It's Sunday afternoon, the day before Term 3 starts. I can't believe we are already halfway through the school year here in Australia, and that I've been in this country for 6 months! Time has flown by.
This will be my second term flipping my year 7, 8 and 9 maths classes, and I have thought a lot about how to improve on the model this term. These are my goals for improving my classroom lessons this term:
Goal Number 1
Use more problem solving within lessons, starting with teaching students how to solve problems, with help from George Polya. More on this here.
Goal Number 2
Improve techniques for formative assessment. I thought it would be great to incorporate technology into this goal, and after looking around at various options I have decided to try using the student response system Socrative. I think I will start using it by doing Exit Tickets at the end of lessons, along with multiple choice or short answer questions to start off the lesson to see how well the students have understood the video the night before.
I have also planned some formative tasks into my Year 8 and 9 units.
Year 9 will be doing a unit on Linear Relations so I will be using these two tasks from the Mathematics Assessment Project Classroom Challenges, which is an American Resource:
Lines and Linear Equations
Modeling Solutions with Linear Equations
Year 8 are doing a unit on Probability. Before any theory is taught the students will be doing this activity from the Nuffield Foundation:
Which involves a game where students have to try and choose the numbers that will occur most frequently when three dice are thrown. I love the Nuffield Foundation activities because not only do they give detailed information on how to teach and assess mathematical processes, they also give examples of students work and the types of questions you might ask students to really see if they have a deep understanding of the mathematics.
I will also used some activities from Nrich, which has a fantastic section on teaching probability, including research and case studies of schools who have used the tasks. The tasks I am going to use are:
Which Team Will Win
The Dog Ate My Homework
These activities will also help me to achieve Goal Number 1!
Goal Number 3
I really want to improve the behaviour of my classes, namely my all boys Year 8 class. Before the holidays I started using Class Dojo with them, which seemed to help, so I will continue to use that. What I liked about Class Dojo is that you can keep track of both positive and negative behaviour at the same time. As a class we came up with rewards for those students who consistently display positive behaviour. The best part is that the rewards are not things like prizes or chocolate. The reward is a certificate for those who have over 95% positive behaviour for the week, and longer term is a letter home to their parents.
Which leads me to a "sub-goal" of Goal Number 3, and that is to communicate more with parents. Calling parents, for either good or bad news, is so effective, and I KNOW this! It's just that at 5:30pm when I am drained after a day at school, the last thing I want to do is get on the phone with a parent. But the pay off is worth it, and I always feel that way when I finish the call. I'm always so glad I did it once it's over. (In a way calling parents is a bit like exercise... you know you should, you know you'll feel better once it's done, and even while it's happening... but the thought of it is just so overwhelming!) Maybe I need to find a better time to call them, and not leave it until the evening when I just want to get home. I will have to think more about that one.
Anyway, 3 goals is enough for anyone, and I hope I have made them 'smart' enough that I will be able to make progress towards achieving them. I look forward to reporting the results here on this blog on a regular basis. (I feel another goal coming on...)