Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Standards Quiz #2

Today I finished grading my second round of standards quizzes. We just finished standard #9: The student will be able to describe and/or order a given set of real numbers (rationals & irrationals). This quiz was much easier to grade than the first one. It only had 9 questions (3 easy, 3 medium, 3 hard) and it was all multiple choice. I made the students show work anyway. However, this saved me a lot of time. I was able to quickly skim the multiple choice responses for right/wrong and then any questions I wanted further clarification on I could just look at their work. I finished grading all four classes worth of quizzes before the day was over. I had just as much information as I did from the previous quiz and I was able to spend more time providing written feedback.
I will probably do the majority of my quizzes this way from now on. The state test is multiple choice anyway, so they might as well get used to it.
As a side note, I used a web-based program called Discovery Ed to make the quiz. It is a service my district has subscribed to. You are able to select the course and then drill down to the individual standard. It provides a whole back on easy/medium/hard questions. The questions are remarkably similar to the state test my kids will take at the end of the year. This has saved me a TON of time this year. I can pick through my choices and have a beautiful standards quiz in a short amount of time. So thankful for Discovery Ed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Stadards Quiz - Grading

My students took their first big standards quiz on Wednesday. I had no idea what to expect about grading. I didn't know how long it would take or how difficult it might be to score it correctly. So far I have finished two out of four classes and it is taking about twice as long to grade as it would have last year under the old system. However, last year I only used multiple choice tests. I could easily go through and mark off a, b, c, d, etc... This first standards quiz was strictly free response and essay. Therefore, I am not basing my "time it takes to grade" on this one assessment.

Overall, I like this system a lot better so far. The usual points or percentage systems never really made me too happy. Even though I have only graded two classes, I am pleased with the results. The kids who are currently failing are the kids who don't know what they are doing and that is a small percentage. I have one in each class right now that is failing. The rest are spread out As through Ds. The quiz scores match up perfectly, I feel, to what the students actually know.

Tomorrow I will be handing the quizzes back. The students are going to chart their own progress. They all have a "standards" tab in their binder (go me!). I will work on giving some valuable feedback to each student. I want them to know exactly what they should work on in order to improve their score.

I'm excited to give the quizzes back. I'm interested to know how long it will take for the students to really catch on to the grading system. I am sure once they fully understand it, they will appreciate it.

I'll keep you updated! As always, feedback is welcome.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

ELL Students

For the first time in my teaching career I have several ELL students in my classroom. I'll admit that I really have no idea what to do for them. Two know how to speak English fairly well (enough to "get by"), but the rest only know a couple phrases. The phrases include "I don't speak English" and "I know little English". Comforting! Not.

I've been doing some research as I have been able to, but I haven't found anything that is really satisfying. Most places say to give visual vocabulary: word, picture, definition. This is something I already do, and it doesn't strike me as much "good ELL teaching" as it does just "good teaching". Other resources say to model everything. Uh, duh. And then other resources say to shorten the assignments and requirements for the ELL students. I'm not sure how that is helpful, but maybe?

The thing that really bothers me is that several times I've been told "they won't count against your AYP scores". Well, that's great...but it doesn't change the fact that I want these kids to learn Algebra I.

So for now, I am spending time translating my vocabulary into several different languages thanks to Google Translate. I am making the students write the English version, but they have their own language side-by-side so they at least know what they are writing. I think that will serve two purposes. One, they will grow their technical English vocabulary. Two, they will be able to answer the problems I give them in class because they will know words like "simplify", "evaluate", "sum", "subtract", etc... For now, I am not doing anything with the assignments. They are staying 100% English. The only work I am translating is the vocabulary.

I really wish there was some more helpful information out there about teaching ELL students. At the end of the day, they are still students in my classroom and I still want them to learn Algebra I. Even if they don't count against my AYP.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

1/3 Scale - SBG % Translation

I officially decided to use the 1/3 scale. I think it will better represent what the kids know and are able to do. I will be able to more accurately pinpoint their proficiency level for each standard. Here it is:

4.0 – 100% A
3.67 – 97% A
3.33 – 92% B
3.0 – 90% B
2.67 – 83% C
2.33 – 77% C
2.0 – 70% D
1.67 – 67% F
1.33 – 63% F
1.0 – 60% F
<1.0 – 50% F

I chose not to divide the 4.0 to 3.0 range evenly because it left 3 opportunities for an A and only 1 opportunity for a B. If a student gets a 3.33 that means they are proficient and low-partially proficient at advanced content. To me, that represents B work, not A work. 

Just so you know, in my district this is the grading scale we are given:

93-100 A
85-92 B
75-84 C
70-74 D
0-69 F

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Algebra I Standards List for SBG

So after many months of planning for standards-based grading in my classroom this year, I have finally written out the standards. These are the standards provided by the state.  I am considering merging and/or splitting a few of them. I have seen several lists that are simply “topics” and I know I do not want to do that with mine. However, the problem is that I don’t want them to be so specific that I have boxed myself into one type of problem. I also don’t want it to be so broad that I have trouble testing it all or assigning a mastery grade. If anyone has any suggestions for my list, I’d love to hear them! Also, I should mention this is for Algebra I only.
Mathematical Processes
1.       Interpret patterns found in sequences, tables, and other forms of quantitative information using variables or function notation.
2.       Write an equation symbolically to express a contextual problem.
3.       Apply properties to evaluate expressions, simplify expressions, and justify solutions to problems.
4.       Translate between representations of functions that depict real-world situations.
5.       Recognize and express the effect of changing constants and/or coefficients in problem solving.
6.       Determine and interpret slope in multiple contexts including rate of change in real-world problems.

Numbers & Operations

7.       Operate (add, subtract, multiply, divide, simplify, powers) with radicals and radical expressions including radicands involving rational numbers and algebraic expressions.
8.       Multiply, divide, and square numbers expressed in scientific notation.
9.       Describe and/or order a given set of real numbers including both rational and irrational numbers.


10.   Express a generalization of a pattern in various representations including algebraic and function notation.
11.   Operate with polynomials and simplify results.
12.   Factor polynomials.
13.   Operate with, evaluate, and simplify rational expressions including determining restrictions on the domain of the variables.
14.   Write and/or solve linear equations inequalities, and compound inequalities including those containing absolute value.
15.   Interpret various relations in multiple representations.
16.   Determine domain and range of a relation, determine whether a relation is a function and/or evaluate a function at a specified rational value.
17.   Determine the equation of a line and/or graph a linear equation.
18.   Solve systems of linear equation/inequalities in two variables.
19.   Find the solution of a quadratic equation and/or zeros of a quadratic function.
20.   Analyze nonlinear graphs including quadratic and exponential functions that model a contextual situation.
Geometry & Measurement
21.   Develop and apply strategies to estimate the area of any shape on a plane grid.
22.   Solve contextual problems using the Pythagorean Theorem.
23.   Solve problems involving the distance between points or midpoint of a segment.
24.   Convert rates and measurements.
Data Analysis, Statistics, & Probability
25.   Interpret displays of data to answer questions about the data set(s) (e.g., identify pattern, trends, and/or outliers in a data set).
26.   Identify the effect on mean, median, mode, and range when values in the data set are changed.
27.   Using a scatter-plot, determine if a linear relationship exists and describe the association between variables.
28.   Generate the equation of a line that fits linear data and use it to make a prediction.
29.   Determine theoretical and/or experimental probability of an event and/or its complement including using relative frequency.