Friday, October 03, 2014

Math: Week 5

SOLs Covered:  SOL 8.1a Order of Operations
Math Packet:  #4 Order of Operations
Upcoming Assessments:  PEMDAS Quiz (Fri. 10/3)

SOLs Covered:  SOL 8.4 Evaluating & Simplifying Algebraic Expressions
Math Packet:  #5 Algebraic Expressions: Substitution
Upcoming Assessments:  Substitution Quiz (Mon. 10/6); CCPS Wk 1-4 Quiz (Fri. 10/17)

It's been another busy week!  Some students might have noticed they had trouble accessing their CCPS Dashboard over the weekend.  We heard from the county that a few glitches had to be fixed, but it looks like all accounts are back up and running by the end of the day on Monday.  We also experienced some Internet connectivity issues due to some issues on the service providers side of things.  This helped reinforce for students my decision to continue having at least a few things as "old school" paper/pencil work.  Aside from the handful of tech issues, we have spent a lot more time working on the computers, so most of the packet pages have not been required in either course (MSM2 Blocks 1/2 and 7/8 as well as 7H Block 5/6).

While we're talking about tech issues, there have been a few things that need a little work, so I'm still playing around with how everything will be posted, including where it can be found.  I've found in talking with a few parents as well as working with my niece on her own accounts that some of what we as teachers post for grades, attendance, and the like on Synergy (a.k.a. ParentVUE and StudentVUE) are not completely synced up.  I'd been uploading resources for each of the topic (the math packets in PDF form as well as related videos, games, and other resources) in the grade book with the assignments only for them not to show up for some classes/students while the same resources would be duplicated multiple times for other classes/students.  To keep things a little more streamlined, I've taken down the attachments/resources on Synergy.  I'll be trying to find the best way to share these items with students, but at this time it's looking like the class Edmodo groups as well as our various Google options, which are ultimately linked to each other (ex. Google Drive files can be attached to Google Calendar events).

On the math side of things, after taking the required county pre-assessment, the MSM2 classes have been working on order of operations while the 7H class has been working on evaluating and simplifying algebraic expressions using substitution.  Both groups have been given assignments through Khan Academy, which seems to have been a hit with students!  They've been eager to earn points and badges while unlocking avatar features, which is accomplished through answering more math problems (this obviously leaves me as a very happy teacher!).  Problems are accompanied by related videos and will provide hints as needed, so the kids are not stuck waiting to have their own individual questions answered if I'm currently working with another student.  We'll continue using Khan Academy throughout the year in class, but I encourage students to continue coming back to it on their own.  I've added recommendations for the topics we've already covered as well as a few of our upcoming topics for all the classes, but I also encourage students to go back over the "earlier" topics (K-6 math topics) to build their strength in these foundation skills.

As I've mentioned to some of my struggling students, by strengthening their skills in the topics covered before 7th grade they will find our 7th grade topics becoming easier over time.  I've already seen a few students feeling more confident in their abilities just with the work they've done on their own.  With all the sites I've set up for the kids or helped them set up for themselves, I encourage them work/play on the sites outside of school time as well as when I give a required assignment in class.  I also encourage them to share with me any games, videos, or other sites they come across if they think it would be beneficial and fun for their classmates.

Finally, before I "sign off" for the week, I want to encourage all students to look over their grades.  Anything that isn't an A can most likely be pulled up.  Formative assignments (i.e. math packets, online assignments) can be completed and turned in for full credit (if past the final deadline, students must turn in their Liberty or Lambie Points; see last week's post).  Formative assessments (i.e. quizzes) can be corrected with an Error Analysis, which must include the correct answer along with the work and explanation (must be turned in within a week of the day it was returned to students, after that students must again spend points).  Last are the summative assessments/assignments (ie. tests and review quizzes) have now been added into the mix of assessments eligible for a chance at Error Analysis.  Last week I stated that I'd be allowing the students to complete an EA for the first test only.  After a bit of thought over my own teaching philosophy, I decided that I really wasn't alright with that idea.  If I want students to learn from their mistakes, they have to go back over the work, but many wouldn't without the extra incentive of earning back at least some points, therefore students will be allowed to make corrections (following the other rules of an EA) as long as they turn it in the next day (after that, students will need to spend points).  The MSM2 students have taken the first CCPS review quiz, which falls within the summative category.  There will likely be projects that will fall under the summative category as well, but any adjustments to grades for those will be on a case-by-case basis and depend on the project.

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