Thursday, November 10, 2011
I really like it! I'm not sure if I worded it right but this is the jest that she was getting across to me when she was explaining the problem.
I was wondering if anyone had any other interesting brain teasers out there that wouldn't be totally beyond my students but that would make them think. I really love problems like this and my kids tend to like them a lot too!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
So what did we do the next few days in my class? The students wrote letters to the Board and Superintendent! :)
Here are snippets from some of the best letters!
This student is very respectful and up front with her feelings towards the grade changes.
I love the analogy, or is it a simile that this kid draws!
Thursday, November 3, 2011
It was super awesome that our superintendent realized that we are all kinda clueless on how to have students track their progress without using the gradebook. He actually answered my question with "I don't know"! He was truly honest for at least a second!
A lot of us showed up in total black to mourn the loss of so much that we've worked on for the past few years. Our principal even said that the it was evident that many of us are in mourning of a we have worked on.
While I was surprised by how happy I was that he admitted he didn't know what to do. Thank goodness! And thank God our schools administration is still behind us.
So the district tells us which unit to teach when. What we would do is then go through this lesson planning cycle (Oh and the TEKS are the standards the state gives us, we aren't joining the common core movement. That's a whole different blog!)
So, we would then design what we previously called our Summative Assessments, now our Unit Tests, and we would grade them by Category/Power Standard/Main Topic. We would also give the students Proficiency Scales to let them know this is what we expect them to be able to do by the end of the unit and this is what grade it will earn them.
So here's a screen shot of one of the old Summative Tests.
The TEKS or state assessed standard is listed, the type of question it is is listed (LR = Logical Reasoning, Alg = Algebra) and the level of the question is listed. At our school and in our PLC we would give the students all the tools to be able to do a Level 4 question but we would make them synthesize or evaluate their stance or defend/justify why they believe they had the right answers. Some of the students were told that to do the level 4 questions they would have to go above and beyond what is taught in class. I have spoken with many parents, students and administrators about that statement because I feel in Geometry that is a true statement. I can't teach a student to think logically, especially a teenager. I can show them the steps to make, but I can't make their brains function that way. Being able to put the pieces together and make a logical argument is something that everyone has to learn at some point in time and I feel is an acquired skill, but that's also a part of my teaching philosophy and very influenced by the fact that I teach Geometry.
So after the tests the students would get their tests back and fill out this chart to figure out what their grade was.
It was really awesome and the kids loved it! They could quickly see where they lost their points and if it was big conceptual mistakes or little things like forgetting a negative or the word not. Their grades actually meant something and the students were taking ownership of their own learning! Now did all of the teachers do this? No. But they all have to do it now, since we didn't meet AYP this last year and we have to have data showing growth and that we were targeting students based on their weaknesses and intervening as necessary.
The part about how we previously reported grades back to the students (and the part I'm really going to miss) is how our gradebooks looked.
We didn't put grades in as 1s, 2s, 3s or 4s so we always had to convert back to a grade between 0 and 100 (this was because of issues with the gradebook). But look at that!!! You can look at that and instantly say, "Oh, this child needs help with Congruence". It's right there in your face. You don't have to pick through the assignments and see which have low grades and what they're titled. And there's that study skills section at the end where I can report back how the students are behaving in class, if they're coming on time, bringing the necessary supplies, doing there homework, etc. (I didn't exactly get that set up for that grading period, but that's been thrown out too).
So that's what we WERE doing.
I know, we're Texas. We don't lead the change in systems or like to rock the boat in anything other than football and some other sports. I did get to make the point to some of the big people in charge last week after the board meeting we didn't get to speak at that the STATE gives us STANDARDS to teach. The STATE assesses the students on those STANDARDS and reports back scores on those STANDARDS. Is it that crazy to think, "hey maybe we should model our system like the state?" I'll go into detail about why this all blew up in our faces later but here's what's going on with my school now.
