea for the first day!!! I have to give the dept. preassessment... Ugh!!! I dunno!!

It's a work in progress... but here's what I have so far...

Geometry 2013- a work in progress

Edited to add: I am literally working on this everyday, so it will change as I work on it. If you see units are incomplete, it's because I haven't gotten there yet, but check back a few days later to see the changes.

Questions? Comments? POV? Thoughts?

Questions? Comments? POV? Thoughts?

Next year I've been slated to teach ALL GEOMETRY. This translates to ALL FRESHMAN. I haven't taught this age group in eight years! I've never gotten them fresh out of Intermediate School and I am a little worried about how mommy-ish I have to be. I've taught juniors and seniors mostly and I am really worried about homework.

Let me pose some questions...

1) What is the goal of homework, at its most basic level?

2) Should we punish kids that don't need to do the homework?

3) How can we be sure THAT student did the work and it isn't just copied from a friend?

4) If the student did all of the problems incorrectly, should they get a perfect grade?

Here's my thoughts:

1) The goal of homework is to reinforce skills/concepts that we have worked on in class. It is not for me, the teacher, it is for them, the students to get better at doing their job (which is learn what they need to learn).

2) If a kid is SO GOOD (and it's extremely rare) that they don't need to practice, then I should not punish them for spending time practicing other subjects that they need to work on.

3) Copying is problem in ALL schools. I do not want to reward this behavior. I want to reward the fact that a kid took the time to learn/relearn/reinforce the SKILL, not the fact that they put someone else's efforts on a page during lunch.

4) The reinforcement argument assumes that the kid is doing the work correctly. But what if they aren't doing it correctly? Then they are reinforcing BAD HABITS, which is unacceptable.

So, how do I deal with all of these factors?

(First, let me say that my school is on an alternating block schedule- kids have 4 classes on A day and 4 different classes on B day. So, in essence, they have two days to complete homework to get the skills down.)

I assign homework EVERYDAY. Sometimes it's three questions (basic, medium, hardcore) and sometimes its fifteen (5 different problems at each of the three levels). I also give out a list of the answers with every homework. No work shown, mind you, just the final answers.

The following class, there will be a homework quiz. The quiz has both multiple choice and free responses questions and it's four to six questions BASED ON THE HOMEWORK. Not exact replicas, mind you, but assessing the same skills at about a B- level. The kids take the quiz during the first 15-20 minutes of class and hand in the answer sheet when they are done. They keep the question sheet.

After everyone has handed in the answer sheet, we go over the quiz right away. We discuss the answers and how to get them, we talk about different ways to tackle the problems, we learn from our mistakes and our classmates. We realize that homework has value- if we had completed the homework, we would have done better. Maybe some of us should stop by Mrs. G's room for extra help today?

Then we grade them. They grade their question sheet, I grade the answer sheet. Each question in worth one point, but the grade is out of twice that number. So on a six question quiz, if you get one wrong it's an 11 out of 12, two wrong is a 10 out of 12, etc. After they are graded, I throw them away. I used to keep them, but quickly realized that's not necessary.

I like it because I can quickly assess where my kids are and pinpoint misconceptions. It doesn't kill their grade- the lowest they can get is a 50%. The kids like it because they know where they stand right away and they can see how they are doing. Parents like it because they get an update everyday as to how their kids are doing BEFORE the major assessment (quiz, test, project).

Questions? Comments? Points of view? Thoughts?

Let me pose some questions...

1) What is the goal of homework, at its most basic level?

2) Should we punish kids that don't need to do the homework?

3) How can we be sure THAT student did the work and it isn't just copied from a friend?

4) If the student did all of the problems incorrectly, should they get a perfect grade?

Here's my thoughts:

1) The goal of homework is to reinforce skills/concepts that we have worked on in class. It is not for me, the teacher, it is for them, the students to get better at doing their job (which is learn what they need to learn).

2) If a kid is SO GOOD (and it's extremely rare) that they don't need to practice, then I should not punish them for spending time practicing other subjects that they need to work on.

3) Copying is problem in ALL schools. I do not want to reward this behavior. I want to reward the fact that a kid took the time to learn/relearn/reinforce the SKILL, not the fact that they put someone else's efforts on a page during lunch.

4) The reinforcement argument assumes that the kid is doing the work correctly. But what if they aren't doing it correctly? Then they are reinforcing BAD HABITS, which is unacceptable.

So, how do I deal with all of these factors?

(First, let me say that my school is on an alternating block schedule- kids have 4 classes on A day and 4 different classes on B day. So, in essence, they have two days to complete homework to get the skills down.)

I assign homework EVERYDAY. Sometimes it's three questions (basic, medium, hardcore) and sometimes its fifteen (5 different problems at each of the three levels). I also give out a list of the answers with every homework. No work shown, mind you, just the final answers.

The following class, there will be a homework quiz. The quiz has both multiple choice and free responses questions and it's four to six questions BASED ON THE HOMEWORK. Not exact replicas, mind you, but assessing the same skills at about a B- level. The kids take the quiz during the first 15-20 minutes of class and hand in the answer sheet when they are done. They keep the question sheet.

