Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How much they miss me when I'm gone

Today I was met with a lot of "where were you?" and "We needed you Mrs. Torres!"  With a test in both classes happening tomorrow, they are getting themselves more "worked up" by the hour. It was especially true for my 2nd period class who had a mandatory senior assembly today, so I never saw them (info on graduation paraphernalia) except for one true #calculete who decided to go against the grain and come to class to practice for the test.  But here is what I did see in the other calc classes:

I told them I was not going to teach/do anything new with them, they needed to practice on their own (with their groups, of course) and I would simply help out as needed.  Some students still needed to get their videos uploaded into my google form before the test so they could earn back points lost on the last test (I am LOVING this idea I came up with--a little help from my colleague  @KathleenDiver).  Others needed to progress toward getting caught up on problems they had not done.  There was ample practice for everyone to be engaged in something and....THEY WERE!!  I had students doing all sorts of work and it was AWESOME!!  Some were checking answers with my various keys, several were working on the whiteboards, many were working in their notebooks but checking with their teammates if they had questions.  It was incredible seeing them take ownership for their learning!!  Did I mention how much I love this flipped classroom model?  When you regularly build in the expectations, the students really seem to rise up to them.  This is SO MUCH better than the traditional classroom I had last year!!

Now, I wish I could say the same for Stats.  I am still struggling putting my finger on the difference.  I don't really think it is the caliber of student.  I have students in there that passed the Calc BC test last year with a 5!  I realize the two classes are completely different "beasts", but the students really struggle getting their act together in Stats.  After exchanging ideas with my colleague from another school site @EHSYarb4, the best we have come up with is that so many of our students are used to getting to ONE RIGHT ANSWER, and they get really good at the methods for delivering that ONE RIGHT ANSWER to you.  With data being "icky" and unpredictable, it is a challenge for them to decipher how they should explain their analysis.  It's not always the same every time and that is a large obstacle to overcome.

I get so many questions like:

Student: "how many decimal places should we always round to?"
Me:  "it depends on what you are finding, or the problem"
Student: "what determines whether I keep the regression model I just tried or throw it out?"
Me:  "that depends on how good/bad the other models are in comparison."
Student: "do we have to do this/that EVERY time?"
Me:  "that depends...."

It drives them crazy having to justify their choices instead of just get ONE RIGHT ANSWER.

I also had to have a "chat" with them today about getting themselves organized, noting that the worksheets I hand out during class ARE their notes, and they need to put them into a 3-ring notebook and STOP STUFFING THEM INTO A FOLDER!!!  I hate that so much!!  I don't want to have to collect notebooks because I want them to figure out how to organize themselves for college.  But I was so irked today, I am possibly reconsidering it!  We'll see if I notice improvement.

I decided by the end of the day that I am going to change their test (Stats only) to Monday and make them fill out a review sheet tomorrow.  I'll post it tomorrow, but I think it is fairly comprehensive on all the content we have covered so far.  Hopefully it will help them determine what they do/do not know.  Since Friday is a rally day, I am going to try Plickers in all the classes.  Have to get them printed out tomorrow!  Looking forward to that!

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