Now the titles in the gradebook in Blue are going to be Major and Minor. They're each going to be worth 50%. Major grades would be tests, assessments (even though I'm cautious using that word now since we can't say formative and summative anymore), and any projects. Minor grades are in class assignments, homework, knowledge checks, quizzes, and the likes. We no longer get to hand the students anything that tells them what their end goal is in each unit or what we expect them to be able to do. Instead of Proficiency Scales that we can share with the students we now have Objective Alignment Documents that no student can see (I even found a clipart that says CLASSIFIED on it yesterday and put it on the documents that we can't share anymore, tehehe -- I have to get my laughs where I can!).
So that's the big system that had everyone in a tissy, or however you spell it.
The reason it caused so many issues is that it wasn't properly communicated to the parents before the school year started, they felt like they had no say in what was going on and classes that had previously been an easy 100 the students had to work harder for those grades. Also in Texas we have this "wonderful" thing called the Top 10% Rule. It went into effect shortly before I graduated from high school in 2000. I had issues with it back then and I still have issues with it now. It says "If you’re in the top 10% of your high school graduating class, you’re eligible for automatic admission to any public university in Texas. " Because of this and the natural competition between class members in the high schools the parents want all of the students from all of the schools across Texas to be judged on what they think is a common ground and system. The parents are currently assuming that all of the other districts are still reporting grades back to students as Tests, Quizzes, and Assignments but they don't realize that they all actually aren't.
So this is where we stand.
I'll post later today some of the things the students wrote in their letters to the school board and superintendent. They have some awesome points! =)
Thursday, October 27, 2011
So the board decided not to let us talk tonight and we were given the directive to have grades in our gradebook be the traditional way of reporting grades by a week from Monday. I literally cried in front of one of our superintendents when I told them that they are adding at least 3 hrs of work and having to do separate data collection now. And I lead the group of teachers that are under fire by the Gov for not meeting AYP. She responded with "we didn't take our jobs because they would be easy." I was ready to punch her in the face and I'm not a violent person.
I'm not giving up and I'm not stopping but I need all the ideas and help from you guys. I'm not sure how to do this exactly but just cause they say I can't do it one way doesn't mean I'm going to rename it something and still do the same stuff. Any ideas or suggestions on how to do this on the DL are highly appreciated!
Dear Community Members,
I would like to thank all the community members who have shared their concerns regarding Standards-Based Grading (SBG). From the beginning I have admitted that we should have done a better job of including our XXXXX Middle School and XXXXXX High School parents in the discussions to implement the reporting of SBG. Even though the implementation of SBG was not a success I still have great respect for our principals and teachers at these campuses for their innovative thinking and desire to push the envelope and try something new to benefit their students.
While some components of SBG have merits and the potential to benefit our students it cannot be completely implemented in isolation. I have spent the past month learning about SBG and how it’s being implemented at XXXXX MS and XXXXXXX HS. A couple of weeks ago I was reluctant to end the implementation of SBG; however, I instructed these two campuses to return to the 0-100 grading scale. As I continued to listen to our parents I learned that the use of proficiency scales was adding to the confusion of the grading process.
After much reflection and guidance from the Board of Trustees I have instructed both campuses to stop the entire implementation of SBG. Beginning Monday, Oct. 31 teachers will begin transitioning away from SBG. The transition will conclude no later than Friday, Nov. 4, the last day of the six weeks. We have also asked teachers to review student grades for the past two grading cycles and verify that each assignment offered the opportunity to score a maximum of “100%” and not “90%.” I have asked principals to update their school community on the progress of this endeavor. If you believe your student’s grade does not accurately reflect his/her performance, please contact your child’s teacher and principal.
For future grades, teachers will spend next week preparing grade books to reflect a child’s grade on assignments and not a grade on learning goals. Beginning with the new grading cycle, Nov. 7, you can expect your child’s Home Access account to appear similar to grading prior to SBG. In addition, students will no longer receive rubrics unless it is a project-based or writing assignment.
My review of SBG also allowed me to review the retake/retest practices at XXXXX MS and XXXXX HS. Beginning Monday, Nov. 7 students will no longer have the opportunity to redo an assignment or test if they score above “70%.” I have instructed both campuses to follow district policy EIA which states students receiving a failing grade must be given the opportunity to redo assignments or exams. Students earning a grade below “70%” will be provided a reasonable and fair opportunity to retake or redo their assignments or exams.