After everyone has handed in the answer sheet, we go over the quiz right away. We discuss the answers and how to get them, we talk about different ways to tackle the problems, we learn from our mistakes and our classmates. We realize that homework has value- if we had completed the homework, we would have done better. Maybe some of us should stop by Mrs. G's room for extra help today?

Then we grade them. They grade their question sheet, I grade the answer sheet. Each question in worth one point, but the grade is out of twice that number. So on a six question quiz, if you get one wrong it's an 11 out of 12, two wrong is a 10 out of 12, etc. After they are graded, I throw them away. I used to keep them, but quickly realized that's not necessary.

I like it because I can quickly assess where my kids are and pinpoint misconceptions. It doesn't kill their grade- the lowest they can get is a 50%. The kids like it because they know where they stand right away and they can see how they are doing. Parents like it because they get an update everyday as to how their kids are doing BEFORE the major assessment (quiz, test, project).

Questions? Comments? Points of view? Thoughts?

One of my former students, who is now a senior, came running up to me to tell me about his experience at an interview for an internship for a local architectural firm. He told of how he was asked to attend a meeting with a builder at a job site (on an interview? I know!) and he was asked his opinion about something in the plans.

His reaction: "Mrs. G, my opinion actually MATTERED! It was amazing!"

I'm wondering about that- why do students feel their opinion doesn't matter?

I think I am going to pay attention to see if I can find a student who needs this feeling as well. I'll give them an opportunity to feel like their opinion matters... maybe I'll work with them to create a seating chart or something like that....

Got me thinking, that's all.

Idea:

I sort my students into groups of four, based on how much they need me when they are struggling with a topic. Then I take groups of four and put their names in individual columns. Left most column is the 4 lowest kids that need the most help and the right most column are the kids that can pretty much figure stuff out whether I am there or not. These are their Color groups.

If I want heterogeneous groups, I just use the kids in each row. The groups are a little bigger, but I can easily them up into smaller groups by splitting the columns. If I don't like a group, I can move the column names around and mix it up.

Example:

Red Yellow Blue Green Purple

1 James Nicole Ginny Eamon George

2 Becca Andrew Phil Bridget Sammy

3 Joe Connor Nina Lauren Robin

4 Chris Colin Chrissy Grace Maggie

5 Jack Aiden Mike Rob Will

So let's say in the Yellow Group Ginny and Chrissy are in a fight because of Mike. Well, heterogeneously, they can just switch number groups and stay in their column.

For the first time in our school district, the students were assigned a summer review packet in reading and math. Apparently, the parents were not happy about this because a phone call went out to the whole district explaining that it was now no longer due the first day of school, but the 5th day of school.

What does this mean in terms of our community's ability to bully our administration? I know I have had a few parents that are demanding and it takes a lot of patience to logically get them to see the light. But have they bullied me? I don't think so. So why did the administration fold like origami? Maybe they didn't- maybe it just looks like they did. But even if it LOOKS like they did, that doesn't make me happy.

In the case of the summer packets, there was a phone call home and letters sent home in June telling the students and their families that there was work over the summer. The students all signed a paper saying they acknowledged they knew about the summer packet and that it was due on the first day of school as a homework grade.

Do I need to even tell you that more than half of my students in PreCalc and Geometry did not even open it before they walked into school the first day?

I am totally on the fence about work during the summer. I have two kids- my daughter is in 4th grade and my son is in Preschool. My daughter's school district did not have summer work, but there is a little part of me that wish she DID. But, summer is MY time with her to do fun stuff, not worry about deadlines and projects and such.

I did buy her a summer bridge workbook, which she hated. We fought. She won. It remains unfinished on her bookshelf. This should serve as a warning to me. Summer work = trouble. I know I should have been firmer and insisted she do it. But we were potty training my son and were doing construction on the house.

How many of the parents in my district had their own versions of potty training and house construction? Should their kids start the year with a zero for a homework grade because of it?

My daughter, Ginny is now a fourth grader and got a 75% on her first math assessment. I went through her quiz with her and she obviously knew how to do the problems she got wrong, but she, like so many 4th graders, is a bit flaky and flew through her quiz and made stupid mistakes.

I cannot help but wonder if she'd completed the summer workbook, would she have done better? Would she be more careful?

I bet there isn't a retake policy. So she is on probation at home. If she gets another math grade below an 85%, she gets grounded. I dunno if this is "correct" parenting, but it's what I am doing. I am also tempted to email the teacher and let her know what happened on the quiz and ask her that the next time they take a quiz to please not let Gin turn it in the first time, but give it back to her to check it carefully. I do that for many of my students, because sometimes inspiration comes just after the quiz leaves your hand.

My students all completed their summer packets by the fifth day of school. The assessment they took on it was disappointing, even though I spent 5 valuable days of classroom time on reviewing those topics. So was the summer packet helpful? I have 50 out of 100 kids scheduling retakes with me.

I'm not convinced.

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