Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What to expect, when you are expecting

Interesting question for myself today.  I expect the students to learn about limits and derivatives and integrals (OH MY!) this year, but trying to flip 2 different AP classes is definitely a bit daunting.  I will definitely need to keep track of my receipts for the coffee (is that tax deductible?)!  And if someone asks again "how do you have time to do all that?!", I might not be able to resist the urge to punch them!

I have decided that I don't think it is possible to do a superstar job at both courses.  One always falls backseat to the other.  At least I'm getting my head wrapped around that idea that I simply do not have enough hours in the day/week to do all I WANT to do.  Not that that stops me from trying, mind you!  I'm a tad on the stubborn side, so I can't "let it go". I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

But the bigger question, is "what am I expecting from my students?"  I hate having to decide "x" number of points for this and "y" number of points for that...and extra credit for this (just to get them to REALLY do something I want).  As a matter of fact, I have to STILL figure out just how much time I expect them to spend learning my subject each day.  Now they have about 25 mins of videos to watch and then another 15 mins of "easy" problems to do.  In class, I try to find computer practice for them that reinforces what they learned, and then its on to the worksheets (that were the outside HW last year).  I know those problems took at least an hour most nights because that is how long they took me sometimes (and we know the kids take longer). I also know that many times they skipped problems on those HW sets, so I'm hoping that I can force them to ponder those types of problems while they are in class.

Don't get me wrong, the work/learning that happened today was AWESOME! I'm really happy to see that they practiced on some questions online and quickly got through them, and moved on to the paper version.  Many asked questions of either me, or their teammates.  I listened in on great explanations and provided a few of my own.  It was rewarding to hear students say "Oh, I get it, I've never had anyone explain it like that before".  It felt good hearing the students talk math amongst themselves.  But eventually the question will have to be asked.....and answered "what's my grade?" It simply seems like it inhibits what I'm really aiming for...LEARNING!!!  I always tell them "I don't care about your grade, I care about what you actually learn because I know that will be way more important to you later on."

So, I still have to figure out: what am I expecting?  And the students will wrestle with the same question of me (so they can accumulate their points).  I'm expecting them to learn!  But how do I put points on that?  Currently, it appears to be happening to all of them.  Each day I tell them "you are smarter than you were yesterday", and it's true.  I know they can find limits (in Calc) and they can make/read a graph like a pro (in Stats), but beyond, I am still in a quandary about how I'm going to explain their point value based on my expectations.  I wish there were a meter stick to measure the growth of their mind after I have stretched it everyday.

8 comments:

  1. I am having students grade HW in class and they have to get 70% to earn full credit. In the past, our math team has given credit for effort. I got credit for effort when I was in school. But not anymore, now you have to get it right! On day 2 I already saw a shift in mindset. It wasn't "get it done real fast to get it done" but "Did I get this right?". Several students have picked up on the fact that I expect them to learn the material, not just fill in the paper. I hope this will tie learning to their grade more than in the past. Maybe something like this could help you clarify your expectations to students?

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    1. so if they get full credit (70%) or higher...that translates into gradebook as an "A"? They only thing that would make it difficult is that if I grade something, I always give partial credit because I am more interested in process than correct answers. This takes forever to grade and when the kids grade that, it turns into a nightmare. I'll have to ponder this some more, but its a good thought. Thanks!

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  2. You may be able to develop your own meter stick by creating levels of proficiency based on the skills and thinking you want your students to demonstrate. Marzano has examples on his website, though nothing specific for your AP classes.

    I use these levels of proficiency, then translate that into a percentage grade and assign points that way. I've found my students have become more focused on the learning because the emphasis is on moving up on the scale, not acquiring points.

    I'm looking forward to reading others' comments. Good luck to the start of your year!

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    1. This has possibility that I'm willing to explore. So do you assign 60,70,80,90,100 as the percentages to particular proficiency levels and calculate their grades that way? Is what you have more like SBG? Or do you use a rubric of some sort on all their assignments? Can you flesh out a little more exactly what you do?

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  3. Hi Paula, Yes, it is SBG. I've written about it on my blog, but here's the short of it. My scale is level 4 = 100%, level 3.5 = 95%, level 3 (the target) = 90%, level 2.5 = 80%, level 2 = 70%, level 1.5 = 60%, level 1 = 50%. Every assessment has the same weight and is worth 10 points. The assessment has problems that are leveled so it's easier to determine their level of proficiency. I look at each problem and determine its correctness, high partial credit (careless mistake), partial credit, or a NY for not yet. Overall if the process is correct and I see several HPC, for high partial credit, the student demonstrates a level 3.5 and I record 9.5 points in the gradebook. While I do examine each problem, in a way it's a bit holistic in the sense that I say to myself, "Overall this student is demonstrating at a level x." I hope this makes sense. Feel free to ask more questions if what I'm providing isn't clear.

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    1. How do you keep it from being too subjective? What separates a student from being a 3.5 vs a 3.0...and even though you look at them holistically, do you mark the mistakes on their papers? Or do you just give them an overall score? I just know that my point grubbing students will want to know why they got a 3 and not a 3.5 or 4 even. On the low end, what is the difference between a 1.5 and a 1? It seems like there is a lot of subjectivity in this, which is one thing I definitely want to avoid.

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  4. I will echo the SBG sentiment. Attacking the "what's my grade" mindset is easiest with assessment and how you use it to let them show growth.

    The way I'm going to attempt to do Calculus this year is have weekly(ish) assessments that are split into skills and concepts. The skills portion is a grab bag. Anything we've talked about, from however long ago. The point is to hang onto the feedback you get in these sections to help you when they reappear in the future. They will be able to demonstrate growth by reassessing those sections after school. The concepts portion will be a similar grab bag, but won't have a reassessment component.

    When you detach your main feedback from a 100 point scale, you'll see the students care less about nitpicky points. Now, don't get me wrong, you'll have the ones who want to know why something was a 3.5 instead of a 4, but hopefully you can use the feedback as a way to show them why there wasn't mastery.

    Often point grubbing happens because papers get marked "-1" with little insight as to why something was -1 vs -2, as the teacher chooses to leave it a mystery.

    Offering an avenue to demonstrate what they've gotten out of the feedback is important too. Point grubbing also occurs when a student realizes that they only had limited opportunities to perform. By making assessment a very frequent part of the course, they become less focused on trying to maximize every little detail, knowing that there is an opportunity to be rewarded for improvement.

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    1. So a main question I have is how many versions of assessments to you make if you let them reassess after school? And do you have some type of test creator software to generate multiple versions? That can be so much work. I made make-up tests last year to give to absent students in order to eliminate the cheating that takes place when absent students ask those in attendance what all the questions were. It was so much work making tests and keys. And, how do you differentiate between concept questions and skills questions? Also, I assume this means they are always open response questions, and no multiple choice. while i had all open response questions last year, I realized when they took the dept final that it was all multiple choice and I felt bad giving it to them because I had not done MC practice with them. While I do this regularly w/AP Stats, it was not woven into AP Calc when I took it over. I like doing this in Stats because it helps them prepare all year for the AP test.

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