Friday, March 6, 2015

Quiz retakes and Mystery Bags

Today my Algebra IB students retook their quiz on systems of equations. The majority of my students improved their grade. This semester I have taken two concepts so far and worked hard to try to ensure that my students have mastered them. (This statement actually has me shaking my head...I promise I hope that all my students master all of the topics...but in my experience with struggling math students that doesn't happen.) One of them was graphing lines. We gave them a quiz and then gave the students individual feedback on what they missed. Then we gave a retake for all students who did not ace the first quiz. We did the same thing with systems of equations (substitution and elimination). This topic seems to really get the better of my students every year.

I have been "transforming my teaching" for a couple of years now. For years I taught a topic and then tested it and moved on. There would be some times that I could tell that the students were struggling with a topic and I would reteach it or spend extra days practicing. However, once I taught it and tested I moved on. Well...I still think that you can't sit a topic until every student gets it. I wish I could. However, we would never cover the required objectives if we do that. Sometimes my students either don't care enough to get it or do not come to school enough to get it. So...I have tried to do a better job of giving smaller quizzes on a few topics and then giving the students individual feedback. After the feedback they are given at least one opportunity to retake the quiz (possibly more). I wish we had the time and opportunity to do this with every topic. I truly believe if my students would pay attention in class, do all of their work, and ask questions when they don't understand so that I can help them at their points of confusion they would ALL PASS. However, I do not teach in a perfect world. I do not have perfect students who come to class prepared and ready to learn each day. Also...my students do not have a perfect teacher. So...until these things change I am going to continue to take a few topics each 9 weeks and give students individual feedback with the opportunity to retake. If any of you reading this blog (all 2 of you - haha!) have any ideas that might help this process to be less painful please shoot me an email at towens@attalla.k12.al.us. I thought I would ask...just in case...

Today my 5th period continued working on the 2nd mystery bags activity in Overland Trail. This is definitely a place where we will need to pull extra practice on solving equations. I think that if your students come to your algebra class and they can already solve one and two-step equations successfully then you won't have to supplement as much. However, many of my students still struggle solving basic equations. Therefore, after the More Scrambled Equations and Mystery Bags activity I think I am going to do a quick quiz to assess their fluency on one and two-step equations. The Mystery Bags activities have actually taken them through working on equations with variables on both sides. However, students will need more practice on equations that involve subtraction (integer coefficients). I really believe that referring back to the Mystery Bags context will help. We will see!