SBG Topics for 7th Grade Math #July2014Challenge

Day 7 of #MTBos30 #July2014Challenge

Last year was my first year teaching 7th grade Math and 8th grade Pre-Algebra (2nd year as a teacher, I was the AVID coordinator my first year). The curriculum was several years old, and not aligned well with the NGSSS (Next Generation Sunshine State Standards). I pretty much taught to the workbook, assigned problems, thought students understood what they were doing, and then they would bomb the test. I then retaught the material, and gave a re-take and some did better.  I had a difficult time trying to figure out how students learned, and how to teach concepts while also giving them practice through the workbook.  Needless to say, most of the time I felt like I was Charlie Brown’s teacher.

The great thing about teaching is that the next school year is a brand new year. I have a year of teaching math under my belt. Our district has moved middle and high school grades to the Florida Standards (FS), which in 7th grade is almost exactly the same as Common Core. I received some great PD that came through our district by way of Math Solutions. Our district is moving forward with a new curriculum by Go Math. And, I have spent this summer struggling, learning, reading blogs, and stretching myself to do something different for the upcoming year.  Enter: Standards Based Grading.

My first task was to break down the standards into topics to be taught.  I was given a sample copy of the new textbook, and I took the time to break the lessons and units into individual topics. The topics are labeled 7-01, as I may be teaching 7th and 8th grade again this year, and want to keep the grade topics listed differently.  According to several SBG blogs I have read, 36 topics may be too many. With only 36 weeks to the school year, and really about 24 before the AIR test, I don’t know how many we can touch on.

I found an OMGR! (one more great resource!) which comes from the great state of Utah. They have broken down the Go Math textbook into the CCSS and identified specific page numbers for each standard. Hopefully it will help!

7th Grade Concept Thoughts – Link to PDF

7thConcepts

 

Inoreader – Keeping up with all y’all: #MTBoS30 Day6

When I went out on my binge reading of all blog posts concerning SBG and stuff, I really wanted a good feed reader that could pull together all of the great blogs that are out there.  I was an avid Google Reader user, and was sad when google killed it (insert sad trombone sound here.) I use Flipboard on my phone and iPad to keep up with my Facebook, Twitter, and other assorted news feeds, and I tried to create an RSS feed that would feed into Flipboard, but it was too clunky to make it work, and hard to add new feeds (read: it took 4 steps to do it, and I get extremely lazy!) After some searching, I came across Inoreader, It wasn’t Google Reader, but it turned out to be pretty decent.  So here’s what I did to make it work for me.

  1. ino buttonSign up for an account.  Easy, free, and painless.
  2. I downloaded the Inoreader widget for Google Chrome.
  3. Whenever I came across a blog I liked, I hit the Inoreader button:
  4. Then this little box popped up, and I hit the plus sign:

ino2ino3

After you hit the plus sign the first time, a couple of options turn up, click the plus sign next to the first Feed, and this will subscribe you to all of the posts.  The second one will subscribe you to any comments.  I haven’t subscribed to comments, but you can! Now I can keep up with the 50 or so  great blogs I have stumbled across, without having to go back and visit each site every time!  Hope this helps you!

One More Great Resource! (OMGR!): #MTBoS30 Day 5

In an attempt to remind myself to go and look at some great resource websites, I am hoping to publish some semi-random posts at different times that showcase a great website I came across. Feel free to comment and share one below!

Today’s OMGR!

http://dpsmsmath.wikispaces.com/home

As with most wikispaces, this OMGR! is not great to look at. It doesn’t draw you in with great colors, great fonts, nice graphics, but its greatness lies below the surface.

In my searches this year for more resources on the CCSS (or FS in Florida), I stumbled into this site. I was hoping to find some “I Can” statements written to the standards, and bam! Here they are! Then  I dug deeper into the site, and came across these unit maps for 7th grade.

And the creme de la creme of the site was a little hidden. In my travels I came across this blog post about stations and wondered if there were any books available that had the stations already created. I typed the word “stations” into the search box of the dpsmsmath wiki site, and came up with this. The 3rd, 4th, and 6th results of the site had a book for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade station activities tied directly to the CCSS.  That result alone is enough to make a Math teacher who is trying desperately not to spend too much money on his teaching habit to shout OMGR!

In a classroom not too far away…#mtbos30

 

Last year, in my first year as a Math teacher, I wanted to create an atmosphere that was a bit more interesting than just a math classroom. Superhero movies were coming out left and right, so I wondered if I could come up with some sort of tie to it, and here’s what I came up with:

  1. Superheroes solve problems.
  2. Math has problems.
  3. You solve math problems.
  4. Therefore you are, a superhero!

Cheesy, I know.  I had great plans to come up with superhero questions to post on my board, but after I posted my first one, I didn’t do it again. I had the room setup with tables, and above each table I hung a mobile of some comic book pages from a specific superhero group. The groups were: X-Men, Justice League, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Transformers, and Teen Titans. During the first half of the year, whenever I called on a table to give a specific answer, I would call out the team name. I created these by buying some comic books from the store, cutting out the pages, and then taking some foamcore and cutting pieces and taping them into boxes, and then I attached the pages with the spray glue.

mobile1mobile2

It definitely generated some interest, and I had several conversations with students during the year of “who is better, Deadpool or Superman?” I caught several of the students just gazing at the comic book mobiles before, during, and after class. I think if I would have stuck with it, it could have been cooler.

This year, I played with a new theme, possibly one involving tools, trying to get students to see that they have different tools to use in their math tool box to create solutions to problems. But then I saw this post, and I knew what I had to do next:

 

mathwars-800

 

jedi rubricI love the Jedi Master rubric, and feel that it is something that we can do to carry it through the year.  It’s all a great idea now, but we shall see how it works throughout the rest of the year.

 

 

 

 

*Update – 7/5/14  – I didn’t know if it would be helpful, but I decided to go ahead and post a few of the files I used for my superhero theme last year.

The Evernote Train

 

 

hero_evernoteIt has taken me a long time to learn to love Evernote.  In my earlier days of searching for productivity hacks, Evernote came up as one of the 10 best tools on every list, and I never saw the benefit of it. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, I went on a binge blogreading spree looking up all things SBG, PBL, and every other new wave educational acronym you can think of.  I had poured through dozens of websites, and was forgetting where I found some great link that I looked at two days before.

I re-downloaded Evernote, and gave it another try. I setup a free account, and then downloaded the Google Chrome Evernote Widget. What happened years ago was that I tried to save one or two links, and then forgot about Evernote. In order to make Evernote effective, this what I did.
elephant1.  Download evernote for your computer, and then go in and setup a couple of folders based on what you typically look for.  I created “SBG,”  “Common Core,” and “Teaching Helps.”

everside2. Then I spent about two hours searching through all of the helpful websites that I wanted to clip, and then I clicked on the little elephant hanging out on the top right of my chrome window. This is the widget I linked above. It brought up this sidebar.

For blogs, I would make sure that “Article” is selected, and it will highlight the area that will be saved. (On the left hand side, of this image is what will be saved.) Typically, Evernote will clip just the blog post, but if you want to include the comments, just scroll down and click on the + sign, and the window will grow and capture that as well.

Also, under “File,” will be the list of your folders.  Select it, and choose which folder you want to put the article in.  You can also use the Tags feature, to give some more specifics about why you are saving this.  For my Common Core folder, I have tags such as “Fractions,” “Number Sense” “Ratios,” in order to place specific activities that I can find later for each unit that I teach.

Click “Save” and you’re done with this site!  What is great about Evernote, is that after a saving a dozen or so websites, it automatically suggested which folder to place the article.  It’s not 100%, but it is learning your habits, and helps you organize.

3. The free Evernote account allows you to save 60MB of things each month. I began saving a lot of links, pdfs, activities, and I ate up my allowance within two days.  So I bit the bullet, and paid for the premium at $5 a month.  I figured that if I quit using Evernote, I could cancel it.

evernote search4. Now that things are saved in evernote, you can look in your folders to find what you have saved. Or if you have a vague recollection of something you want to see again  but not the site you went to, just type the word and every note with that word will pop up!  For a previous post, I remembered someone posting about the wall of remediation, but I couldn’t remember where, I typed it in and “whoomp, there it is!”

It took using Evernote for every web clipping for a solid couple of days, and then I realized how much it would help me.  Everything I have found is saved and searchable.  All of my bright ideas can be jotted down. Now comes the hard part, pulling it altogether and doing something with it!

I decided that I would share my folders, so anyone can look through and even subscribe and find something helpful.  If you create a great Evernote folder, feel free to share it as well!

Standards Based Grading Folder

Common Core Folder

Teaching Helps

 

Extra Credit

Credit or credit not As the end of each grading period nears, students begin to say, “Mr.P., what can I do to raise my grade?  Can I do extra credit?” I always say no, but they still ask. This year with Standards Based Grading, I will be ready with the right answer.  “What skills haven’t you mastered, and what can we do for you to understand it?” I can then point them to The Wall of Remediation, and tell them to a take a worksheet, look at their notes, look online, and see what they can do. Then let’s have a conversation about what you understand and what you don’t, and let’s learn this together.

Researching SBG

As I finished up my first year of teaching middle school math, I found myself being frustrated as to how the traditional grading system did not measure what students learned, but what they accomplished on a given day. Having grades on participation or homework or behavior I felt took away from having the students actually learn and master a topic or standard. Close to the end of the year, I found Standards Based Grading, and I was hooked.

Virtually every teacher blog that I have visited simply says, “I can’t explain SBG as well as this guy, so go here and read this.” I encourage you to do the same!

 

As I share my journey, I want to make public my Evernote notebook for you to follow, this will give you access to the things that are entering my brain, and hopefully will come out with a product worthy of using for this year.