Thursday, November 18, 2010

Math 10C

Next semester, I will be teaching Math 10C for the first time.  I am extremely excited about the new course but I'm also a little scared.  There are so many decisions I need to make and things I need to prepare for.  Luckily, there will actually be another teacher teaching the same course at the same time as I am.  Woohoo!  When you teach in a small rural K-12 school, this seldom happens.

I know that I have a lot to learn.  I have to change my teaching style and this is definitely something I'm looking forward to.  I know that many teachers get scared when they're asked to change.  I'm looking forward to it.  I know that I can be way better than I am.  Right now, I spend way too much time talking/teaching.  I know that I need to step back and give that control to the students. 

Based on that, I have decided to quit my job as a math teacher.  I am rehiring myself as a math coach.  I think this will help me really embrace the new format.

One thing I know I will be doing was suggested by another teacher teaching Math 10C.  She creates pairs of cards with math concepts on them.  Students have to figure their card out to figure out their partner.  For example, one card might say p^(1/2) and the other card might say radical 2 (image the proper symbols there).   This is done each and every day so students are always switching partners.  This teacher posted her first 3 pairing activities and I've already had my work experience student create and laminate those.  Now, I'll just have to make more.

My main focus right now is deciding what order to complete the curriculum in.  The following are the formats I know some are using.
  1. Work through it in the same order as the curriculum:  Measurement, Algebra and Number, Relations and Functions
  2. Work through each unit for a specific number of days.  (Example 2 weeks).  When the time is up, move on to the next unit.  Repeat.
  3. Create units of study that pull from all 3 units.
All of these sound reasonable.  All have their pros and cons.  I could see having a lot of fun with the third choice.

The second issue I'm relooking at is assessment.  Right now, we have a lesson.  The next day, students are given a short mini quiz (1 or 2 questions).  They can rewrite the mini quiz as many times as they want until the exam date.  Then, they write an exam.  I don't take in homework for marks.  I used to go around each day and give a mark out of 5 based on how much of the work they had completed.  This would be recorded in the gradebook that parents could access but it would not actually count.  It was just a way to let parents know their child's work habits.  I felt this way, students could complete as much or as little as they wanted/needed to but they would be held accountable if their marks started to drop.  I dropped that this year as I found a lot of time was used up checking all of these and their report cards got really, really long. No parent ever made a positive or negative comment regarding this practice.   I may or may not reinstate this.  I haven't decided yet.

So, where do I go with assessment?  Keep the mini quizzes?  Ditch them?  What's the best way to assess the problem solving that's going on in the classroom?  This is especially made difficult as students will be working with partners.  I find this difficult to wrap my brain around.  How do you give equal marks when you suspect students aren't pulling their fair share?

So many questions...so many answers I am still thinking about.  Any suggestions?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sandi,
    I have similar concerns as I began teaching grade 6 math this year. I want my students to be engaged and learn math in a fun and interactive manner. This is ideal, however, then I panic .... will the students do well on their P.A.T.? Should I be focusing on multiple choice problem solving questions? I am trying to "do it all" and then I find myself falling a bit behind. I am also learning that it takes my students a bit longer to get through a lesson, and if I try to rush them along, they do not understand the concepts as well as they should. I, too, am in a dilemma but I am finding that students learn when they are interested, engaged and motivated - therefore as an educator I need to ensure that they are interested, engaged and motivated. I also need to worry less about the P.A.T. (as no one is putting this pressure on but myself). I need to sit back, relax and enjoy the learning opportunities alongside my students.

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