Sunday, September 20, 2015

Week 4 Reflections

Still not in my groove but working towards it.

Good things happening:

  1. Students from pre-cal that had me last year are stopping by my room thanking me for preparing them for the work in that course.  One young lady in particular shared how much it has helped her and that she did well on her first test.  Another young lady is stopping in often for a hug, a laugh, and to encourage me.  I am blessed beyond measure.
  2. Students in one class in particular were laughing with me and thanking me for being a teacher that would laugh with them.  
  3. I found my go-to lesson planning app for the iPad this week!  It's ClassKick and I highly recommend it.  It's similar to Nearpod but completely free.  It also supports differentiation in that students can go from slide to slide without waiting for the teacher to process the slides.  The app captures all of the students' work.  I can zoom in on individual students' work, and give feedback, even stickers ... which my high school students LOVED.  While working students can raise an electronic hand to ask for help.  It's a top notch app!
  4. First test grades are in.  While the class averages aren't where I want them to be ... in the 70's ... I am pleased with students' first efforts.  We have a long way to go, not there YET, but we are on our way!  (I had a student use the not YET phrase this week - high fived that kid!)
  5. I am learning to use Google Forms more efficiently.  This week I used Flubaroo to grade the multiple choice portion of their test and then emailed students their results.  Oh my - love that tool.  Now I want to use it to give feedback or to respond to data I collect!
Areas to strengthen:
  • I collected student reflections on Unit 1 via Google Forms.  Some students are not enjoying the style of teaching.  They want me to give notes first, explain the steps, and then give them practice problems.  Instead I start with questions, to activate prior knowledge, encourage them to use skills they have to get started with a problem situation, and then I pull them together for specific instruction. I'm thinking about how to continue using Socratic style questioning and yet support students' need for direct instruction.  I want to balance them better.
  • With the use of the iPad and less emphasis on paper activities, some students feel like they are leaving class without the notes they need to finish their homework.  I want students to use the tools that they need most ... some like taking snapshots of our work in class and uploading it to their Google Drive for notes; others want to create a notebook ... which I support fully.  I'm not dictating one way or the other and that is new to students.  I also post "teacher notes" online daily for students to support my students with learning concerns and of course all students can access them.  I want to do a better job in helping students to make wise choices for their own study needs.
We've started our systems unit.  I used a revised version of Kyle Pearce's Detention Buy-Out to start the unit.  Here is a copy of our video and handout.  We have new textbooks this year - actually a "work-text" by Carnegie.  I don't love it yet, but I'm using it more in this unit to see how students like it.  So some of our work will be class discussion, partner work around questions in the book.  It's a learn by doing style book ... curious if anyone else uses it.  We are required to teach Gaussian Elimination this year ... and that's what we are tackling tomorrow.  Hope it goes well.