Friday, June 14, 2013

Weights of math courses

Perhaps I shouldn't be typing a new blog entry at the end of a long, exhausting week when I am all fired up, but here goes.

Our school has adopted the Common Core math program and gone to three levels - Accelerated (the highest), Honors, and College Prep.  The controversy of which I speak is currently Accelerated and Honors students are receiving the same credit towards their GPA.  This just does not make sense and that is probably why it has happened.  (note the sarcasm)

  Then, why would a freshman take Accelerated over Honors?  We are told they want to be challenged and not just boost their GPA.  Really, that is the thought of a 14 year old?

   I think they might be thinking more like this:  "I am going to get the same credit if I take Honors or Accelerated, then why would I bother with Accelerated?"  "Oh, you tell me that I will get to AP Calculus.  Gee, that is like 3 years away.  I am only worried about getting through 9th grade."

   And, why should a student receive an "A" in Honors class and receive more credit than the student who is busting his butt to manage a "B" in Accelerated?  Guess who is getting more credit towards their GPA?  The easy A kid. 

   Yep, it makes sense.  Must be talking about public education.


10 more days baby!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How Stamps saved the Lesson and an Eraser almost ruined the day...

My last post was about how awesome my C2 Algebra I students did with watching some videos on Mario Cart and Angry Birds to learn about vocabulary to get us started with quadratics.  We were on a roll.  We did graphing and some solving for two weeks and quiz time came.  Granted it was 1000 degrees in my classroom and last period on a Friday, but they tanked it.  They couldn't even tell me if the parabola opened up or down.  Yikes.  This signaled to me that it was time to slow down and reteach (even though we are nearing the end of the year with not much time left).  So, I broke it down as basic as I could.  I came up with 14 pages of "Quadratic Patterns".  They are included here:  Quadratic Patterns

My plan was to put a little bit about each on the board and then have the kids do 1 page at a time, checking in with me before they went onto the next page.  Yes, 14 boring worksheets.  Well, I found this stamps in my drawer from about 3 years ago that I had never used:

Amazing!  My favorite was "Please Correct and Return".  The first worksheet was standard form and identify a, b, and c.  They struggled with this and most got this stamp.  They quickly learned they didn't want that stamped on their paper, so they worked a little harder to get it right the first time instead of just hurrying through the worksheet.  When they came back with their work correct, they got a better stamp and moved on to the next sheet.  Out of the 14 sheets, I think the furthest a student got was page 5 but there is always tomorrow.  I had them do two pages for homework tonight.  They are also being allowed to do quiz corrections which I haven't done with them before but I really feel they need to get this.

Thank you to my stamps for bringing the class to life and motivating them to actually try to make sense of these quadratics.

My next class was an Honors Algebra II class.  One boy asked if I had a big eraser.  I gave him a normal sized eraser but as he walked away, I told him I did have a giant eraser and I took it from my desk drawer and held it up to show him, only to quickly remember why I put it away a year ago as some sweet angel drew a man part on it and that was what I was showing the students.  Blush.  They got a good chuckle, so the day wasn't really ruined.