Thursday, July 22, 2010

Decisions for the new year...

We're back from the white sand beaches of Panama City, Florida.  Luckily, they were non-oilly and beautiful!

So now that vacation's over, I feel like the work must begin.  I spent some time today getting assignment sheets ready for my Algebra 1 class (here's an example of one) in the hopes of keeping them on track and organized.  I haven't taught low-level freshmen since my first year of teaching (a lifetime ago!) and I'm a little worried about it all but hopefully if I start tough and show them that I expect a lot out of them they'll respond accordingly.  It's the tough part that's going to be the hardest - it's just not in my personality. :)

I was considering for a while before I went on vacation to try the Standards Based Grading idea that has been floating around twitter lately.  I think the notion has a lot of merit and would be a great way to keep focused on making sure the kids are learning what they need to be learning (and not just going for the grades)  but I don't think I'll try it this year.  I am planning on breaking down my tests/quizzes into different core topics and try and keep more of a focus that way.  Then I will be able to tell if re-teaching/testing is needed either on an individual or class basis from there.

One new thing that's coming this school year is a change in the district grading scale.We're going to a +/- scale that is more generous than our last one.  The lowest F moves to a 65% from a 70%, which I'm sure the kids will enjoy but makes me feel like I'm going to have to be more rigorous in my grading so I don't feel like I'm just "giving" the points away.  Here's the new one (it's the College Board scale):
A+ 97 -100 
A 93 - 96
A- 90 - 92
B+ 87 - 89
B 83 - 86
B- 80 - 82
C+ 77 - 79
C 73 - 76
C- 70 – 72
D+ 67 – 69
D 65 - 66
F Below 65

One thing that I've done for the past 5 or so years is a problem of the week, for which I gave 3 (and changed to 2 this past year) extra credit points.  The majority of the kids who did the problems enjoyed the extra challenge and there were kids with high A's doing the problems every week for fun.  I hate to take that away, but I really don't want to pad grades with the extra leeway they've already been given.  My most recent thought was to use some of my problems as warm-ups. These interspersed with regular warm-up type problems might keep things unpredictable.  Any thoughts?

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