Off to a good start

Regular classes started on Wednesday. Despite my having tried to condense my “this is what the class looks like” stuff so I could get into actual content, I only had a few minutes for math in 3 of the classes, and didn’t get to it at all in the other two. That was a bit sad for me.

The main reason for that, though, was that I went ahead and introduced standards-based grading to the kids, and it took longer than I expected. (Amazingly, despite MY having mulled this thing over for several weeks, it was totally new to them!) But they are very enthusiastic about the concept. I was reading through my description, and they were kind of staring at me glassy-eyed, and then I stopped reading and said, “That means that if I give a test on Thursday, and you don’t really get it on Thursday, but over the weekend you practice and then you come in on Monday and show me, I will change your grade to show that you really do understand it.” In every single class, that was what got their attention. I think they’re currently thinking that it’s too good to be true. :)

I do have a few kids who seem worried about my not grading their homework. I reassured them that (1) they will have the answers ahead of time, so they’ll be able to see if they’re doing it correctly, (2) we will go over problems that confused them in class the next day, and (3) I will look over any individual student’s homework and give more specific feedback if he or she wants me to do so. Also, I’m keeping track of whether they’re doing the homework or not in an “ungraded” category in my grade book, just on a 0-1-2 scale, so that if I see they’re having trouble understanding, I have a record of their practice and can say “you need to try doing your homework” or “you’re already doing your homework, so let’s figure out another strategy to help you.” With all those things in place, the kids who were worried seemed satisfied.

I told the other high school math teacher about SBG, and she is on board and using it in her classes as well (though her implementation is a little different, like she’s using a 5-point scale where I’m using a 4-point one). I’ve also talked about it with teachers in other subject areas, and while they’re not yet drinking the kool-aid, they’re talking about how tasty it looks. :) One English teacher in particular is really interested in learning more about it with the goal of possibly switching to SBG for the second semester. Do you know of any English edubloggers using SBG? If so, let me know so I can point her to them to read.

I have about a million thoughts on how my first couple of days of actual math lessons went, but I don’t have the energy to post them right now, as Little Precious was up sick all last night. So I’ll just leave you all a picture of the door to my classroom:

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