If You’re Reading This, It Is Already Too Late

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If you’re reading this, it it already too late.  I have already begun to instill confidence in my students.  They, not I, have worked hard to develop their understanding of the 7th grade math concepts.  Even with a shaky foundation, they press forward through the productive struggle and have celebrated each milestone they have surpassed.  This cannot be contributed to superficial coverage of material to stay within some arbitrary deadlines of feeding information.  This comes from what people preach but very rarely practice, meeting the students’ needs.

No we haven’t spent weeks on the same topic and so we got behind, that’s way we implement small groups.  We’ve spent quality time building conceptual understanding, practicing the skill and applying the skill within contextual situations.  And yes, this takes time as any sustainable change does.

Many are pushing personalized learning, which is a complete joke when you say, “Everyone must be at this point in their understanding at this point in time”.  You cannot in one breath say, “Do what is best for your students”, then pigeon hold them to your time constraints.

So yes, it is too late.  My kids have already pleaded with me about not knowing what’s on your test.  I have walked around and watch students completely give up on trying because you are expecting them to show what they know about content which is currently foreign to them.  I’ve comforted a student who drew a line through his answer document as his confidence plummeted as he said to me, “I can’t pass this, I don’t know any of this.”  That’s not because he is not smart or because he is incapable of passing.  It is simply because we have not gotten to that content yet.

There has to be a better way.  We formatively assess but make it evaluative.  We push for personalize learning, but imply students must be at the same place at the same time in their learning.  We talk about student progress, but rank schools based on achievement, not growth.  And through all this students struggle to build resilience with a content it has become commonplace for people to say, “I’m not good at math or I’m not a math person”.

I almost didn’t post this.  But if you’re reading this, it is already too late.

There’s a Disconnect

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To me, the whole purpose of students submitting assignments is for me to see what they know and understand at the time the work is submitted. It’s like a checkpoint, a formative assessment and not just a grade in the gradebook. This year, I’ve been very intentional about implementing tasks to build understanding, formatively assessing almost daily and using a rubric to evaluate student understanding. 

Even still, there’s been a bit of a recurring theme for my students. I noticed that many students do well on class work and formative assessments scoring 2’s and 3’s on a 4 point rubric. However, when it comes to the common assessments student score poorly. This has baffled me so much.  How can a student show they understand one moment and appear to have no idea on a certain assessment?  No need to assume Jenise, just ask them.  So I did. 





The black lists are factors students contribute to poor performance







The orange list are suggestions students gave to me to try to help them. My thoughts are in blue.

Take a close look at the first orange list. What do you notice? Some of the feedback was very enlightening. There were suggestions given that I was already providing but the students didn’t make a connection to their purpose. There were things I would definitely try. Of course some things were suggested to which I could not compromise such as give extra credit, use traditional grading, and give them rules or steps to follow. 

I’ve learned so much just by asking their opinion, being transparent and being open to receive whatever they may say. These things may very well be the key to dissolving the disconnect. 

Tailor Made

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I have fashion forward students. So there are times when I use fashion to peak their math interest. This past week’s Question of the Week involved Jordan’s recently released. 

Just about everyone answered it correctly. 

To engage students in problem solving involving percentage I went to the nearest Rue 21 and asked if I could film a 3-act task.   After a few uncomfortable stares they agreed and I was able to put this together. 

Instantly they were hooked. 

1st Academic 

Noticed



Wonders



Just right estimations











Student work samples