Monday, September 6, 2010

SBG: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

We've finished five weeks of school now, so I wanted to go over those promises I made to myself in the last post.

1) 1) This year I’m determined to implement something that I only thought about last semester: mandatory tutoring for anyone two concepts or more behind. Even if it lasts a month, it’ll make a huge difference.
YUP! And it's working. I've been offering the carrot of "Raise your grade! Get points back! Be proud of learning more!" WITH the stick of "If you still fail after taking the quiz three times in class, you get a week of tutoring." Getting kids to come to tutoring (talking to them, handing out slips, calling parents, writing referrals when they don't come so they get that I mean business about this...) is exhausting, but the tutoring itself is WORKING. I usually love tutoring because it let me connect with my kids and get to know them individually. This mini-group tutoring is harder, but I'm seeing improvements.

After my kids took Quiz B: Understanding Fractions three times (and only the numbers changed each time), I filed everyone that got a 3, 3.5, 4, or 5 away and made two folders: all my 1s, and all my 2s. I'm working my way through the 1s right now, and I'd say the split bewteen "truly confused on concepts and procedures" versus "too lazy to try" has been... 30-70? Something like that. I try to end every tutoring session with reminding them that if they don't do well on the next quiz they'll get tutoring again, so ask questions BEFORE time is up. It IS frustrating. A lot. But its so much better than letting it slide and then having my head explode in December because they still think 1/3 is equal to 3/1!

2) I require students to do extra practice to learn for no points, so they could take the quiz. This resulted in whining and/or anger for 90% of students who are trained to be rewarded by points like trained seals.

This hasn't happened this year! Halleluijah, thank God and all his cherubim (I love -im plural words), I have had almost NO kids ask "Do I get extra credit for practicing this?" I don't know what happened, but I am willing to burn a sacrifice to whatever deity made this happen. Just let me know, immortal being(s). The few that HAVE said this have been during detention ("What? I have to do math for detention? I thought I just had to sit here [and let my brain rot]" "Sorry, you thought wrong!") have accepted the brief explanation of "No, you're here for detention. Do this and you get to leave."

Sidenote: Writing this down makes me sound like quite the b*tch at times. More on this later.

3) Once a week quizzes in class is not enough. I’m going to try twice a week this year. Also, one HUGE difference: returning quizzes the next day isn’t enough. I plan to give quizzes at the beginning of the class... and grade and return them NOW.

Returning same day hasn't worked, just because my first concept quizzes were so LONG. But I have been returning the next day, and the students are really eager to see their grades and color in their checklists. I've also been sticking to once a week quizzes for the same reason, but its working okay!

Overall, I'm having a good time (when not exhausted) and I'm DEFINITELY seeing enough results to make this worth my while.

No comments: