Archive for September, 2016

Formative Assessments

Posted: September 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

This year our PLC (Professional Learning Community) has been working hard to change how we determine students who need remediation. What have we done?

Well, I need to explain what we use to do. We use to just determine individually who we needed to pull into our class for intervention. We each had our own ways of deciding, sometimes just who we saw struggling or didn’t really “get” what we were currently teaching. It worked, but I know I wasn’t always focused on what needed to be retaught.

So this summer we sat and talked about our new standards and how we can make sure students are understanding what we teach. We set up dates to give formatives as well as created the formatives. We gave our first one last week. After we gave our students the formative, then we each graded our students’ formatives. We had talked about how to grade them so that we all graded them the same way.

We then sat down together and decided how we needed to split our students who needed the most help. What’s exciting is how we divided the students up.

Taking the students and placing them in three groups, we decided who would teach what. Yes, we are sharing students with each other. Instead of us all trying to help all of our students in the different areas that they need help, we are leaning on each other to help our students out.

Now, it’s the first week of students going to each other, but I feel that it is working. Students are getting a different view/explanation of the concepts that have been covered and may seem confusing, but many students have commented out it makes more sense now.

Does that mean their regular teacher didn’t teach it well? Of course not! What it means is that when students hear from another teacher, it helps them understand a little more and see that all teachers are there to help them.

As they year goes on, I’ll share more about this new process that we are trying this year.

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Self Grading

Posted: September 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

This summer I was looking at the websites of other math teachers in my district. I saw something that I liked and thought I would try it out this year.

When students are working on practice problems, we will grade them in class. As we are grading, students can make changes or notes on the paper as they need. At the end of grading, students will self assess according to the document below.

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We have talked about the fact that as a student, they could write a 5 on every paper. Then we discuss when I will find out if they were lying when writing the 5s. Is the unit test when you want me to know that you are not getting a concept?

As we have been using this in the past few weeks, students pull me aside and ask my opinion about what they should write. Some mention that they missed two questions, but they were silly mistakes and they see what they did wrong. They feel confident and have even helped others on their work. So they wonder what they should put because they feel like a 5, but since they missed 2, they aren’t sure. I then ask the class their thoughts.

Most of the time, students are harder on themselves then we as teachers are. I have had students who have written 2s on their paper, but when I give them another set of problems to work for me, they get them all correct.

So what do I do with these scores? Well, I do place the scores in the grade book (according to in the parenthesis) and as I do, I look at the scores. When students write 4s and 5s, I think “great job” and move on. When I see 3s, I glance through and see why they may have placed that. When I see 1s and 2s, I set the paper aside and look at it later. Most of the time, it’s just helping build confidence in the student.

I don’t have students grade everything, but when I do, it’s helping me see how they feel about themselves as well as getting grades into the grade book. It seems to be working and I have high hopes for this new way of grading.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever tried anything like this before?

I Am A Teacher!

Posted: September 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

This past summer I attended Nuts and Bolts where Debbie Silver stated:

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She shared this to remind us that we are important and that we should be proud of what we do each day.

So, I AM A TEACHER!

Now, for those of you who don’t really know what is going on in Oklahoma (except for the earthquakes), education has not been at the top of our state legislation agendas. They continue to take money from us, which is why class sizes average in the 25-35 range across the state.

We have teachers leaving the state because the pay has been bad and nothing has changed in many, many years. It’s so bad that this year David Boren, President of the University of Oklahoma, started a petition and now has on our November ballot to have a one percent sales tax increase to help with teacher pay raises in the state.

Is this the all out answer? No. Will it help? Yes.

What has me bothered is that this past week I saw that the city I live and teach in will be having a city council meeting on Monday. What are they going to talk about?

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-8-29-55-pmNow I know that most people think that a city saying to vote no on a sales tax increase can make sense. In fact, they’re saying that they are afraid that if we have this sales tax increase that it could make it difficult when we vote on a sales tax increase to help with city projects.

I understand your view. However, did you think about what it feels like you’re saying to me?

Everyday I walk into my classroom because I love to teach. I love helping students learn new things and to become better citizens. However, I feel like you, the City of Stillwater, may want to punish me because the State of Oklahoma legislation didn’t do their job.

Yes, you stated “The Oklahoma Legislature has repeatedly failed to adequately fund common and higher education in the state” and I agree with you. However, is it my fault?

By saying that you do not support this sales tax increase feels like you do not appreciate the hours that I put into my career. A career that is teaching our youth, not just about math, but how to be strong citizens and how to better themselves.

Not supporting this sales tax increase is saying that Oklahoma State University (with over 6,000 employees) is not important in our community. Over 20,000 students attend this university and without the sales tax increase, they may have to downsize (which they’ve been doing). Also, they are teaching students who will be teachers in the next 1-5 years. Right now, newly graduated teachers are leaving Stillwater and Oklahoma in hopes of higher pay. Do you want to kick people out of town?

I feel that we need to say YES to this question to help Oklahoma become a competitor in the education world. Right now there are so many AWESOME educators working their butts off! However, if we continue to get treated the way that we are, many more are going to leave.

I hope that you take a moment to think about how this effects teachers, parents, children and everyone else. This is not just about a future project that you may like, but it’s about the future of our city, state and most importantly our children.

Vote yes to State Question 779 on Tuesday, November 8, 2016!