As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve decided I want to put aside time each week to reflect upon my week, lessons, students, and, basically, anything that I find to be relevant or worth revisiting. I think that one of the best ways to do this is to have a weekly blog post where I reflect on each week. Every week is different. As an educator, it is important to see these difference and reflect upon our educational practices. It’s one of the greatest ways that we can grow and improve student achievement and engagement.
And – wow! This week certainly has requires a bit of reflection.
Quote of the Week
Recently, I’ve begun sharing a “Quote of the Week” with my students on their “Daily Check-In & Practice” that they complete on Google Forms as the come into the classroom. During this check-in time, the students are asked a question or two about their day, given a quote to read, and one math problem to solve. I have fallen in love with this process! I’ve learned so much about my students through the questions about their day and we have had some great conversations about these quotes.
I gave this quote to my students to because they really struggle with failing. Now, I don’t mean that they fail in their assignments, quizzes, tests, etc. I teach Math 7 Honors students – they very rarely fail. To them, however, failing could be receiving an 80%. To them, this is devastating. To receive less than an 80% for them of them can be so discouraging and overwhelming. They freeze. They don’t know what to do when these times of “failure” arrive.
To me, I wanted my students to realize that moments of “failure” may arrive, but their response to failure is more important than the failure itself. I wanted them to ask themselves the questions: What do I do when I fail? Do I learn from it? Do I grow from it? Or, do I give up?
One of my parting comments to my students on this quote was this idea: You can truly only fail if you do not try or you give up.
The Election Season
I find it ironic that I chose the quote above as our “Quote of the Week” as Election week comes to a close. Initially, I chose this quote in relation to their personal resiliency in Math. However, after the results from the election, I find that this quote can have an entirely different direction.
My students opinions on the election were extremely mixed. I would say that there was an even number of students who supported Clinton and Trump. Surprisingly, my students did not have much of a reaction to the election results. I had very little response from my students the day following the election, but I had heard them talk about the election for quite a few weeks before election day so I knew where they stood. However, I think that this quote that they read each day throughout our week was very relevant. Not everyone is going to be happy with the results from the election. Depending upon their stance, some students will be happy and excited, but others may be angry, sad, and upset. Everyone is entitled to their feelings, but how they react to it, is what matters. Although we didn’t discuss the results of the election in our Math class, I hope that this quote caused students to reflect on how they react during times of high stress and emotion.
Unit 2: Assessments – Great Content Skills, Lacking Literacy Skills
During this school year, I have done a much better job of incorporating assessments that are based upon skill and performance. At the close of each unit, I have begun giving my students a “Skills Assessment” and a “Performance Task”. The “Skills Assessment” is largely based upon the skills and applications that are tied to CCSS. For example, this assessment usually resembles a typical assessment, where students are asked to solve equations, evaluate expressions, etc. These problems can be basic skills or application-based word problems. The “Performance Task”, on the other hand, is based upon a task that students are asked to complete. Usually, this is an advanced multi-step problem based upon content standards, but related to “real world” scenarios.
For the most part, the students were very successful on the skills assessment but struggled on the performance task. This is not surprising, but it shows me that I still have much more work to do in helping my students to obtain the literacy skills to be successful on a performance task. After all, if the students understand how to write and solve equations on the skills assessment, they should be able to do these tasks on the performance task, as well. However, the performance task asks them to understand a question that is not as “straightfoward” as they would see on the skills assessment. They have to read and decode the problem. They have to understand the academic vocabulary associated with the question.
I think my students greatest issues is that they move too fast. They must slow down, read, and analyze the text. Since they have such strong content knowledge, they are confident and think that they understand the problem by quickly reading through it. By doing this, they miss important context clues and questions from the text. It’s not a lack of content skills – it’s a lack of literacy skills. As the teacher, it is my job to help improve this gap in their literacy skills to help them become successful in all aspects of Math, whether it is in content skills or literacy.