I cannot believe how fast the end of the year has come. My oldest child is graduating high school, and if I wanted one school year to end slowly--this was the one. I'm busy trying to prepare myself for changes I want to make next year. I want more engagement by the students. I'm not sure how best to do that. I teach algebra 1 and calculus. I'm not looking to make any changes in calculus. Algebra 1 is the only state-tested math class, so I am a little afraid to go out on a limb and try a brand new class structure. What if my students' scores go down because I tried something new? I'm okay with failure if I'm the only one who suffers the consequences.
Some of the changes I've decided on are:
1. I got a grant for NewPath Learning, an online algebra review/remediation game-based program. I'm excited to have something "different" to use with my students.
2. I used Livebinders all year with my calculus class. I finally found a way to record lessons and save them on Livebinders for my Algebra classes. In calc, I only scan documents and put them in a livebinder as a resource for my students. I wanted a way to record "video" of me teaching and put it on a Livebinder for students to watch. This is my solution: With my iPad, I can take a picture of the notes/problems. Using the "ShowMe" app, I can record my voice and any annotations I make to the picture. After I'm done, I can email it to myself (very easily) and with the link in the email, I just cut and paste it into the Livebinder. Super simple, quick, and easy. I'm so grateful to have found something so easy and efficient.
3. I want to use the Livebinder to semi-flip my classroom. I want to have the students watch a preliminary video at home and then work on activities in class. I want to change the structure of lecture-worksheet. Students absolutely need the practice in algebra, but I think a lot of that practice can be done in class where I know the students are doing it themselves and not copying off their friends.
4. I really am bothered by the grading structure for my class. Currently it is 60% tests, 20% quizzes, and 20% homework. It's the homework portion that bothers me. Homework is just practice. Why do I grade their practice like it is a test? Is accuracy the only thing that counts? What about effort and improvement? What about those students who make a simple mistake on every problem, get a 30% on their homework, then I find their mistake, fix it and they never do it again? Does the 30% reflect their knowledge? It that fair? Is it important to penalize them for mistakes they used to make? I want to change to a standards-based grading system for my homework grade. I need to figure out a way to translate standards-based grading into a numerical grade, but I think I can come up with a fair way. Next year I will rely more heavily on tests and quizzes and treat homework like the practice it is.
I'm excited for next year, but I'm glad I have a long summer ahead.