Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week 5 Reflections

The weeks this year seriously feel like such a blur.  It's like "go, go, go" and come home to see Grayson.  I've been doing a really good job being productive at school during my prep and lunch so I don't have to bring much work home at all (except grading tests).  Hopefully I can keep this up.

Highlights for this week:

1. Starting the use of the "Today in class" sheet to help students set goals and hold them accountable for doing work.  See my post about that here.

2. Back to School night. While the turnout wasn't great (probably 11 parents total from my 107 Math Analysis students, and another 10-11 from my 61 Algebra 1 students), the night went really well.  I talked a little about the transition to Common Core and focused  on the purposes of the assignments students would be doing in my class.  I think having the communication lines open through the weekly parent updates has helped.

3.  Students re-assessing on concepts they failed and finding success!  I have found that students come to me so jaded from the traditional school system.  The "get my points in whatever way possible to keep my GPA up" mentality of years past instead of "let me show you what I've learned" mentality I want from them.  I don't make them retake a whole test if they failed, I want them to reassess on the concepts they did poorly on and show me they've learned.  I don't even require them to reassess on ALL the concepts from a certain test at once.  I just want them making progress towards mastering the learning goals, even if it's one baby step at a time.

4.  Students have their first student-created video due tomorrow, and the ones I've seen so far are great.  My instructions to them have been to fully work out the problem on paper first (written clearly, use colors, step by step), and then use a piece of paper to cover their work and uncover it step by step as they explain verbally what is going on.

Here are some samples (just the first few turned in, varying qualities)

Things to work on:

1. I literally have a few students who are scared to death of me.  They are afraid to communicate with me, they are afraid to ask for help on their blog, etc.  I'm not sure where it stems from and I'm really not sure how to break that mentality.  I know about it because their friends have told me, "Mrs. Kirch, _____ hasn't been doing the blog stuff because he/she doesn't know how and is afraid to ask for help".  Another example: I require students to print their own reassessment templates when they want to retake a test.  This is simply so I don't have to waste a lot of paper printing templates for students who may or may not show up.  I keep a few extras in my drawer for students who simply forgot or who had printer issues (and ask them to replenish what they took in the next couple days).  But, I had 2 students on Friday who literally woke up for their retake, realized they didn't print the template, and so were too afraid to come and retake it because I would be mad at them for not having their template. Seriously?  I had 5 other students who did the same thing, simply were honest with me that they either forgot or couldn't do it, and I gave them one of mine and asked them to replenish my stock by printing their copy for me.  This is definitely "something to work on", but I'm not really sure what to do.


This next week marks the end of the 1st 6 weeks grading period.  Two of my classes are doing great, and the other class still has a LOT of F's... the students are not showing up to reassess on concepts and I have to get to the bottom of WHY.  I think I may try to have some individual meetings with those students in the next 2 days and hopefully they will reassess this Thurs/Fri.  It's not because they aren't capable; they simply did poorly on the first test of the year coming back from summer and haven't taken the time to redo it.  Frustrating for me, but it has to be up to them at some point!

On a final note, I'm getting to the point in my Algebra 1/Course 1 where I feel like I am doing so much against my philosophy. I need to remove much of the instruction from the classroom setting so class time can be more student-focused and I can work with the students who need me the most.  It's just tough with a new curriculum, not even knowing what I will be teaching a month from now, and not having the time to make any videos.  We will see what I decide to do as the year goes on...

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