#EduRead Trial Run

This week we will be reading the article'Advanced Math? Write!' from the November 2002 edition of Educational Leadership. The theme of the magazine was Reading and Writing in the Content Areas and this article presents an easy to implement way to encourage writing in the math classroom.

My thoughts:

In an effort to integrate writing into our classrooms naturally and in a way that is easy to assess, could we:

  • Ask students to pick one problem from every quiz/test and explain the process in words.
  • As a review (or when a substitute is there), give them a random page number from their INB and ask them to summarize the concept/process in writing.
  • Ask students to write a monthly reflection of something pertaining to class: a test, a quiz, a review game, an activity, a worksheet, seating arrangement, etc. This would also double as interesting feedback to the teacher.
  • As an exit slip, write a summary of the lesson in text/slang or every day language and have them rewrite technically with correct vocabulary.
  • On a test or quiz, give them a graph, diagram, chart, or table (pertaining to current classwork) and ask them to write everything they know about it, using as much vocab as possible.
  • For those that use word walls, have them randomly pick two words and compare and contrast.
  • Give a problem that is worked out incorrectly and have them to explain and correct the error in words only.
That's the best I can do in a way that feels natural to my teaching.


Teacher Tool Box

Turn this

Into this!

I first read about this idea here and I went out that weekend and bought it. It is called the Stack-On 22-Drawer Storage Cabinet from Lowe's for $16.97.

I bought 12x12 scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby (half-off) because I couldn't find any in the 8x10 size that I liked.

I used the font Mail Ray Stuff and the template below. I cut the 12x12 paper down to 8x10 and was able to fit everything on two sheets.

I cut them out and just used a tiny strip of scotch tape on each side of the label to secure it to the front of each drawer. I also spray painted it teal.

Here are a few warnings: The drawers can be a little warped but still function okay, the drawers are NOT long enough for pencils, I could fit grading pens and sharpies only by turning them diagonal, and you should fill the drawers up before making your labels so you know what will actually fit in them!

They make these in different sizes so my next project may be making one for my makeup.



Parent Support

I often hear about parent volunteers in the elementary grades but I can't even imagine what I would have a parent volunteer do if I had one.

I always hear schools and teachers ask for parent involvement but I never know what that would look like for me.

I've been reading these pamphlets from The Master Teacher from 2005 and I really like them. It listed nine things all parents can do. I think it's a very practical, concrete list that could build positive relationships between parents, students, and teachers.

  1. Help students be in class and on time every day. 
  2. Urge you child to show their "best side" at school; have a positive, "will try hard" attitude all the time.
  3. Emphasize that listening and learning to take directions pays off.
  4. Stress organization and tidiness.
  5. Urge your child to be teachable; insist  that they not waste opportunities or reject advantages.
  6. Help students to not waste time denying mistakes but to learn from them.
  7. Encourage your children to work at getting along with others.
  8. Treat others as you would like to be treated; showing respect and concern for others will improve their own chances of success.
  9. Expect them to think- think before acting, apply what is being learned, solve problems.

I feel like I should make a handout and mail it to all my students' parents. How many would actually read it or keep it? How many might take offense to it?

Or maybe I should make it a handout for students? But then again...see aforementioned questions.

How do I make stuff that hits homes with me hit home with others?


Test Corrections

I've been doing SBG for a few years now but for me it only makes a difference in my grade book. Each year I have less than a handful of students who come in to retake any part of their test. It's more of an organizational tool for me than it is for the students. I don't know how to change this.

In reference to my last post on interventions, I'm thinking test corrections may be a better way for students to earn credit. I was reading through some of my old posts and found this link from @crstn85's blog. I like what she does a lot and I plan to use her idea and template.

There are some questions I'd like to pose to you. I've read about two different methods.
  1. Test corrections earn back half of the points missed. 
  2. Test corrections raise their grade to a 70% which is passing but not proficient.
  • What if corrections are not correct? It seems like it would be easier to determine a grade using method 1. Or should I not accept them until they are correct?
  • Are test corrections a way to show student learning? I'm working off this paragraph from an earlier blog post from a conference with Randy and Sue Pippen:
 "Their policy on grading was to make it count. Don't punish them for practicing. If I collect,  then they should have the opportunity to correct. They pointed out that the United States culture has taught kids as long as it's done, I'm done. Work is not done until it's correctly done. They did mention that they thought homework was important (which I am agreeing with less and less) but that it should be recorded and reported, not graded. They hit upon the fact that we all have students in our class who cannot do math. How did they get there? They have been passed along on their inflated grades thanks to homework completion and participation points. These types of grades are not informative. "  Would test corrections inflate grades too?
  •  Would more students participate in this method rather than retakes? I like the idea of correcting our tests together as a class the first time so they know how the process works. But maybe if I would have done that with retakes, I would have had more participation. I like that this method can be done outside of class without me but then again they could just copy someone's test that got the problems correct. I could avoid that by keeping all the tests but that requires more of my space and time.

  • Would this method motivate students to do work correctly the first time? I'm thinking if I required test corrections from students who did not pass, it might help them try harder the first time since I'm sure they will hate writing explanations. On the other hand, they might try less because they know they have a second chance. But the second chance is for only half the points.
  • How would test corrections increase learning? One way is being able to analyze your own work and identify errors. A second way is being able to communicate those errors in writing. A third way would be redoing the problem a second time. But if they still redo it incorrectly, will that have more of a negative impact?