Friday, September 26, 2014

Math: Week 4

SOLs Covered:  Review of SOLs 7.1d/8.5, 7.1e/7.3ab, & 7.16/8.15
Math Packet:  Wk 1-3 Test Study Guide
Upcoming Assessments:  CCPS Wk 1-4 Quiz (Wed. 10/1); PEMDAS Quiz (Fri. 10/3)

SOLs Covered:  SOL 8.2 The Real Number System & Review of SOLs 7.1d/8.5, 7.1e/7.3ab, 8.1a
Math Packet:  #4 The Real Number System & Wk 1-4 Test Study Guide
Upcoming Assessments:  Algebraic Substitution Quiz (Fri. 10/3)

They're finally here!  This week the students finally got their Chromebooks!  It's been a little hectic with the county's first year distribution Chromebooks to all middle schoolers, but I think we're already off to a great start.  Students received their Chromebooks through English classes on Monday and Tuesday.  On Wednesday, which was a half-day for students), the first three classes of the day had lessons provided by the county to help the students to become familiar with the device.  In my last block of the day, I allowed the students to practice some of what they'd learned throughout the day while I sent them practice sites related to our review topics through Hapara, a site that allows teachers to interact and monitor the devices remotely from our own laptops.  While the students are not necessarily thrilled with this idea, it does help teachers ensure students are working the way they're supposed to as well as allow us the ability to interact with the students while at school (share documents, calendar events, websites, etc.).

For the "math portions" of our week, both my MSM2 classes and my 7H class reviewed for their first test of the year.  While this is a summative assessment, which normally do not qualify for an Error Analysis (EA), however due to the loss of class time and the general excitement of Chromebooks, they'll be given the chance to complete an EA on this first one.  A few students have already asked about adding the opportunity to "buy" a chance at an EA with their points (my point systems are further explained below) and I've told them I'm thinking about it.  In addition to the review, my 7H class also had work on the real number system, which they all took to fairly quickly.  On Thursday, I started all of my classes with an Edmodo Snapshot reviewing topics from the test before we went over the study guide in detail.  Once finished, students spent the rest of the block and most of Friday working on the test.  As students finished the test, they received the account information for at least some of the sites I've set up for them to use throughout the year.  Those students who did not finish with enough time to get this as well as those I did not get to will receive their account information during whatever free time we have in class, though a few of the sites they will set up themselves and "join" the class pages using the codes they'll find in their Synergy StudentVUE message center.  Some of the sites are more for review and to build up their basic math skills, which they'll work on predominately on their own during "free time" in class or outside of school hours.  Other sites connect directly to our math topics and will be used during regular class time as assignments or enhancement to the curriculum as well as on their own time.  We will likely add to these sites throughout the year as I come across new ones that I think will work for class/education purposes.

Recently I've had a few questions from parents/guardians about my class point systems and while it's all been explained in class to the kids, I wanted to make sure all the parents/guardians understand them as well.  I have two points systems in place for my classes:  Liberty Points and Lambie Points.  I use both systems to integrate a bit of financial literacy into the daily mix.  I gave all the kids a grid of 100 Liberty Points last week that will last them for the term (they'll get a new one at the beginning of each term).  Most commonly these points are used for turning in late work.  Whatever the most recent math packet was can still be turned in within two days (if due on Friday, it will still be taken on Monday/Tuesday) without penalty.  After that, students must "pay the late fee" using their Liberty Points.  All they need to do is staple the points to the front of the late assignment before turning it into the drop-off tray or if it's more than one, they can always give them to me directly or ask for a paper clip.  I mark out their "payment" when I go through their packet again.  The points are used for a few other things as well ("buying" a new packet if they lost the old one, turning in an Error Analysis past the deadline, retaking assessments, etc.).

Any points left over at the end of term get turned into me and I'll convert them into my other point system (Lambie Points) which I liken to the rewards you get with some credit cards and the like.  These points can be used for pretty much everything the other points can be used for along with a few other fun things ("shopping" from the class treasure chest, buying an open notes assessments, etc.).  Lambie Points can also be earned in other ways (good behavior, doing extra work/puzzles given out through Edmodo, donating supplies, etc.).  This is also the back-up for those students who might lose their Liberty Points (there's always at least one at the beginning of the year before they realize the importance), so they can still "buy" their way out of trouble, though they'll likely have to work even harder for it.

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