Research has long shown that fraction arithmetic is difficult for students. We also now know that success when working with fractions is one of the best predictors for success in post-secondary education. With this in mind, one of my prime focuses in math 8 is to do the very best I can with teaching fractions to my students. The research on fraction arithmetic tells us that by grade 8, students have a success rate of around 50% when adding fractions.
Kids these days don’t know as much because of grade inflation. That makes no sense to me. Kids may, or may not, know as much as they use to but what they “know” is a result of the teaching that happens in the classroom. After the lessons, learning and practicing a student is assessed and typically given some number. Whether that number is 70 or 90, the learning has already happened.
At a recent “Communicating Student Learning” meeting in Vancouver we were presented with a proposed 4pt scale for recording student progress. Emerging - Developing - Proficient - Extending At first glance this scale seems pretty good. I’m a fan of smaller vs. larger scales. In fact, in my day-to-day formative assessment using SBG I prefer to use a 3pt scale. The reason for this because the scale is very easy to understand and the levels are never ambiguous.
In an earlier post I wrote about how I felt that I tend to move slowly through curriculum. One of the things I do that slows things down is frequent quizzing and post-quiz self/group assessment. Usually once every 5 classes (or less) we will have a quiz that can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 25 minutes. Once everyone is finished, the quizzes are handed back to the students and we go over the solutions.
I recently read Daisy Christadoulou’s new book “Making Good Progress? The future of Assessment For Learning”. It was a good read and helped clarify several questions or ideas I’ve had about assessment in education. In her book, Christodoulou discusses why formative assessment hasn’t delivered the goods, the pitfalls of invalid summative assessments, and how to improve both of these. It’s worth noting that the generalities of Christodoulou’s book apply for everyone but there are some things that are specific to England’s education system.
One thing that I’ve struggled with for years is trying to fit in the curricular content for physics 11. I know that I’m weeks behind most physics teachers in BC. I always start the year off with the best intentions with planning, and the planning is generally ok in that I remain focused on the goals and sequence.* I’m interested in trying to improve my sequence and scheduling so that it is appropriate in coverage and understanding, and accomplishes what I want it to, recognizing that unit planning is a personal thing even when working within the guidelines of the set curriculum.
I’ve been interested in assessment and reporting from the start of my teacher trainging, and it’s been the biggest focus of my Professional Development as a teacher. In the past two years I’ve been involved in communicating student learning (CSL) working groups with my school district. One of the motivators for these working groups is to get our pedagogy and procedures in-line with the new curriculum. In this blog post I want to briefly discuss the intersection of CSL and pedagogy.
This year I had students use Excel for plotting graphs in physics. I went pretty good for constant velocity but very awkward for constant acceleration. It required students to manually find tangent lines on their x-t graphs, calculate slopes, then put it all together coherently to produce a v-t graph. There are lots of things going on in this task and while I think many physics teachers see value in this, I also think that performing all the manual steps the confounds foundation ideas in the constant acceleration model.
I started this year determined to go all in for Office 365. Things I was hoping to leverage: VSB outlook emails so I would never have to collect student email addresses and students would always be able to re-set their passwords OneNote notebook sharing so our day-to-day agenda, topics covered, handouts and notes would be instantly available to students Forms to take care of soliciting student ideas or input OneDrive for sharing Excel and Word files with me So far things have not been working out super great.
With some upcoming elections in Vancouver I figure now is as good as time as any to discuss indepenedent schools in BC. For those that aren’t clear, “independent” is synomomus with “private.” There’s my first beef with the idea. Everyone knows that people don’t like the term “private school” so they changed the name. It reminds me of how fundamentalist Christians weren’t allowed to teach Creationism in public schools anymore so they changed the name to “Intelligent Design.