Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9/30: Summary and Reflections

Today with our 8th graders, we further explored the Converse of the Pythagorean Theorem and the Distance Formula. I am very happy that the students do seem to be getting these rather advanced topics. I am happy that the students feel safe and comfortable to ask questions, but I need to balance that with an ability to try problems on their own. This a skill that will be ongoing throughout the year. I do think we are going to do well on our Unit 1 Test Friday.
I am thrilled that a good number of students submitted corrections from our first quiz today. This will allow them to retake the quiz once I look through their work and provide feedback. The group work today was productive because I was able to meet with the students who did not do well on the formative assessment yesterday and explain to them where their errors were. The one on one time is crucial. I am working hard to make that a staple in every class period.

Our 6th graders are doing a great job with Order of Operations. We still need to remember our rules for multiplying and dividing, but we are getting there. Our decimal test Friday should go well as long as we remember that we need to line up the decimals when we add and subtract.

The 7th grade is winding down their Unit on Number Sense with some work on multiplying fractions and decimals. We are also still working on adding and subtracting after reviewing the formative assessment we completed on this topic. I would like to move that average from the current 75% to over a 90%. I am going to make a point of meeting with the ones still struggling with this either in small group or individually to provide feedback.
We will be tackling dividing fractions and decimals tomorrow. I would like to wind down this Unit Friday, but will push back the assessment if I do not have evidence that the students are ready.

Monday, September 29, 2014

9/29/2014 Summary/Refelction

Today in 8th grade we introduced two new concepts: The Converse of the Pythagorean Theorem and Using the Pythagorean Theorem to find the distance between two points on a coordinate plane. The classes seemed to do very well with both concepts. I will need to use the assignment in a couple of days to see how well they actually did understand both concepts.

In addition, we reviewed Using Pythagorean Theorem. The Formative Assessment I used showed that the classes are solid (95% get it when asked to find c), but only 70% get it when they have to find one of the legs. Therefore, we will need to do a few more example problems tomorrow before our end of chapter test Friday. Lastly, I handed back their quizzes from Friday on Estimating Irrational Square Roots and Classifying Rational/Irrational Numbers. Students can retake either part of that quiz once they meet with me to go over their corrections.

The 6th graders are finishing up their chapter on Decimal Operations by working on Order of Operations. We have been working on this the past couple of school days. Our pre-test data showed an average of a 35%. After giving the students a formative assessment this morning, that average jumped to a 75%. We are still going to have to work on consistently doing our parentheses work before multiplying or dividing, but we are getting there.

The 7th grade is finishing up their unit on Number Sense by remembering how to Add and Subtract fractions and decimals. I handed back their quizzed from Friday on Integers. The students can retake any part of that quiz for a higher grade once they meet with me to go over their errors. Both classes showed a lower average (65%) on subtracting integers than adding and multiplying/dividing (85% and 95% respectively).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Three simple words

Passion. Purpose. Pride. This slogan I heard from Jimmy Casas during my first session this morning at NJPAECET2. He was using this to describe his high school's vision/mission each day. He said if he could get everyone in the building to follow these three simple words everyday, it would be a great day.

This got me to thinking how simple school vision statements should be. We spend a lot of time saying how we are going to create 21st century learners with the latest technology. But is it something people can remember? Our vision should be so simple, yet profound, that a 5 year old in the school can repeat it and understand it. Then we know we are truly getting our message across.

So, my thought is, why spend so much time with lengthy vision statements that sound great, but do not mean much of anything? Does the public really care that we are striving to create these great citizens? No. They want a simple phrase that they can remember and restate. Stick to the basics. Breathe those basics. Everyday. Your school, and community ,will thank you.

Thank you, Jimmy Casas, for saying something so simple, yet so profound.