Thursday, August 31, 2006


I haven't posted for a while, as getting started with a new year is always overwhelming. But now things are underway, and I feel like I am past the super-frenetic stage and settling into standard overworked mode.

My Algebra 2 classes are really great so far. The kids have a lot of positive energy, and most are getting all of their work done. I have put the new homework review process into place for both classes (honors and regular), though it is slightly different in each. In regular, the students get credit for completing their homework, and the score they get on it is simply recorded to track their progress (and potentially give them rewards) - it doesn't affect their grades. In honors, I am recording only their score (not completeness), so that they are forced to spend more time before class making sure that they understand the material.

I have been using two different tally methods also. In regular, as they work on the Do Now, I go around and check their homework. This gives me a few seconds to check in with each student. They write on their paper up to 3 problems that they want to go over in detail - I tally these up as I go from student to student. When the Do Now is over, if there are a couple of problems with many votes, those are the ones we work on. If there was little trouble on the homework, then I may skip review all together. So far, this is working nicely, as it lets me target the greatest deficits, and be more efficient with our class time.

In honors, the students start class by checking their answers to the homework. As they do so, they pass around a tally sheet to mark the problems they want to see. The sheet keeps moving as they spend about 10 or 15 minutes in their groups discussing their work. During this time, I ask students to call me for help if, after discussing a problem as a group, no one can figure it out. At the end of this time, I look at the tally sheet and only go over a couple of problems if many students checked them off. (The tally sheet is also useful when deciding what types of problems to review in following lessons). I then tell students which pre-selected problems are being graded, and they score their work. Following this is usually a brief Do Now or quiz, during which time I can walk around and record their scores.

This may sound complicated, and it actually has felt that way.. but I do feel that the beginnings of my classes are going much better than they have in the past. Students seem more engaged, and as we all get used to these processes, they are getting easier to manage.

The binder and note-taking systems have been established also, but I'll save that for another time.

Overall, I am very optimistic about this year, and encouraged by the students' actions and attitudes thus far. As an added bonus, we just did a fraction review lesson in algebra 2 regular, and almost all of the students seem quite comfortable with the fraction operations. This is definitely a first in DCP history! The first quiz is tomorrow (in both honors and regular), so we'll see how they do.

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