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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Unit One Algebra 2 Univariate Data Analysis

In considering going to Standards Based Grading (SBG) I contemplated how I would evaluate standards and realized pretty quickly that I first had to figure out what standards I would be assessing.  I have a list of goals from last year and I am going to attempt to classify each as a P (primary) or S (secondary) goal.  My opinion is that primary goals are ones which MUST be completed at a higher level. 
Univariate Data Analysis
(S) Represent data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots).
(P) Use statistics appropriate to the shape of the data distribution to compare center (median, mean) and spread (interquartile range, standard deviation) of two or more different data sets.
(S) Recognize possible associations and trends in the data.
(S) Interpret differences in shape, center, and spread in the context of the data sets, accounting for possible effects of extreme data points (outliers).
(P) Use the mean and standard deviation of a data set to fit it to a normal distribution and to estimate population percentages.
(P) Use calculators, spreadsheets, and tables to estimate areas under the normal curve.
(S) Represent data on two quantitative variables on a scatter plot, and describe how the variables are related.
(S) Summarize categorical data for two categories in two-way frequency tables.
(S) Interpret relative frequencies in the context of the data (including joint, marginal, and conditional relative frequencies).
(P) Informally assess the fit of a function by plotting and analyzing residuals.
(S) Fit a function to the data; use functions fitted to data to solve problems in the context of the data. Emphasize linear, quadratic, and exponential models.
My decision on which are primary vs secondary was based upon consideration of what kind of questions I recall being on the assessment we created last year.  Though given the rigor which Smarter Balanced/ PAARC seems to be requiring I may decide to make some changes with them as well. 

It appears I have identified 4 primary and 7 secondary goals for this unit.  At first glance this seems to be a bigger number than I want to assess (and reassess).   I think I will try to reduce my number of secondary goals to 2-3.  Perhaps I need to re-evaluate my goals for this unit so that some of them are more inclusive of other goals.  I'm also thinking that I should translate these goals into more "kid friendly" language.  


Friday, June 28, 2013

Algebra 2 first trimester thoughts

My school is set up around trimesters.  The original goal of doing this was to more easily allow students to recover credit (during a third trimester) for a class which they had not passed.  Strangely enough, this has proven to be problematic in the mathematics department.  (for reasons I am not planning on getting into in this post).

During the past couple years we have been working on curriculum with the assistance of a math and a technology coach.  We, the math coach and I, have been carefully watching how common core was developed and then how it correlated with the standards we've already been required to use.  Given that Michigan has reworked the (high school) math standards 3-4 times (including CCSS, now) since 2000, its very much been a work in progress and the final reworking wasn't as difficult as it might have been.

My first trimester in 2013-2014 in traditional (3 trimester course) Algebra 2 will be Univariate/Data Analysis, Probability and Sequences and Series.  Just 3 units (in about 11 weeks of study).  This is the order we did them last year (written to CCSS) and the unit descriptions were given to me by the math coach (who got them from the work done by a local Intermediate School District (ISD) on the CCSS standards).

The timeline (including assessment) from last year was Univariate (etc) 14 days, Probability 17 days and Sequence and Series 23 days.  The remainder of the trimester will be used for final exam review and final exams themselves (yes, finals are given all 3 trimesters and no they are not comprehensive between trimesters).

I'm tempted to switch the order, and I still might, but as things sit right now I am not going to.  Univariate Data Analysis (which includes all the S-ID.#1-6 standards) seems like a good place to start their Interactive Notebooks.  I dug out paper and started coming up with a foldable for measures of central tendency (on Father's day, 3 days after school let out)   Next I started on making a pretty complicated box and whisker foldable (still am not happy with it).  My notes list distribution (general), standard deviation, z-scores, normal curve (I know what this one will look like, and haven't found one online already) as topics to prepare for as well.  Here's where I got lazy smarter and began looking for foldables relating to these topics on pinterest and online.

During this first unit, I also plan on having discussions with the students about remediation (as prescribed by their scores on the evaluation I described on their previous posting).  I am willing to bet that there will be very few (if any) students who need no remediation.  I plan to then use that data in relation to this unit.

I can imagine that with remediation lessons that this unit will likely take a couple more days than it did last year, which I am ok with as I know that Sequences and Series was dragged out a little to fit into the trimesters timeline.

My hope is to have an IN fully created (or at least fully mapped out) for each of these first 3 units well before school starts again in September. I also plan on taking pictures of each student created foldable and/or notebook page during the school year (so they can be chronicled on my Weebly site, for absent students)

concerns:  all math teachers must use Common Assessments (tests and quizzes, though I will be making changes to the quizzes as I will be trying SBG).  Also, because student schedules change each trimester we need to be at the same point in the curriculum by that point.  As I am planning on making the IN a requirement, what do I do with students who don't have me the previous trimester?  How do I make SBG work given the scheduling issue I've previously mentioned?  Also, the department has a required percentage break-down for grading purposes, I will need to describe to the administration (parents and the department chair) the reasons why I will not be using it and what exactly my breakdown will be and how it should benefit students (and be convertible to a grade for progress report and trimester grading purposes).  I do plan on posting my thoughts about SBG (of which I admit to being a novice) during a posting later in the summer.

Blog Posting #1 (sort-of)

OK, Sam.

Here goes....

I teach in a school which was identified as a failing school 5 years ago.  We were required to choose one of three options to turn around the school.  The options were to close, to become a charter, to fire half of the staff and try to fix things with new teachers or to remove the principal and try to fix things with the current staff.  The last option was chosen.

We implemented many new programs, brought in "experts" and had way too many meetings. Most of the staff were charged with improving reading scores, and the math department was alone tasked with working on math scores.  Grant monies funded many of the changes, but the programs had to be self-perpetuating once the money was gone.  Amazingly, our staff was able to create enough change to bring the school off of the failing list.

In math, we are still getting students woefully prepared for high school leveled mathematics and the current focus on all things Common Core leave me concerned that I am poorly preparing students for the kinds of assessments I have seen released by the major assessment groups.  I know the excuses, I've heard them, I've said them.  I also know that falling victim to them, again would be performing a disservice to the students I will be spending the next 180 days teaching.

I love the idea of standards based grading, but without identifying where the students currently are and performing mathematical triage on their current deficiencies it doesn't make sense.  Also, I think the idea of interactive notebooks and helping the students feel more engaged with their interaction with mathematics seems like a winner too.  This becomes 3 major goals/changes to my current teaching.  I'll admit the prospect is daunting.  I wish someone else at my school was performing the same kind of self-reflection.

I've started by writing a skills assessment, for use at the very beginning of the school year.  In order to make it easier to evaluate, I want it to be graded by data director (assessment analysis software).  I also want to require students to show work on all problems, and I want these tests to serve as a starting point to helping students see their strengths and weaknesses.  Setting up this assessment in Data D has proven to be more difficult than I would have thought as clusters and standards are cumbersome to set up.

I hope to eventually share my thoughts on SBG and how I see Interactive Notebooking working with how we have broken up Algebra2 with regard to common core and perhaps even receive feedback from others further along each of these processes.  But I will save that for another day.