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D.O.N.E. Done!

My portion of Summer School 2010 is done!  I still need to proctor the math exams tomorrow and then grade my little heart out, but I have handed in all of my grades, copies of my exams, and my key!

Only two of my students failed.  One of the students showed up at least a half an hour late EVERY DAY.  She would miss all of the review time and then attempt the quizzes.  Needless to say, she struggled.  The other student did NOTHING all summer.  I wish I could have gotten through to these students, but I also needed some effort from them!

I did end up curving my final exam.  I went back and forth on it, but in the end I decided that it would help the students’ overall average, give them a little ego boost, and perhaps, make up for the fact that I have never used this test before and there may have been some flaws in it.  Overall, I was happy with my final exam results.  I think that using SBG as a framework during the year and then building my final exam around this definitely helped!

Overall, the summer ended up nicely for me.  It was great to give a final and have students actually be able to show me that they knew what they were doing.  I am sincerely hoping this carries over into the upcoming school year!


Summer School Conclusion

Well, my little cherubs are working away on their final exam as I compose this post.  I can honestly say that in my six years that I have taught summer school, this has been my most successful.  I think that SBG helped me in focus my teaching, while it helped my students make sense of and keep track of the skills and content they were supposed to be learning.  Also, the Binder Checks proved immensely valuable in keeping my students organized and it gave me a worthwhile way to check their homework.

In the summer school program I teach at we are required to give some sort of end of year assessment.  I see-sawed on many different ideas, but I ended up cheaping out and going with an in-class final exam.  I took all of my quizzes (and therefore guaranteed that my final covered the course content evenly due to the SBG format I used) and put them into one big document.  I played around with formatting, changed the numbers on MOST of the problems, et cetera.  The big surprise for the students was that when they came in to take the exam this morning, I announced that I would let them use their binders.  In other words, that it was “open notebook”.  It has been extremely gratifying for the last hour to sit and watch these students flip through their binders, remember how to do a problem, and then show me they can do it on their exam.  Please remember that, for the most part, these are students whom have not found success in mathematics for many years.  On this final, however, they are truly showing me what  they know and is not that what a final exam should be all about?

WCYDWT….Attempt 1: Truck Financing


A certain manufacturer (Dodge, I think, not that it really matters)  is offering the following options for buying a new truck:

  •  $2500 Cash Back at signing
  • No payments for two months “Try Before You Buy” Program
  • 0% Financing

Which one is the “best deal??  Underwhat circumstances??

Summer School

Session 1 of Summer School, DONE.   I have taught summer school for the last few summers at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.  They host summer school for their own students as well as Solvay (my home district), Westhill, Marcellus, and Baldwinsville.  This year, I am teaching summer school at Fayetteville-Manlius High School.  FM hosts summer school for their own students, Onondaga Central, and Jamesville-Dewitt.  Maybe Lafayette too, but I can’t remember!

First of all, I am LOVING it in FM.  Smoothest opening for summer school EVER.  Also, I like coming in and not having the kids have any preconceived notions about who I am, nor do I have any preconceived notions about who they are.  It’s refreshing.  Also, it gives me a chance to redefine myself. Pedagogically, I am trying out a lot of the things that I have stolen from all of my blog idols over the past 6-12 months.

So far, I have implemented Standards Based Grading from  Think Thank Thunk.  I have used Sam Shah’s Binder Check. I have used numerous activities from Kate Nowak, Dan Meyer, Dan Greene, and many, many others. I feel I am finally getting to teach how I want to teach, not how I am forced to teach by a curriculum that is overstuffed into a 180 day school year.  I am getting to try things out…to be a little adventurous.  This is why I get excited for summer school.  Mnay teachers need the summers to refresh and re-energize, and although I can definitely understand that, I use it to try out new ideas that I am either do not feel that I have time for or I am too scared to try out during the year.  For the most part, it has been rewarding!

First of all, SBG…love it, love it, LOVE IT!  I used an adapted version of this (very similar to Kate Nowak’s) during this past school year in my Fundamentals of Algebra course.  I really enjoyed using it during the year, but the results at the end of the year were no different from the results from previous years.  Yea, Yea…I know I can’t teach the same things the same ways and expect drastically different results, but it was nice to hope!  This summer, however, SBG has definitely helped. 

It has helped me identify where the students are lacking.  By looking over quiz results by individual content, I can easily see what I need to go back and reteach. Contrarily, I can also go back and take a look at what my kids rocked on as well!

Secondly, an unexpected result (at least to me!!) was that students are able to communicate mathematically what they do not understand.  Rather than coming to me saying, “I don’t understand ANYTHING!!”, I have had students come to me and say that they, “Don’t understand how to find the GCF of a polynomial.”  In my opinion, speaking mathematics leads to do doing mathematics.

I am actually looking forward to summer school to see how the rest of the summer unfolds!

Some Community….Finally

Yes, there are only 6 days of school left with students.

Yes, most of the students have mentally checked out.

I was, however,  finally able to foster a sense of community in my classroom today. My coworker and I decided to give a take-home test for our Probability A2T Unit. We mostly did this because we did not want to give another precious day of class time up for a test. We had also given a take home test for our Trig Apps Unit. The result, was unexpected.

I had 5 students staying after today to “get help” with the test.  I was able to turn the focus back onto the students and get the students to look to each other for help.  The result was some good, honest mathematical by….wait for it…HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS!  They were able to explain the topics and to discuss the mathematics intelligently.  They made deeper mathematical connections because they were having a true discussion. 

As I head into summer school (and then the school year next fall) I know that I want to incorporate this into my class.  I always find myself fighting the internal dialogue, however, of balancing my desire for good mathematical practices like this and just “getting through content.”  I often times feel that in NYS the focus by State Ed is to put the focus on content, rather than making deeper math connections.  Although this bothers me, it also makes me focus more and more on becoming a better teacher.

I am hoping that this blog keeps me in touch with teachers who have utilize the practices that I hope to adopt.  By opening up the dialogue using technologies such as blogs, twitter, file-sharing, et cetera, the possiblities are endless!