This year…

This year, there are a few things I will be doing differently.

1) The other teacher teaching Algebra I (she teaches HS and I teach the 8th grade section) and I decided to rearrange our Alg I curriculum. While I have taught Algebra every year since I began teaching, it will be a challenge (and interesting) to change the order of things. We are using a Common Core edition of our textbook to lead the changes we make. I will also be trying to push my 8th graders more than I did last year. This means faster, more challenging, hopefully making them more independent and not afraid to go for it!

2) I am having students write down daily objectives, mark whether they understand after the lesson, and explain or give an example that illustrates the objective(s). Thanks Pinterest for this…it’s based off of a first grade teacher’s idea via her blog. This will not only help me stay on task, but it will help them see what we covered in any given week. They will fill this out Monday through Thursday, have it to study from for their quiz Friday, and we can go over issues Friday (before quiz).

3) I am making a much bigger effort to have Warm-Ups every day. One of my classes is for Juniors, and part of my job is prepping them for the upcoming PSAE (IL’s state assessment).  Again, I made a weekly form and am hopeful that that will keep people more accountable to their work. Today’s question, for example, was an ACT question. I will also incorporate skills we have learned recently, or review a skill that is necessary for that day’s work.

4) Less in class homework time, but more in class practice (structured). Our class periods are 43 minutes, so by the time they write objectives and do a warm-up, we’re down to about 38 minutes. This doesn’t leave much “let’s get started on the assignment” time. I have worked really hard this week to include in class practice so that HW can be shorter, and we don’t need to start it during class.

There you have it…a few old ideas that I am trying to do a better job of implementing.

PS…any suggestions on how to best utilize 43 minute class periods?? (Forgot to mention I’m a traveling teacher…so I am never in the same classroom back to back, and passing periods are 3 minutes!) Help wanted/needed!!

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4 responses to “This year…

  1. You sound like (which doesn’t surprise me) a very dedicated teacher who really cares about her students and is good at assessing they’re needs and teaching them effectively! I have no advice for you (sorry!) I think that your students will be sad to not have you for a few months – but Emery (and Gavin) are blessed to have you as their momma!

  2. Wow, moving every class period! Last year, I stopped giving them “time to begin homework in class” as it wasn’t used effectively. Instead, we use it for structured practice, like you mentioned. Students were usually very engaged and in turn I could make HW shorter because they had completed some of the questions in class, practicing as a group.

    I like your point #2. I need to work on getting better at this. With SBG this year, I need to plan how I will have my students write down goals/objectives/standards…

  3. I’ve never taught in 43 minute periods, but I did teach at a school with only 144 school days. When I looked for ways to make the most of my time, I did two things: first, I prioritized content and stopped feeling guilty about not covering every topic. (That prioritization can be found at http://blog.mathed.net/2009/10/csap-item-treemaps.html.) Second, I became really conscious about how much time I was using for formal assessment. It’s amazing how quizzes and tests can become 25% of your total classtime (or more), time you’ll wish you had for teaching. Make every assessment task count and don’t be afraid trim items.

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