Sunday, January 4, 2015

Proficiences, Blended Learning, Personalized Learning, STEM and Technology

These are the things I have been working with all year.  Standards Based Grading is going just fine and I am developing ways to use online resources in a personalized way with my Algebra 1 students.  I am hopefully training the students to use online resources in a professional way to further their own learning goals by creating a well organized database of videos, self paced problems and class resources.  I liked this blog post about MOOC's (Massive Open Online Courses), I believe that being able to learn from others effectively on the web is becoming more and more important and I'd like to train my students to do that.  Our entire school is going toward Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements and I believe that web based resources can be very useful in personalized and self paced learning.  Most of my innovative efforts in algebra this year have been around this topic.

I teach in our math computer lab, so I have access to computers while students are in class.  I am working on a blended approach to personalized learning where I set some time aside during the regular class for students to work on material that their standards based tests have indicated some shortcomings in.  One of the resources I use is videos that I have made with Explain Everything.  This is a fantastic iPad app (also available for Android recently) that allows you to make videos explaining a topic.  Something I would like to do is use EdPuzzle to embed quizzes in the YouTube videos, but it just hasn't happened yet.

I would like for the students to have tablets so they could access this material any time they have a web connection, but this isn't cheap and my school isn't jumping right into one to one for all students.  The tablets I am interested in are the Galaxy Note and the Surface Pro.  I would like the students to be able to write math problems with a stylus and keep it all their work in a OneNote notebook.

As our entire school goes towards Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements, I have been considering a change from SBG to another method of learning that uses my standards as learning targets and uses the standards based quizzes more as a formative assessment.  The actual grades would be more connected to summative assessments (ie unit tests).  I understand that some folks have been using Schoology for this sort of thing, I will be looking into this further.

Along with the algebra 1 work, I am in my second year as our STEM Academy leader.  There are 55 students in the Academy and I am very busy developing a program that allows them to pursue their interests in science by participating in a STEM Advisory, Internships and doing a capstone project.  The state of VT has mandated Personalized Learning Plans for all students beginning in fall 2015 for our freshmen.  This Academy approach is one possible way for students to receive a personalized learning pathway, there are many exciting things developing at our school right now as we try to figure out how to make learning more meaningful for all of our students.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

SBG is going to be much better this year

I've just graded my first SBG quiz this year, I think I have made some big improvements. The first is using a nice rubric, I like this one I found on Sam Shah's site.  Last year, I was doing a hybrid of taking off points like I used to and SBG.  It was okay, but it wasn't great.  I think a clear rubric of how I define mastery will result in a much better conversation between the students and myself and a clearer path to learning for them.

We have changed our Common Core Algebra 1 class slightly, so I changed the list of standards, click here for the new one.

Each standard appears in class three times over three consecutive weeks, if they want to retake it after that, they need to submit a Google form which alerts me with an email.  This form shows me which of the retake requirements they have chosen.

Most of these items can be found on my Practice by Standard page, shown here

Monday, September 1, 2014

Second year of Common Core Algebra 1

Our department modified our Algebra 1 curriculum last year for the common core. This will be our second year of this course and we decided to remove the statistics unit. We have decided to offer one Prob and Stats course that covers all of the CCSSM standards rather than address them in little bits over our entire math curriculum. This frees up some time in our Alg 1 class, we would like to use this time to do a better job with the mathematical practices. We will be doing a section on math patterns at the beginning of our functions unit, this will build a stronger conceptual understanding of what a graphed equation is describing. We will also do absolute value graphing using translations and introduce the vertex form of quadratic equations. Both of these sections should helps students with the kind of translational thinking that will be at the heart of the new CCSSM Geometry course we are teaching for the first time this year. I have modified the Alg 1 book to make the stats unit an appendix and I have added a unit on patterns and translational graphing of absolute value.

Algebra 1 EHS 2014-2015, no Stats

Warm Ups

I've seen some conversation about warm ups in other recent blogs, I use Kuta software to generate multiple choice worksheets and use clickers in self paced mode. The students do the worksheets and put in their answers while I'm checking hwk, handing back papers, etc. I do most problems from recent work, but I will be spiraling in problems from older lessons, as inspired by Kathryn's session at TMC14. I review the results of each question (histogram, not individual students) with the students immediately after they are done. This is valuable formative assessment and the recording of results helps the students to take it seriously. I plan to start working in more open ended question warm ups (Math Arguments180, etc) as the year moves on.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Algebra 1 Resources

I have been using MindMeister to make a mindmap of the resources I find. I like the mindmaps, the node concept works with my thought patterns. Click here for the link.

