Thursday, August 31, 2006

8/31 - back to school night

I was a little worried about some comments that I might get on back to school night. I now have my classroom set up where all the students are sitting in a group of four every day so that they can ask questions to each other. I have had the students work together in the past where parents have commented that their kids should be learning from the expert, not another kid. Last night, every person that I talked to seemed to really like the idea that the students were working together on a regular basis to get questions answered. There was not a single parent that had anything negative to say. I wonder if this will change into an excuse once they start taking more quizzes and test. I think that I am still fighting with many of the kids to feel comfortable to ask questions to each other. My upper classmen are starting to catch on for the most part, but my freshmen do not seem to fully grasp the concept of working together for understanding. They are still at the point where they are more interested in getting or giving the right answer and not asking why or how that answer happened.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

8/22 - properties

I was trying to think of another way that I caould teach all the properties that are introduced at the start of our Algebra 2 book. The students have seen most of the properties before but might not remember examples and names. I decided that I would try to have the students teach each other. I wrote out an example of 15 different properties and cut them out individually. I gave each student a different property that they had to define from the book. I had the students put their books away and go around to other students in the class and ask them to explain their property. The students seemed to do pretty well and not have many questions on the meaning of the properties, but I think my biggest problem was the students were rushed for time to complete all the properties. They started to copy them down instead of verbalizing them. It seemed to work and all the students were involved in the process. I will definately considering doing this more when there are multiple definition or properties that have to be covered.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

8/17-first day

I am changing my grading in my Algebra classes this year. All the algebra teachers decided that all of us are going to give 3 common assessments throughout the year. They will all be cumulative and tests will be given to all algebra students. The grading for the semester will be as follows:
Participation 15%
Practice 15%
Assessments 20%
Review Test 1 15%
Review Test 2 15%
Final 20%
I decided today that I will allow all the students to make up any work on their assessments in order to better understand why they are missing problems. I am hoping that this will help students to better understand the work that we are doing in class and they will show how much they understand when they take the common assessments. All the studnets in class were happy to hear this and all said they would take advantage of this. How many actually will?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

8/8 - book review

I read a book called "Algebra for Everyone" and found some interesting information that applied to all classes. There was a study done at Cal Berkley about the success of calculus students. They found that the number one factor in the success of the students was their participation in study groups. This helped to justify the changes that I made in my classes last year where I had students spend a lot more time working together with other students. Another item that I pulled from the book was giving group rewards for tests that are taken individually. It said that students could be put into group to study for a test and if every student in the group reaches a certain level on a test then the group receives bonus points. Another point seen throughout the book is the fact that students need to see more real world examples in math classes in order to achieve the buy-in from students and create more critical thinking in all math classes. This is a quick read that I think can have information for any subject.