Archive for the ‘End of Semester’ Category

Today was the first day back to school after holiday break. Tomorrow, my Algebra 1 class has their end of year exam to determine whether or not they are proficient enough to move on to Intermediate Algebra.

Why does our school have such a test? As math teachers, we’ve found that different teachers grade different ways, and as a result, some students aren’t as proficient as they should be as they enter the next level of mathematics. ┬áTo overcome this, the math department created a test, over a decade ago, in which all Algebra students need to pass in order to advance to higher math courses. By doing so, the math department can be sure that students in upper level math courses are proficient in their algebraic fundamentals. On the downside, students hate it because if they don’t pass, then it’s another year of Algebra for them, no matter what their grade is in Algebra.┬áCounselors and the Vice Principal in charge of scheduling hate it because it puts a huge number of students back into Algebra, instead of having them go on to their pre-scheduled class.

Why was the test scheduled on the second day after returning back from holiday break? I have no clue, but I think it has something to do with scheduling.

After meeting with my Algebra class today, one thing is certain; a majority of my class either didn’t study, or they studied a minimal amount; which is a bit disappointing, since I spent so much time creating a YouTube playlist that includes videos for each of the skills on the test.

For the last couple semesters I have incorporated a standards based grade book. For my Algebra class, I have aligned the grade book with the skills that are seen on this end-of-year test. One thing that I am going to try, that I have never attempted, is to use the degree of error to determine how accurate my grade book is compared to this test. I intend to only use the assessments portion of my grade book. I think it will be interesting to see individual student’s degree of error and also the class results.

Stay tuned for the results…

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Finish Up Friday

Posted: July 22, 2011 in Classes, End of Semester, Math, Real Life Math
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I usually reserve Friday’s for assessments using the Standard’s Based Grading (SBG) Technique. So whatever we have covered the previous week and that week, will be covered on Friday’s assessment. Since many of my students are eager to take the test and get it out of the way, I don’t want to over emphasize the warm-up problems for this day; but at the same time, I don’t want to eliminate them from their daily routine. Therefore, Friday’s will be a wrap up of yesterday’s warm-up problems.

My goal is to take the equations that each student submitted and put them on a word document so that each student can be expose to the different equations, with some being more abstract than others, and not have to worry about taking the time out of class to copy them all down. With these sheets organized into their notebooks, the students can then “reverse engineer” the concepts that others students have used and use them to better enhance their own problems in the future. Also, by numbering each problem, students can vote for their favorite problems, so that the person with the most votes either gets a prize or their name on some sort of trophy. The voting, although I haven’t figured it out completely, may either take place online using their Edmodo account, or it may be done by turning in paper copies with their votes. Most likely, I will use Edmodo, since this will allow me to quickly accumulate the votes.

Graduation Speech 2011

Posted: June 14, 2011 in End of Semester
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This post started out as something much different (and much darker). After starting to write it, I discovered that it would make a good graduation speech to keep with the theme of trying new things. Unfortunately, in my years of teaching, I have not been selected as faculty speaker, but hope to someday. To help prepare for the day when I do become the faculty speaker, I have decided to create a speech for the end of the year/semester. Hopefully, I will be able to come up with something for the end of each term in the school year.

As a child my dad would take us to the water park, our grandparent’s swimming pool, and to the local pool. We had a blast every time we did something as refreshing as this in the summer. What I didn’t realize as a kid, but later found out as a teenager, was the fact that all of the places mentioned above have one thing in common; they are all places where my dad could touch the bottom. I can’t remember how I found out, but when I did, it was a huge shock to discover that my dad, the same guy that took me to swimming lessons, can’t swim.

When I asked him why he couldn’t swim, he simply told me that he never learned. He explained that when he was growing up, his family didn’t have a lot of money and his parents were too busy trying to make money. He also told me that as an adult, when I was just a wee tad, that he tried to take adult swimming lessons from a nearby swimming pool. Unfortunately, when the swimming test came around, he failed. After hearing this, I of course had even more questions. Why did you fail? Didn’t they teach you what to do before the swimming test? Do you still have a desire to learn? Although I’m sure that he answered each of these questions, the only one that I remember the answer to is the last, in which he replied that he really didn’t have a desire to learn.

Life is all about trying. From crawling, talking, first steps, dating, tasting new foods, and visiting foreign lands; our lives are all about trying new things. Sometimes the experiences are good and other times not so much. My dad tried to swim, but after getting in the pool and experiencing it, he chose not to pursue it. I too have tried many things, and in the process I’ve discovered things I don’t particularly care for and things that I love. I wouldn’t, however, know about the great things in life if it weren’t for me trying something new.

Formal education is one experience that we are forced into trying, as our government makes it a point for us to receive an education. Many of you enjoyed your K-12 education and will be moving on to higher education, while others didn’t enjoy the learning experience and will be ending your formal educational experiences today. The one thing that everyone sitting here today has in common is that you tried, you stuck with it, and you succeeded…┬áCongratulations!