Week Two: First quiz, Sub plans & Parent night

Week two has ended and I’m still flying high. This second week came with some challenges; I’m certain that some things could have gone better, but there were no disasters so I’m taking that as a victory.

On Tuesday I gave my first quiz of the year. I considered two different models for quizzing within the station/rotation model. The first would have been to give the assessment at one of the stations while the rest of the class continued to prepare for the quiz or moved on to new material. I’m still interested in giving this a try sometime but planning to do the first quiz that way overwhelmed me. I felt that I would have needed two versions of the quiz become some students would be at the independent station on Tuesday and some on Wednesday. It also would have been difficult to provide a quiet and distraction free environment for those taking the quiz. Instead, I arranged the desks in rows for class on Tuesday. We spent about 20 minutes going over the review assignment as a whole class and then everyone took the quiz at the same time during the second part of class. The quiz was eight questions and counted for 20 points. There were four questions that required students to compare & order numbers and four questions on classifying numbers. The average grade over all four classes was 83% and only one student scored under 60%. I was pleased with these results.

On Thursday I was out of the classroom for a training, unrelated to the station/rotation model. One of my coteachers also attended the training, which left our shared class with two substitutes. Substitutes in our district have not yet undergone the required technology training so I was not able to leave plans that utilized any technology. Basically, we needed the students to get some practice with the order of operations while we were away. This was a topic that was introduced on Wednesday. I debated leaving “traditional” plans: keep the desks in rows, assign a worksheet for students to do independently, collect at the end of class. You can consider the pros and cons of these plans. I discussed with my coteacher and decided to leave plans where students were working in the stations. In order to simplify things slightly we had the  whole class doing the same activity (first a practice worksheet, then a puzzle) at the same time. Some were doing the assignment collaboratively, some independently and some with the teacher. The substitute left feedback that was mainly positive, the student reaction on Friday was mainly positive and work that was collected showed that students had been fairly productive.

Thursday evening we welcomed parents and families to our annual parent night. We had over 1300 family members sign-in at the high school. We give families a copy of their child’s schedule and invite them to participate in an abbreviated version of the school day. They meet each of their child’s teachers for eight minutes. I had 5-10 parents visit each of my Algebra 1 classes. I briefly introduced myself and my coteachers but spent the majority of the time describing the classroom structure. There were a lot of affirming head-nods during our talk but I was surprised that there were very few questions or other reactions. It seemed that most parents were simply “taking it in”. We did not talk about the curriculum, grading policies, or the state test although these topics were all addressed in my course syllabus.

Looking ahead: I’m glad to have found time to blog for two weeks in a row now and am encouraged to keep going. In next week’s post I’ll plan to zoom in on one station/rotation class period, describing and reflecting on the planning and implementation of each station.

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