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MrsPhysics MrsPhysics is offline
 
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Want to make a big change - advice needed!
Old 08-11-2019, 07:07 AM
 
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I am looking to make a big change in my HS (9th-10th grade) Algebra 1 classes this year. This is my second year teaching the course. I am not a big fan of traditional math instruction, but thatís pretty much what I did last year out of necessity. I was teaching 4 new-to-me courses out of a brand new textbook series.

When I say traditional, I mean that I would lead the students through some guided notes that included problems that I did as examples, then we would try some together, then the students would try some on their own (I would walk around to help) and student volunteers would put up answers, then the students would have more problems as an assignment while I walked around to help. I tried to make it so that students who worked the whole period would be able to finish the ďhomeworkĒ. This was pretty much the regular daily thing, except on review days I would do a variety of things like games and scavenger hunts, and of course some days were assessments. It worked pretty well from a management standpoint as the students always knew what to expect and that I was only going to require them to watch what I was doing for a short period. Also, the natural consequence of not focusing on work was that they would have homework.

My main problem with this setup is that it is boring and not well differentiated. We have an end-of-course state test, and I know I am not preparing the students well enough. The students at my school (all teachers) tend to do pretty poorly, and I think at least with my classes it is because I am able to get the majority of the class up to the point that they can come close to passing but very few have been pushed to a high enough level that they can pass. (Itís like weíre mostly getting up to a 5/10 but we need 7/10. In order for a significant group to get up to 7/10 I will need to push those students who can do it, but the whole class is NOT going to get there.) Right now, we only have about 10% passing from these lowest-level classes, so my goal for now is to get to 25% pass rate.

I have used a flipped classroom approach at another school, but I donít think it would work well here because the students do not have technology in the classroom or at home. They also tend to have really terrible homework completion, so I usually focus on class time and donít expect too much to be done at home.

I am considering try to work in small group teaching rotations, but I donít really have any experience with these. I worry about behavior, because group work tends to be a problem, and the students are not typically very good with independent work. There would most likely be an aide in the room, and around 20-25 students. I am playing around with the idea of having days 1-2 be more traditional note taking and some kind of quick formative assessment so that I can determine groupings. Days 3-4 would be the small group rotations, and then day 5 would be back together for review and day 6 assessment. I guess I would have some sort of menu-type (where students choose) assignment that the students would be working on during days 3-4 that would maybe be due on day 5? It is all so confusing!

I need advice! Does this plan sound good? Would you do something completely different? Do I give everyone the same assessment or try to level those too? Any and all advice is appreciated!


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Advice
Old 08-11-2019, 08:11 AM
 
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Quote:
I am considering try to work in small group teaching rotations, but I donít really have any experience with these. I worry about behavior, because group work tends to be a problem, and the students are not typically very good with independent work. There would most likely be an aide in the room, and around 20-25 students. I am playing around with the idea of having days 1-2 be more traditional note taking and some kind of quick formative assessment so that I can determine groupings. Days 3-4 would be the small group rotations, and then day 5 would be back together for review and day 6 assessment. I guess I would have some sort of menu-type (where students choose) assignment that the students would be working on during days 3-4 that would maybe be due on day 5? It is all so confusing!
Your plan sounds fine. Just remember to be flexible. Something you think might take 1-2 days might take 3-4 days. An assessment every 6 days may or may not happen within each of your classes. Most likely your students will dictate to you the pace. One of your classes might be able to stick to your schedule, one might be ahead, and one might be behind. My advice would be to have a schedule on paper but as the year progresses be ready to change. Have a great year.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:13 AM
 
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I'm planning on moving towards guided math this year which sounds similar to what you're intending to do. I would try reading up on it, even though a lot of the blogs I've found about it are for lower elementary, you can apply the same principles to older grades.
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Math=Love
Old 08-11-2019, 10:52 AM
 
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As a (now-retired) math teacher, I'd recommend the math=love blog https://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/

Lots of creative ideas for getting students actively involved in learning algebra.

I hope your year goes well.
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Old 08-11-2019, 02:25 PM
 
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I do a lot of Guided Groups with my math students. I think it helps because you can really address issues before they become larger problems. My advice for the independent work is to make sure it's something that can be completed in the timeframe and by a majority of the students. If you think it's something that will require some assistance, have students work in groups. Everyone is accountable though, they must all show work and turn something in. Often they help their own understanding because they work through things together. You can make yourself available for additional assistance or to help groups that really need your guidance.


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Small group
Old 08-11-2019, 05:52 PM
 
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I love teaching math in a small group. It has worked well for me. However, I teach upper elementary. I'm not sure how well that would work at the high school level. Hopefully, high school teachers have some experience and can weigh in.
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MrsPhysics MrsPhysics is offline
 
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Thank you all...
Old 08-11-2019, 05:55 PM
 
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For the advice posted so far.

I probably should have mentioned that the schedule I was giving was just for example, and yes, I will definitely be flexible with how much time to spend.

I didnít know that this strategy is called guided math! Thank you for pointing that out...I wasnít finding what I was looking for before because I was searching around for math rotation/stations. Is there any particular teaching blog or book that you think is really helpful? They all seem to be geared to elementary, but they do give good ideas.
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