Math = Love: 2015-2016 School Year Resolutions

Friday, June 5, 2015

2015-2016 School Year Resolutions

Earlier, I shared with you what my students think I should Keep, Change, Start, and Stop.  After reading through their suggestions, I decided to make my own resolutions to keep, change, start, and stop in three areas.


Interactive Notebooks

KEEP the notebooks at the center of everything we do in class.

CHANGE how much practice ends up in the notebook.  In the past, I've had students do a problem or two in their notebooks and then moved to dry erase boards for the rest of the practice.  This means that the practice problems in the notebook tend to be much easier than the problems on the quizzes.  This was a big request of my students.  They want more worked examples to look back at.

START letting students use their notebooks on their quizzes.  I've done this in the past on occasion.  I've found that I tend to let students use their notebooks when they come into reassess a skill.  Why shouldn't I just let them use it in the first place???  Maybe this means students will take more ownership of their notebooks if they know they get to use it on the quizzes.

STOP stressing over table of contents and page numbering.  Let the kids make the notebooks their own.

SBG Grading System

KEEP making students redo all quizzes until they make an A or a B.

CHANGE the structure of my quizzes.  More quizzes.  Fewer questions.  I want my quizzes to have a uniform look throughout the year.

START and end the year with the same policy on homework.  No switching gears half way through the year.

STOP letting students retake a quiz right away.  Make them do something to earn the right to retake a quiz.

Classroom Management/Discipline

KEEP communicating with parents and my principal.  I actually started doing an okay job with this at the end of this past year.  Now, I just need to do it from the start of the year!  

CHANGE how I deal with whole-class misbehavior.  I'm pretty good at dealing with a student or two who are doing something they shouldn't.  I struggle, though, when my entire class seems to not be able to shut their mouths when I am trying to teach.  I need to come up with a plan for this and be adamant about following it from DAY ONE!  

START focusing on just a couple of things I want to get better at.  I need to pick 2 or 3 rules and enforce those every single day.  I have a habit of wanting to make 15 changes with classroom management.  I end up keeping none of them because it's way too overwhelming.  

STOP putting up with cell phone use at inappropriate times.  



20 comments:

  1. Thanks Sarah! I have been inspired to create a keep, change, start, stop manifesto myself. I really had to hold myself back and not make it too long. I want to focus on three or four keep areas!

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    1. It is so tempting as teachers to want to change EVERYTHING all at once!

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  2. I gave my Algebra 2 students a survey today and I got quite a bit of feedback that they wanted more difficult questions in their notebook as well. Hum. But it was unanimous that the notebooks are amazing and help a lot :) Hope you have a great summer!

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    1. I have always tended to start practice problems in the notebook and finish on worksheets/dry erase boards/etc. I'd never really stopped to think that this meant that the only recorded practice problems my students had were more introductory type problems.

      Hope you have a great summer too, Leah!

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  3. I've always let my Algebra 2 students use their notes on quizzes. They actually take good notes and I uses this as an assessment of "do they understand what they're writing down?" Tests are no notes, but quizzes are open notes :)

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    1. Hope my students are the same way!

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  4. I find the Homework Scoreboard is a great method for whole-class misbehavior.

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    1. Can you give more details about this? I've never heard of it.

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    1. It's changing constantly. In January, I stopped giving homework. And, I think I'm going to keep with the no homework policy for the new school year.

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    2. Can you elaborate more? What led to your decision? What were some results? Did you change your class structure to include more in class practice?

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    3. I really need to write up an entire post about this. First semester, I had a huge problem with students copying homework assignments. I was frustrated with grading papers when I knew that so many students were cheating. My grading piled up, and I wasn't getting the papers back to students in a timely manner. I stopped assigning homework and went to 100% in-class practice only in January. Most students preferred this. I found that most started taking better notes and paying attention to in-class practice. Some chose not to, and those ended up having to come in for extra help outside of class because they were getting not yets on their quizzes. A few students complained about a lack of practice, but most preferred having no homework. I'm going to try the no homework again from the start.

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    4. Hi Sarah. I've been teaching middle school (Algebra 1) for 8 years and am getting ready to transition to high school this school year. But the HW issue is something I hold near and dear to my heart. I don't grade it. EVER. HW is meant as a tool to practice what they've learned during the class. What if they go home and practice it the completely wrong way? I have always thought that grades should reflect mastery, not compliance. Normally, when I assign HW, I also post the answers so they can check themselves. If they do the HW, they will do well on graded assignments (CW, quizzes, and tests). If they don't, then they won't do as well, but they're not being punished twice (not doing HW, AND failing a graded assignment). For this reason, (and also to save my sanity), I stopped grading their notebooks. It became too time consuming. I allow them to use their notebooks on quizzes, so if they take good notes, they will do well. If they don't, they will fail. But again, they're not being punished twice (crappy notebook AND failing quiz grade). Just my two cents, but I struggled with a lot of the same things you are. Also...the classroom management thing killed me for a little while. Then, I realized it was more important for me to be respected than it was to be liked. Being liked came from our mutual respect for each other. Be consistent, be fair. If something isn't working, do not change it. Keep at it and it WILL work, you may want to modify slightly, but don't scrap it altogether. One of the best compliments I ever received was "she's not the nicest teacher, but she's the best." I've been following your blog since your first year. You are a great teacher!!!!! Keep up the fantastic work.

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    5. Thanks for so much food for thought!

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  6. I tried doing one unit SBG style. It about drove me crazy. The kids did worse on the re-takes than the original quiz! Kudos to you for making it work.

    I hear you on the whole class misbehaving thing. Let me know if you find something that works.

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    1. The way I combat kids doing worse is that I make them keep retaking every single quiz until they show mastery. Eventually, they have to buckle down and ask for help. It does make things more hectic for me, though.

      I think some kids thrive on a traditional grading system more than the SBG system.

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  7. I use INBs with my collaborative Pre-Algebra classes (I teach 8th grade Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1), and I get great feedback from students regarding the notebooks at the end of the year. I decided to use them with summer school kids this year, and they're enjoying them, too. I let students use their INBs on tests, because one of my goals is for students to learn to use resources/examples available to them. I do not do SBG, but I have a broad retake/redo policy. Before retaking a test students must fill out a "request to retest" and complete 3 learning activities related to the material. It cut down on "frivolous" retests, and I would say 90-95% of my students improved their scores after going through the process. Thanks for sharing your classroom. I did a couple of end-of-the-year reflection activities, and one of them was "Keep-Change-Start-Stop" after reading your blog.

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  8. For whole class misbehavior, I use the STOP method. I write the word STOP on the board and every time the class gets too rowdy (I teach 7th grade so it's usually them talking while I'm talking), I cross out a letter. Once I cross out the letter P, we shift to doing something more structured (read: worksheets, book work, etc). Since my students love the open discussion format of my class, they HATE this. Oftentimes, I see them try to self correct once I cross out the letter S. The only thing about this method is that you have to have a more structured assignment ready to go so that you aren't scrambling once you cross out P.

    BTW, I absolutely love your blog! I just completed my 1st year teaching (7th grade Science) and I looked to your blog for ideas on how to decorate my classroom, ideas on to engage my students, etc.

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    1. I LOVE the idea of the STOP method! Thanks for sharing!

      And, congrats on finishing your first year of teaching! So exciting!

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