As we plan for the future I will work with the Board of Trustees to review and develop district policies to ensure consistency among schools. Our current grading policy allows for significant campus discretion and through this SBG process it has become apparent that grading parameters are needed in policy to ensure uniformity across the district. Thank you for your patience and commitment to the success of all students.
I have a fire lit under me!
This of course happens on the same day that we lose our dear librarian in a fight against cancer. Her motto was "Fight Like Hell". Well, I'm bringing the fight.
If you pray, please pray.
If you chant, please chant.
If you sing, please sing.
Whatever you do for those you are thinking of please do that for me now. I'm walking into the lions den in about 20 minutes.
Hopefully our School Board listens to us and over rides his decision! They're the only one that can stop this now.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I need studies, I need citations, I need speaking points that show that reporting grades to students by Units and not Tests, Quizzes, and Homework.
I appreciate any help you can give me!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Let me give you a play by play of how this year has gone down. It's been an interesting year!
August Staff Development: About 3 days before the students were to return to school there was a presentation to the faculty and staff that we were going to be moving as a whole campus to grading with SBG. While we had been in numerous training sessions from the previous few years many teachers were unsure of how to write proficiency scales and implement them as well as the new grading on a 1 - 4 scale in the next week.
September 12: Open House happens and apparently a ton of mis-communication went on that night. That's when the parents really started to get riled up and the shi.... I mean the animal poop hit the fan.
September 28: First Open forum with parents to explain the grading procedure and policies. I wasn't there but a good friend was present and a presenter. She said it was like the Jerry Springer show! Parents were blurting out questions, there was cheering, clapping and tons of aggressive behavior. One man apparently got really frustrated that his questions weren't being answered and he wasn't getting called on so he ran to the front of the room and started hollering at our principal. That's apparently when the authorities were called (by one of my level headed students parents) and an officer came in to make sure that nothing got too out of hand.
October 13: This email is in my inbox when I get to school.
What does that translate to?
Oh, just before all of the kids in On Level classes got a chance to Retest for up to a 90 and AP students only got to retest for up to an 80. Now they all have a chance to get a 90! So issue #1. Issue #2, never in that correspondence does he state to stop the implementation of reporting grades to students based on Power Standards or Learning Goals. Just to stop grading on a 1-4 scale because the parents were getting confused.
Don't worry, the adventure isn't over yet!
October 18: Open Forum with Parents at our School Regarding SBG and the changes we've implemented. While it was still heated two teachers actually went up and stated their reasons for implementing the system. None of the parents actually processed what the teachers were saying and one parent said that the two sweet students that had stood up before her saying how much they liked this system were clueless! I wanted to give that woman a piece of my mind, or fist. Thankfully one of my friends was next to me and helped me keep my calm. There was still cheering, clapping, and even a standing ovation for one parent that honestly didn't make much sense to me.
October 20: School Board meeting with a time for public response. Two teachers talked and showed how they implemented grading by standards in their classroom. Everyone loved the middle school teacher's example but my fellow high school math teacher's example wasn't as welcomed and was criticized. But guess what, she didn't make those scales or test! It was a quick example created by someone else and it wasn't finished. *sigh*
Once again there were yelling parents, clapping, standing ovations, and the board had to redirect the parents by calling a point of order. They were warned that if there was another outburst that they would be escorted out by the officer. I was really glad I wasn't the cop then!
Oh and the parents that didn't like the system were all wearing red shirts. I felt like I was walking into a place to be slaughtered and I wasn't even planning on talking!
The most amazing part of the meeting was that the board, except for one member all said that they liked the rubrics being given to the students and they liked having the grades reported back to the students by Learning Goals or Power Standards. So when the Superintendent goes to summarize what he's thought and his views going forward he thinks we should just chunk it all. The board members were surprised and had to clarify to him that they wanted to keep the Proficiency scales and grading by Learning Goals.
