Sunday, May 31, 2015

Coming Soon: The Year I Won't Change Everything

I wrapped up the 2014-2015 school year a few weeks ago. Since then I've been simply enjoying the time at home. This week I hope to work in my classroom a day or two, so I thought it was time to reflect and collect my thoughts a bit.

I am proud of the two major projects my colleagues and I accomplished this year:

1.  We implemented SBG. We still have some work to do . . . but the best part is that we know, better than ever, what our students do and do not know.

2. We used our standards as the starting point for deciding what to teach. We focused on making sure we had all the standards covered and worked on a cohesive skills list to follow students from 9th grade through trigonometry. It is not a finished product, but we made a ton of progress!

We set a few goals to accomplish as a group for next year:

*Continue refining skills lists for 9th-11th. Add 12th to the list.
*Adjust how SBG scores are converted to grades . . . we are concerned that a few students ended up with passing grades even though they had multiple skills still un-mastered.
*Stop giving points for things that don't directly reflect students' knowledge. (Looking at you, binder organization grade). Figure out how to encourage & support organization skills without this grade.
*Work on strategies to help students RETAIN what they've learned beyond the assessments.

In other news . . . an exciting family update as depicted by our five-year-old:

We're blaming our daughter, as she has ended almost every day for years by praying for a brother or a sister. Baby brother arrives in late September . . . and so I am hoping for a productive summer and crossing my fingers for a very capable substitute teacher to take care of things while I'm away in the fall.

So here's my (paired down) summer list:

1. Leave calculus and physics (mostly) alone.
2. All changes for my Algebra 2 classes should be smaller adjustments. No re-inventing of the wheel. Not this year.
3. Plan all my classes through the first semester. Is this realistic? Repeat #1 and #2 out loud.
4. Look for ways to incorporate review, but more in a spiral-y way vs. the "review this because its going to be on the test tomorrow" type.
5. Stay calm. Take some guilt-free naps. Enjoy my summer.


  1. Excitation! Congratulations on the new baby and finally not re-inventing the wheel. I have not accomplished either of those! :) But I am quite the expert at guilt-free naps!

    1. Thank you. :) We will see if my resolve comes true or not. I am notorious for starting from scratch whether I need to or not! Enjoy your summer and enjoy those naps!

  2. You mentioned needing to tweak grades. How do you assign grades using SBG? I want so desperately to jump in, but I'm trying to gather lots of info so that I can go to my principal with a detailed plan--something we can both stand behind firmly. What can you tell me about how you assign grades?

    1. Hi Teri! Thanks for reading and best of luck with SBG. I waited and read a very long time before getting started, and now I will never go back!

      My grading scale is very similar to Sarah's:

      I will link to her description because it is more clear than what I would put together here in the comment.

      The change we are considering is recording a "no score" for levels 0-1 (and possibly) 2 with required re-assessment until the student reaches at least level 3.

      Hope that helps!

  3. A Boy!! So thrilled for you all! I'd say you need to take the summer to baby yourself--before the baby. Your department is so far ahead of the rest of us--next year is sure to be a success, whether you miss a couple of months or not!