Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog's Day

Well, it seems that I am not a timely poster. Bummer. I'll add more posts to my list of things I need to do. But enough of me and my many short's what I've done in the past month:

I've totally changed the way I've been teaching and I'm doing it with ideas from all my favorite bloggers. Once I've figured out how to go back and find whose great ideas I'm using-I'll do it. I just searched all my favorite blogs for 30 mins and couldn't find my sources. BIG TIME SORRY!

So, first of all I started back in January with the daily quiz over 2 homework problems instead of warm up problems. Then I quickly collect them, hopefully hand them over to one of my wonderful MTAs (math teaching assistants-paid college students) or a co-teacher. The quizzes get graded, recorded, and handed back in the shortest possible time. What are my amazing students doing while this is happening? They are getting better at sharing homework answers/problems with their shoulder partners. Of course some of them aren't, but there are some who really are teaching someone who sits near them how to do the homework. The students get their quizzes handed back within the 10 minutes of the bell ringing, and I give a jolly rancher for good scores. Students then have 2 minutes to find someone to help them correct their quiz. I've collected the quizzes and I have a wonderful record of daily comprehension that I'll give to parents at this month's conferences. Since we use trend grading, I'll "hide" all of these grades when I've given the Unit Assessment in a few weeks. I'm feeling Thumbs Up about this whole approach to homework.

I'll get pictures of what we've been doing each day with homework completion and class preparation. I think it's been a great way of using fraction/decimal/percent conversion and rounding and class competition. (note to self: bring camera to school)


  1. 1. A picture would make your blog sooo much prettier! People love pictures; get those little people out and pose them in the schoolhouse with captions of them saying silly things and you'll have people flocking to your blog! Maybe that could be your logo thing at the top instead of just that beige background. Maybe you know some super creative artistic genius type person who could make that happen? Like that other guy who's following you besides me, I bet he could do it.

    2. Something I have noticed about Lissa, which may be just her, or maybe lots of them are like this. It goes along with your jolly rancher thing but is not as obvious to the other kids. She LOVES it when she get a sticker or smiley face drawing back on a graded paper. Only the English teacher is doing that this year, but others have done it in previous years and she ALWAYS shows me when she gets one, and gets a bit jealous (she mentions it so that's obvious) if she notices that someone else got one and she didn't. Seems like something kindergartners would care about but apparently seniors in AP English Lit also covet positive feedback in the form of stickers and smiley faces. Or at least mine does. She also examines her report cards for comments. Not real comments, but those computerized numbers that teachers can add that have a code at the bottom explaining that "2" means "a joy to have in class" and "3" is "good quality of work." Last week's report cards were posted - she retained her #2 class rank and 1 and 2 are locked in now so she will be salutatorian. She was happy to see that, but was quite disappointed that only one teacher punched in a number to give her a positive comment. You'd think that all the A pluses would make be reinforcing enough but those computer coded comments are somehow much more personal (even though they have maybe 8 different comments that can be generated by the computer program, one of which is "fails to dress for gym" so not all are even positive and/or applicable to academic classes) and she keeps track of who took the time to click on a number to generate a comment, how many she got, etc..

    3. One of those other blogs you are following has some sort of green fork pen reward deal. I don't know what those are, but the teacher said they became sort of a status symbol in the school, probably since they were unique. Maybe you could find something similar for bigger rewards (while keeping the jolly ranchers too) for larger achievements, maybe for great scores on tests?

    4.Another one of your blogs mentioned a teacher who had a class chant to start each day. I really like that idea. I still remember my (yours too?) Spanish teacher at Glenbard would start each day the same way - with a back and forth mini-conversation "Buenas dias clase!" "Buenas dias professor!" "Como esta clase?" "Muy bien professor, y tu?" which is sort of like a chant thing and is probably some psychological bonding thing, like cheering or chanting at a football game or chanting a response at church or temple. I still remember how that Spanish class started every day, but I don't remember much about any other classes at all. I think the back and forth part is important. Maybe you start it, and then at some point in the future kids can take turns standing in front of the class and leading it - if they seem to like the whole thing. Maybe you work up to the class doing the wave? Probably no one else's class is doing that..

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