Friday, October 25, 2013

Weekly Class Summary: Oct. 21-25

SOLs Covered:  SOL 8.1 PEMDAS; SOL 7.13 Substitution; SOL 7.1 & 8.1 NegExpo, SciNot, Comparing & Ordering Rational Numbers
Math Dictionary Sections:  Review Sections 7-12
Upcoming Assessments:  MSM2 Test 2 (Complete Mon. 10/28); Real Number System Quiz (Fri. 11/1)

This week was devoted to preparing for the second big test of the year.  Students started the week finishing the last quiz.  After grading this quiz and finding that the kids grades aren't showing the understanding of the concepts I know they have based on our conversations and work in class, I decided to take a new approach to things.  We spent some time going over the last quiz in a little more depth than usual along with making a few more additions to our Smart Chart.  We also went over a few handy dandy tricks that can be down with a times table, such as the perfect squares on the diagonal from the top left to bottom right (we'd previously talked about this during our exponents unit) as well as using the table to help with reducing and finding equivalent fractions.  For the making of the chart, I showed them a handy folding trick another teacher (Thanks, Mrs. Lawson!) showed me for making nice, neat columns for the table.

Flower Power from MangaHigh
While we spent time working on the study guide for the test, I tried a little something new, which I'm calling a "test preview."  Since the students show during regular class activities that they understand the basic math concepts, I feel the problem lies in that they do not know how to approach and breakdown the newer, more rigorous types of SOL questions my assessments have.  Therefore, for this test I started their "preview" by explaining that I was going to walk through the entire test with them, telling them what I would do if I were a student taking the test.  We read through each question one at a time, highlighting keywords and important information as well as writing the relevant Smart Chart component with each question.  We applied some of their "standard" strategies as well, like "slash the trash" (getting rid of all the obviously wrong answers).  One of the biggest factors in some of the less than stellar grades on assessments is the fact that too many students haven't been showing their work for a lot of the questions.  They seem to think that because there might be answer choices given, the work isn't necessary.  I made a huge point of telling them that even though I make the assessments, I still show my work when making the key and checking everything.  To remind them that the work is indeed important and necessary, we added a new class catchphrase (WIO! which stands for "Work It Out!") to problems where work is required to get the answer right.

Once we finished our "preview," students went back to each question and used our additions to solve the problems on their own.  While I don't plan to do these previews on future tests, I might use this strategy on some of the quizzes, though not always for the entire thing.  Students will finish the test as needed on Monday, though there are a few things that will be taking away from class time again that day, so students will most definitely be allowed additional time if needed due to the disruption to the regular math class schedule.

No comments: