Thursday, February 18, 2010

Journaling in math????

Yes, as weird as it sounds, we've been doing some journal writing in math class. This may seem strange, but....  Why do teachers in other disciplines journal? For reflective thinking! Should we reflectively think in math class?  I think so. Students need time to process the content we're covering, a place to ask questions that they may not be willing to ask in a group setting.

My brother-in-law Russ Goerend has a great post about a standards based journaling approach.  (Good journaling article, and a plug for family!) Now, I've chosen to not grade the journals. I've written before about my grading practices here. I started with paper journals. Students many times forgot to bring theirs or such, so it was a paper mess for me to follow up with them etc.

But...., I made a transition. I created an edmodo group for my students. This has allowed me to give the students a reflective question and they can answer. What I like about it is the ability of other students to respond as well. This does take some of the protectiveness out of the conversation, but they can also just send me a direct message and it's not viewable within the whole group.

I also really like it for the ease of feedback, I can just click reply and send the student some feedback on their writing. This has allowed us to reduce the paper usage in our classroom as well as stimulate collaboration 24-7 .

I know there are other sites like edmodo, please share them so I can compile a list to share!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Off the beaten path.... Proper use of Social Media

I've had this question stewing in my mind for the last couple of weeks, so I thought I would write about it.  Now, I know this isn't about formative assessment or standards based grading like my blog is supposed to be about, but hey... this is my space, so I can write what I want!  :)

Anyhow, back to my thoughts on the proper use of social media in education. Much has been written about using twitter as a collaborative tool: here and here thanks @plugusin.  I can't agree more! Twitter is a great place to share, collaborate, and learn about numerous things. There are so many resources, ideas, and challenging questions shared daily. For me personally, I have learned so much about teaching, learning, and leading from the various people I follow and collaborate with.

My dilemma, if you call it a dilemma, is the different ways people treat twitter. For some, twitter is a strictly professional tool. Their tweets are all about education. Others see twitter as a very social tool.  A place to kid, jab, and have a good time with each other. Many more, fall somewhere in the middle, they like the professional learning, but also develop relationships with people from across the globe that they would have no other connection with.

Now, you may be wondering what the dilemma is... well, let's say that I'm demonstrating the powerful resources of twitter to a room full of teachers at my school (On a side note, I'll be doing this on Friday February 12th if you'd like to shout out! @EricTownsley). This may seem like an easy task, but imagine the embarrassment when across the screen of my Tweetdeck feed a tweet with foul language appears. This wouldn't be good, but I can't control what others are saying. My admin goes into a tizzy and shuts down my presentation and the possibility of numerous teachers joining the conversation is ruined (hypothetical situation here, hasn't happened yet).

The tweeter (is this the right term here?) that sent the foul language tweet has no idea that I may be showing this tool to the staff at my school. I follow this person because at times, they share some great resources and we have some great conversations. However, at times, they share things I don't want to know or care to hear about.

How can I distinguish, how can I filter? Now, this hasn't happened to me. I haven't been embarrassed in this way, but I could, and so could you. But I can't control what others are saying, so do I stop following and learning from someone just because of the risk they may say something I don't want to read?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

After the first unit

Well, we've just finished our first unit of the new semester.

We've taken the unit assessment and I'm going to give them their feedback and Learning Target scores! Unlike this picture, the assessments aren't all multiple choice.  I did have some multiple choice problems on this particular test.  I did this because we're taking the Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED) this week so I thought it would be good to talk about taking standardized tests. Some things I've learned during this time...

1. Taking time to provide feedback and define scores on Learning Targets is more time consuming than grading tests my old way. 

2. I don't have to grade each assignment, so I save time during the course of the unit.

3. Instead of just identifying right or wrong answers, students seem to respond better to "feedback".  I provide them with a response to their answers, what they did wrong or some positive feedback if they did it correctly. 

Is everything going as planned with the new grading system?  I can't say that it is, I've got some students who aren't turning in the practice, but what does that mean? Are they not finding the meaning in learning or are they taking the easy road? I plan to have conversations with them, encourage them to really get involved in their learning.  It's a process, not an event.  I must keep remembering that!