Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reflections after 8 weeks of IMP

Areas for improvement:

  • Getting students to present their work
  • Getting through the lessons on time
  • Managing vocabulary - stopping and explicitly teaching vocab after we have "had our hands" on a concept or idea
  • Getting students to do their homework
  • Ensuring all group members are working when given time to work individually or with their group
  • Telling them too early whether or not they are correct
  • Letting the students correct/critique each other
Areas I am making improvements:
  • I'm taking students' pencils out of their hands much less
  • I am recognizing that it is okay to let them put incorrect work on chart paper (this is hard for me) -  however, when I do this and I allow the students to discuss their "findings" the STUDENTS can critique and learn to analyze and discuss their ideas
  • I am beginning to allow myself to divide assignments up where I assign a few problems to each group instead of having everyone do every problem. Picking and choosing the assignments is hard though. There are some that I want each student to have at least read and "struggled with"  before anyone starts sharing their solutions.
  • Celebrating different approaches
  • Giving a quiz that has depth but using a rubric so that success on the quiz is easier to achieve. I used to be scared to put too many "hard ones" on a quiz or test for fear that I would set the students up for failure. However, with our new curriculum every activity we do is based off a word problem within the context of the unit. I have found that my students are much more willing to attempt word problems now. The quiz I gave Friday had 2 multi-step word problems on it. That was it. These are types of problems that the students would skip if it were a 20 problem test and the other 18 were just computational. I made a rubric for the 2 problems and gave 5 points for each item (labeling axes, scaling axes, plotting points correctly, drawing the line of best fit correctly, generating the rule for the line, etc...).
  • Trusting the curriculum...I must admit that this is more of a "forced" thing right now due to time. There are times I think about stopping and pulling out old tests or other standardized-test-like questions to see how the students will do on them. However, I don't have time since we started using the Meaningful Math books 7 weeks into the year. I do believe in the curriculum - more and more every day. I do think that my students have really engaged with the content and will have a much better shot at retaining the information because of the way it has been presented within the context and revisited several times. 
  • I remember our Instructional Partner, Dr. Montgomery, telling me a few times in the past to create a project that covers several standards at once (when I was stressing about covering everything in the COS). Well, most of the activities in this book do that. Therefore, even though the activities are in depth and at first difficult to the students, they will have the opportunity to become "fluent" in them because they get opportunities to do the same type of activity multiple times. There may be a few tweaks to the activity but the topics are usually revisited. Especially the big ones. 
  • I have often said that the 2 most important concepts I want my algebra students to be able to understand (and retain) is graphing and solving all types of equations. Well, as far as I can tell in our new standards these 2 topics should technically be mastered prior to entering algebra. My interpretation of the standards is that once in 9th grade they must learn to APPLY their knowledge of graphing and equations. WOW is that covered in these books! The majority of my students are not proficient at solving equations and graphing when they come to me but hopefully they will be stronger every year.