I left the meeting in tears because I was so upset that we would put in so much hard work and get thrown under the bus so easily. Even the group of parents I bravely went up to and talked to after the meeting said they felt bad for us!
October 22: I get a text from my department head that EVERYTHING is on the table. The board and superintendent are considering mandating that we return to grading on Assignments, Quizzes, and Assessments.
So how did I spend my weekend you ask? Well, despite the massive migraine I had a research paper was drafted and articles were downloaded to be included in the email that I am about to send to the school board and our superintendent.
I'm sick of being told how to grade in my classroom without anyone talking to me or any other teachers! We didn't just decide that it would be cool to grade this way, we actually did the research. I'm so frustrated and I'm ready to just throw my hands up if I can't get anyone to listen to me.
Thanks for reading this all!
I just wish they would all read this article and take it heart!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
They were really memorable today!
Student: Oh my god Miss! I think I actually get this for once!
Me: I heard about your conversation with your mom the other day. About how you feel like I actually want you to learn.
Student: Miss, you really are! I've never felt like this before. No one has ever cared this much before.
Me: Don't you think SBG has helped you feel that way?
Student: Hmm, I think I finally get it!
Student: Yea, I figured I should just show up for the test today.
Me: Good! Because I was going to get directions from your brother if you weren't here.
Student: You never would have made it in my house, we have surveillance cameras.
Me: so? You were planning on still being asleep.
Student: I have lions though Miss. You never would have made it past them.
Student: Nevermind, it is you. You could probably tame them.
Student: Miss, I have a random question. What do your Keys kids do now that the TAKS is over?
Me: I make sure they pass the rest of their classes.
Me: And we watch some of my favorite movies.
Student: Oh, I'm really glad I'm not in that class then.
What does that say about my taste in movies?!
The parents had many concerns and they were very verbal about them. Some were concerned with giving kids a 1, 2, 3, or 4 as a grade instead of a number between 0 and 100, which that practice has now been stopped. Others were extremely upset that their student who up until this year has been making straight A's would be required to go above and beyond to push their grade from a 90 to a 100. But the biggest push of some of the parents and students was over the concern that it will impact their GPA and class rank.
The problem here in Texas and in our district is that students aren't simply given an A, B, C, etc for a grading period or for a semester grade. Instead they are given a numeric grade and in our district that number grade is what is used to calculate their GPA as well as their class rank. And of course in Texas we have the Top 10% rule where the students in the Top 10% of their graduating class are automatically given acceptance to any public university. I really want to sit down with some of these parents and students and show them how the math doesn't come out to a large statistical difference.
They're so uninformed and we aren't even using TRUE SBG! We've modified the idea of it to fit our crazy grading system here which keeps it from being the thing that the parents and students are so gung ho against.
Sorry, I just had to vent....
Sunday, October 16, 2011
It still hasn't totally registered to me, even though I've really enjoyed the nice cushy parking spot (that happens to be farther from my room than my normal spot), I loved the flowers my mom sent me (12 long stem roses) and I have the award that now sits on my desk.
Just had to share!
Oh, and here's the flowers...
and the award....
I just want to reinforce that the following is my opinion and in no way reflects the school I work for.
Things were not communicated clearly to some of the staff, even though we have all been trained on it for the last 3 years.
Things were not communicated clearly to the students.
Things were not communicated clearly to the parents.
As a result this is now the front of our districts webpage... Public Hearings Scheduled on Standards Based Grading.
It's SOOOOOOOO frustrating to spend so much time over the past 3 years studying, implementing and tweaking a system in a few short weeks because of some uninformed teachers and parents the district has pulled the rug out from under us.
We are literally having an uprising from the parents who think we're just bringing the bottom up and making it more difficult for the students to make perfect 100's.
Here are the questions that the district is currently fielding from parents.
All of this happening in the month that I get named "Staff Member of the Month" for my school makes me really frustrated and upset with how it is all being handled by my district.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Geometry Stuff: http://www.box.net/shared/35ddanvx8n
Keys to Math and Test Taking Stuff: http://www.box.net/shared/kxv63cnnhv
More to come will be for Alg 1, Alg 2 and 8th grade math.
