Thursday, August 07, 2008

Back to work

It's been a lovely summer, but now it is time to get back to work. I will be teaching Algebra 2 this year (4 sections) and Algebra 1 (1 section). So, most of my lesson posts are going to be about Algebra 2.

I have been working with H. on creating a skills mastery assessment system. She has posted a lot about it, so I won't bother repeating it. You can catch up here.

I just found out about box.net and I will be posting my files there as I go this year. There is a handy widget on the blog now (if you are reading this by RSS), and you can even subscribe to that by RSS. Feel free to look at and use anything I post, but of course nothing may be published/sold/turned in to your ed school instructor without my permission.

I describe how my system will work in one of the files, but here it is if you don't want to bother downloading it:

Each skill test will be given at least twice – the scores are added together. The purpose of this is to promote retention of concepts. If students receive a perfect score on the second administration of the test, the first score will be raised to a perfect as well. Students are able to retake these tests as many times as they want before the end of the semester, though they can’t take the same test more than once per day. The questions on the skills tests are all single topic items that reflect typical STAR questions.

Homework will be graded. To make this possible, students will be called on to grade their own work. This will require trust and buy-in on the students’ part – but, the weight is limited to 10% to limit temptations for cheating. Each class, students will be shown the answers to the problems, and five to ten problems will be selected for grading. Each problem is either right or wrong, no partial credit. However, students may do corrections to the incorrect problems and turn them in the following class to earn their points back.

Thus, a full 60% of the points are “recoverable”, and students who put in sufficient effort should be able to earn the full amount of points. A student who earns all of the recoverable points needs only a 25% average on comprehensive tests and the final in order to earn a 70% in the class. This way, the class is passable by lower ability students who are willing to work hard, and these students will hopefully be better prepared to take the STAR test. Students who want to earn a B or an A must also do well on the comprehensive tests; this allows me to create tests that are more challenging and focus on analysis and synthesis problems.

In the Unit Skills Lists, skills that are marked CE will be tested only on a comprehensive exam. These are skills that are not required by the benchmarks/released questions, but are key to progressing to higher level math.

This system is still in its development phase, so any feedback you may have would be much appreciated.