Saturday, September 5, 2015

Goals for Year Three

School starts on Tuesday and I have been making a lot of decisions about the year. Here are my goals:

1. My students and I will build a culture of student ownership in my classroom.

At TMC15, Christopher Danielson told us to “Find what you love. Do more of that.” What I love is student ownership. I believe that it is the main avenue to joy in my classroom. Most of the not-strictly-math pedagogy that I have focused on for the past two years has been in this domain. Here are my goals, based on three areas of focus:

Standards Based Grading:
Students will understand their comfort level with the big ideas and skills of eighth grade and use that knowledge to prioritize how they use their learning time.
Group Work:
a) Students will clarify, develop, question, integrate, and add to each other’s ideas in ways that no one person could alone.
b) Students will be able to identify what they need from their classmates and what their classmates need them from them.
c) Students will not see me, the teacher, as the only source of knowledge and power in the room, but instead believe in their classmates and themselves.
Student Generated Questions:
Students will generate and answer their own mathematical questions.

With my focus on group work this past year, I found it effective to develop the skill over time. Therefore, I decided to map out how we would progress through each of these foci over the course of the year.

This is a little bit hard to read, so I have converted it here:

Group Work
- Private Think Time
- Question/Stuck Protocol
- Table Work Norms
- Turn & Talk
- On Task Check
Groupworthy Tasks:
- Partner/Group Work Norms
- Partner Roles
- Partner Work Protocol
- Tasks Cards
- Partner Metacognition: What did you need your partner for? What did they need you for?
- Intro to Grading Philosophy
- Scoring a Write-Up
- Revising a Write-Up
- Understanding the Progress Report
- Calculating Your Grade

- Own tracking of math standards in the unit
Revision Day
- Quiz Corrections/Revising a Project
Own Problems &
- Using Question Formulation Technique for problem-solving with prompts that are visuals/problem stems
- Identify what standards were used in solving the question

Group Work
- Groups Chosen by Me
- Group Roles
- Participation Quizzes
- Weekly Random Groups
- Students Choose Groups to Stay in for 1 Month
- Choose How to Split Up Responsibilities (Group Roles or Not)
- Multi-Day Project Where Groups Budget Time

- Planning Revision Day Choices

Revision Day
Interview/Revising MTR/Other Type of Evidence


- Class: Identify corresponding standards to questions and choose based on that
- Individual: Identify corresponding standards to questions and choose based on that

2. I will give more distributed practice.

Last year, I was frustrated because students would seemingly demonstrate understanding of a skill or concept at the end of a unit and then when I came back to it weeks/months later, they did not demonstrate that same understanding. One of my big takeaways from PCMI was the necessity of distribute practice for real learning to happen. I am not ready to do something as dramatic as completely spiralling my curriculum in order to get distributed practice. Instead, I am going to approach this from two avenues. The first is sequencing such that the most important concepts in eighth grade are seen early on and then reviewed/developed using connections in subsequent units. The second is to totally revamp how I do homework.

Here is my plan for homework:
Content: Each homework will have three parts—lagging practice problems, skills-based problems that get at the big ideas for the year, and a higher cognitive demand problem that requires some sort of writing. The homework will be relatively short. I am currently thinking a total of five problems.
Format: I will give homework in weekly cycles. Each week, I will create one homework and three variations that have the same problem types.  After one or two nights in the cycle, we will spend part of a double block somehow going over the homework. I will only collect the last homework. The expectation is that students may not be confident with all of the problems at the beginning of the cycle, but over the course of the cycle they will make progress with what they initially could not do.
Grading: Homeworks 1-3 will be graded for completion and I will teach students a protocol for what to do when they get stuck on a problem in order to still show their thinking and get credit for completion. Homework 4 in the cycle will be graded for accuracy.

3. I will do a better job at building procedural fluency from conceptual understanding.

Out of all of my goals, I have the least concrete plan for what this will look like right now. This will come as I get more deeply into planning each of my units. However, I know that part of this process will be starting units with meaty, high cognitive demand tasks rather than only ending units with these tasks. My goal is that these tasks will do the following: draw upon student intuition and prior understanding that will be essential to the new content they are learning and/or create a need for that new content. I will also try to have longer arcs of building understanding before pushing to fluency.

4. I will plan my lessons farther in advance in order to maintain some work-life balance.

My first year, I had my lessons done by the time I needed to teach them. This past year, my goal was to have copies made before I left the building at least once a week. This year, I think I can do better. I will also have a co-teacher in my classroom a couple periods a week, so earlier planning will be essential for us to be on the same page.
There are three action steps for this goal:
a) By Sunday noon, have an outline for the week with objective for the day and short description of the lesson
b) Have a rough draft of the lesson two nights before it is taught
c) Have copies made before leaving school at least three days a week

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