Archive for October, 2010

SBG: A School Wide Effort

October 26, 2010 2 comments

My Principal sent me an email today with a link to White Pine High School in Ely, Nevada.  I’ve never heard of Ely, Nevada, but I would love to visit after reading their website.  This school is implementing an Outcome Based Grading Plan school wide.  They present a great argument with several examples and research defending the need for a different grading plan than what schools traditionally use.  There is a wonderful rubric explaining the four point SBG scale.  (If you are looking for a rubric to show students and parents, this is a great place to start.)

One of the things that I found most interesting is that the school is transitioning to a SBG format in two phases.  I have to agree that it is a shock to eliminate grades or go to a 0-4 scale without educating the community.  In my town, one elementary system went to this and everyone assumed 4 = A, 3 = B… and this is not the case.  In a traditional grading system, the grades are not evenly distributed.  An F can be a 55% or a 0%.  The 0-4 scale distributes the grades evenly.  The school is offering community sessions throughout the year to explain this to the public and answer any questions that arise.

I haven’t talked to anyone from the school directly, but I am anxious to find out the results of this project.  If anyone has any connections at White Pine or any insight on school wide SBG, I would love to hear about it.

Categories: General, SBG

Fringe Geometry

October 24, 2010 2 comments

I spent this summer catching up on Fringe and it is now my favorite TV show.  I was watching this episode the other night and was so excited :with the math involved.  I always have a difficult time teaching students the relevance of constructions.  Well, here it is.  I decided (in classic Dan Meyer style) to try to make a lesson out of it.  I am not teaching Geometry this semester, but next semester, here are my plans:

1.  Show clip and stop at 2:05.  Hand out maps of Boston.  Assign each student two major land marks on map and have them complete what Peter is doing with his map of Boston.  (The addresses used in the Fringe episode are not accurate.) 

2.  The students must first take the two points assigned to them (for example, Boston Univ. and the Convention Center) and label two possibilities for equilateral triangles.

3.  The students must find the center of the triangles.  If the students seem stuck, I will show them how Peter discovers his centers.  We can then discuss that Peter actually uses the incenter and not the circumcenter.  Does it really matter in this case?  Why or why not? 

I can’t wait for next semester.  (I apologize for the watermark on the video.  I’m using a free trial right now to cut out clips from DVD’s.)

Categories: Geometry

Making It Up To My Students (SBG Style)

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I have missed a ton of school lately.  I feel really bad.  I have taught for 10 years and yet this year seems to be my most difficult year balancing family, self, and career.  I am teaching two honors classes so this doesn’t help matters.

It started a few weeks ago when I woke up feeling like I was having a heart attack.  I took some pain meds and went to school the next day.  The pain subsided, but I couldn’t eat.  I went without eating for 3 days because I didn’t want to miss school.  (I know, crazy and stupid.)  My husband took me to the hospital on Saturday morning for an emergency gall  bladder surgery.  The doctor said to take a week off.  I was back to work on Wednesday.  (Crazy and stupid.)  I made it til Friday and had to leave early.  A total of 2.5 days out that week.

The following week I went to Nashville to help write and edit the EOC test for Algebra 2.  Three days missed that week.

This past week, my sister had her baby.  I wasn’t about to miss it.  I was gone 1.5 days.  It is now a grand total of 7 days out.  This is way too much for a block class.  I am feeling really guilty.

So, I decided to make a small part of it up to my students this past Friday.  We had a half day on Friday and each class was only 40 minutes long.  I gave every student a chance to retest 3 different standards of their choosing.  I put a list of standards on the board with 3 even problems chosen out of the textbook for each standard.  The students were able to choose three standards, for a grand total of 9 problems to be worked that day.

I was surprised with the results.  Some students improved their grades, but several did not.  I guess I came to the realization that students need to retest on their own timetable.  I can encourage them, but not push them.  This is frustrating on my part.  I’m not sure how to retest my students as a group with maximum effectiveness.

This is also where the frustrating part of teaching arises.  I feel like in any other job, I could have taken the time off and not felt so much guilt from my students, parents, and myself.  To be a teacher is to serve the public.  I know, I chose this.

Categories: Uncategorized

Textbook Review

October 8, 2010 2 comments

This is adoption year for new textbooks for math in the State of Tennessee.  Yes, that’s right, the entire state of TN adopts new math textbooks at the same time.  The textbook companies host dinner parties and show off the new books.  I attended my first dinner last week.  I was really impressed with what I saw.  The company offered online versions that are completely interactive.  I also won the TI Navigator software as a door prize.  Not a bad night.

I am serving on the textbook committee for my school system.  It is an honor and stressful at the same time.  I spent my planning period the other day meeting with another textbook company.  Not as impressed, but still good things. 

It is nice to see the textbook companies aligning the textbooks to the new national standards.  I see this as being a great thing for the blogging community.  It will be nice sharing resources and knowing that we all are held to the same standards.  I’m wondering how long we have until we have a national standardized test.  This does scare me, but for reasons I can’t put my finger on yet.  I know this will be a huge issue in years to come.

Fo now, I’m looking for a book that is user friendly for the kids and me.  Right now, I don’t use the textbook at all, and it is a ton of work.  I want an interactive, webbased resource that I can use on my smartboard.  I want the ability to sort test questions by standards or topics so I can create assessments and retests for SBG.  I want a text without pseudocontext

I’m putting a request out there for all my fellow bloggers and blog stalkers.  If you use a textbook that you love, please let me know.  You can add your suggestions to the comments.  Please let me know why you love it.

Categories: General