Monday, August 4, 2014

First semester of book and videos finished

I have finished updating the book for first semester, that is units 1 through 4.  I will work on units 5-7 as the school year progresses.  I made significant changes based on last year's run through the Common Core

The videos for first semester are also ready, they are posted on my "Practice by Standards" page.  They aren't really all that entertaining, I'm not expecting the world to beat a path to my YouTube channel, but I do think they get the point across and they will be useful for students who need to retake a standards based quiz.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Algebra 1 plans, post TMC14

I am working pretty hard this summer in my never ending quest to make my Algebra 1 class a place where all students can learn. In 2014/2015, I will be using SBG for the second time and I will be using the second edition of the book I am writing on YouTube videos of my teaching will also be available online. This will also be the second year of our new Common Core Alg 1 curriculum, I don't think I did a great job teaching the 8 Mathematical Practices while I was trying the new curriculum for the first time. My plan for this year is to try to improve that, but it is difficult to find the time with all of the skills that are still required in the CCSSM. I will need to cleverly work them into instruction and classroom procedures.

So here's a quick synopsis of thing I am thinking of doing, some new ideas from TMC 14 will be highlighted, along with where I heard them.

First day, I may start with a slide show about me, this is from John Mahlstedt's Favorite Thing presentation.  I hesitate a little 'cause I don't want it to be all about me, but I do think it could help build connections.

Daily Agenda, always write the date as a math problem, also from John Mahlstedt.

I usually start class with a clicker warm up on the previous days lesson.  I liked Kathryn Belmonte's idea to spiral through previous units in the warm up.  I will still use the clickers, but I think it will help with retention to have old units continue to show up randomly.

I had changed by SBG grading scale from 0-4 to 0-10 for more flexibility in grading.  From general conversations with folks, I think it's better to use 0-4, I just need a better rubric.

I still like my SBG/resources online/YouTube video plan.  A fellow teacher in one of the sessions I went to reminded me that parents will possibly use the videos as a refresher if they wanted to help their child.  I think that will happen and I like the idea.  The same teacher also suggested putting the videos on iTunesU so they could be downloaded if there was a problem with internet access at home, good call.

Just before TMC14, I went to a Global Math Dept presentation on SBG, Matt Owen showed a slide with the list of things students need to have before they can retest

I will be making a modified version of this, but I think it's a great start.  Jessica (@Algebrainiac1) also suggested they fill out a Google form when they are ready so you know they are coming, I will probably do the same.  I also think a list of things they have to do to retest can help solidify classroom procedures.

The discussion in my morning Algebra 1 sessions about assessing functions were very useful.  I plan on doing a much better job of teaching functions this year.

One of my alg 1 classes has a lab associated with it, I liked some of the ideas in Kathryn Freed's intervention session, I will probably put them in groups with whiteboards and let them work.  I will make the groups based on what they need to study from SBG results.

I liked the work that Mathalicious and Illustrative Math are doing to make lessons that are both Common Core and PBL.  My curriculum needs more of this kind of thing and I will be looking those over.  I also hadn't heard about Robert Kaplinsky's lessons, I need to look through those.

I learned about Desmos at the Anja Greer conference at Phillips Exeter last summer.  I used it a little, but there was a giant buzz around it at TMC 14, I need to use it more in my PBL quest.  I think that will be easier when my school goes 1 to1 (hopefully) next year.  I will try a few lessons to get a feel for it.

Just as a general thing, there are a very large number of algebra 1 resources on Pinterest, I didn't realize that before.  Lisa Henry's TMC Pinterest board got me looking and there's a lot of good stuff.

Another My Favorite Things was on  I use it, but I don't use the links to the extent that the presenter did.

I need to look through the session pages in the Wiki, I'm sure there's lot's there.

As far as future communication goes, my Twitter skills improved tremendously.  I met lots of people and it's much easier to understand the communication flow.  I have a better idea who to follow and I'm better with lists and TweetDeck.  I'm also more clued in about blogs as well.  Dan Meyer's presentation gave me a better feel for the MTBoS and who's in it.

I thought there was a lot of power in Steve Leinwand's presentation about emphasizing the WHY over the HOW.  I would love to teach math that way, he made sixth grade math sound like the subject I really want to teach.  CCSS alg 1 still has so many skills in it, I think my school is a long way from that kind of teaching as a whole, but I'd like to strive towards it.