I hope everyone has an awesome Friday!!!
Well I wanted to share with you guys what has saved my butt this year. It may seem simple and logical but sometimes I'm not the most logical, even though I teach math.
So basically my students are able to turn in late work at any time without any penalty. It has proved to keep me busy with making copies and getting it out of the file cabinet. So out of frustration one day I finally said "here! Here is all of the assignments that you have had. They will always be at the front of the room if you need them. If you take the last copy let me know."
I love it AND it helps promote self advocacy for the students. They have know what they need and they have to find it themselves.
Just wanted to share my tidbit of knowledge for today :)
I hope everyone has a great Friday! More blogs to come soon!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Yes, my doctor sent me home from an appointment last Wednesday with a diagnoses of the flu (no, I did not get my flu shot) and told me I couldn't go back to work until Monday. Well, luckily we had Monday off so over my 5 day weekend in between watching bad tv and clearing out my dvr I got even more hooked to Angry Birds. And then I had an ephinany.. and ephifany... and epifany... ugh, a genius idea!
Angry Birds -vs- Math!
Our state mandated test required to graduate college is quickly approaching (30 school days and counting until the next retest for the seniors) and I need a clever way to suck the kids into doing some not so fun math.
Over break I justified hooking my 6 and a half year old nephew and four year old niece on Angry Birds by saying 1 - they aren't fighting any more and we can keep them in separate rooms this way, and 2 - they're getting exposed to physics and math already! (And yes I started throwing things up in the air to illustrate a parabola to both of them and they got it!)
Well, if they can get the math from it then my students can get it too!!!
So I'm on a mission. Millard's TAKS Camp: Angry Birds -vs- Math version is now in developement.
Oh yea, and TM and circle that. I'm trade marking it :)
I'll let you know how it goes and I'll post it once I'm done!
PS Maybe later I'll explain how awesome of a stress reliever it is after some of my days at work. Not to mention how much my cats love listening to the sounds from it.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
After getting lesson plans together for my substitute for my Geometry classes I realized I needed to have something that appeared fun to my Keys kids who can't solve equations, but also re-enforced their algebra skills.
I haven't found much luck with worksheets yet BUT I did find some fun math games!
If you go here there are equation solving games, problem solving games, and more. Some of my favs:
- Millionaire Game for solving equations (multi-step)
- Postman Mail This is more about substituting values into an expression but it's got a cute dog and a random old guy in a towel.
- Mystery Picture Game
If you know of any fun games or activities please let me know!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
I know that most of this is not school or classroom related but I figured out last night that if I don't get this down in writing somehow then I will probably forget the week and this has to be one of the toughest weeks I have ever had.
I'll start at the beginning.
We get back Monday for a teacher workday and our principal is talking us through the "let's get pumped up for the story and share some positive things" regular schpeal (I have no clue how to spell that). At the end of the meeting he tells us that he has a few last things to let us know. Our new librarian, a young-well my age young-enthusiastic and awesome person had her baby Christmas Day. The down side of this is that she found out that her melanoma had spread and she had four new growths.
Also, four of our better senior boys were in an accident New Year's Day trying to help out some girls who had run out of gas in downtown Austin. They had some gas to put in their car in an open container (I know, not the smartest thing). And then someone in the cab of the truck decided to light a cigarette (again, not the smartest thing). Turns out one of the boys in the accident that was severely burned is the older brother of one of my step team girls. Two of the boys were able to get out of the car with minimal injuries, the other two have burns on 40 - 60% of their body.
On top of the not so great news when I got back in town after being home with the family for break one of my cats decided to start peeing on my bed. I have no clue why but she has even done now once on me! The comforter and pillow top mattresses are now at the dry cleaners getting washed in hopes of getting the cat pee smell out of them.
Oh and then on Wednesday after staying much later than I anticipated and getting a lot of work done I walk out to my car and notice that my hubcap looks really close to the ground. As I get closer I realize that it looks like it is on the ground! Yep, tire totally flat! Thank goodness for Roadside Assistance!
So that's pretty much everything in a nut shell so far. I hope everyone else is having a better year so far!