Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Unit Tests, Performance Tasks, Field Trips, BBs & Halloween... oh my!

Before I even start this entry, there is something I must say...

I am all caught up on my (paper-based) grading!  

I know that only fellow teachers can actually appreciate those few, ever-so-brief, few-and-far-between moments where you are actually all caught up on your grading <3  So yeah, I am doing my happy dance.   Here are some of the goings on in my math & art teacher life...

Unit Assessments:
Work has been busy, but good busy.  Not the overwhelming kind, the happily productive kind.  My 6th graders took their Prime Time unit assessment last week and they did OK.  Not great, but OK.  I made my first review video of the year, and I am letting them do test corrections.  I think moving forward, I would like to include at least one quiz before the next unit assessment, to gauge formal understanding more.  The problem with that is our periods are so short (42 minutes only) and I hate taking away from our already limited class time.  My AP has mentioned that we might be changing the schedule to have longer periods (it is a school-wide concern), which would be fantastic, but for now I have to make do with what we have.

My 7th graders are taking their unit assessment tomorrow, so we'll see how they do.  The next suggested unit is supposed to be Stretching & Shrinking, but I may just skip that one and go right into Comparing & Scaling, with maybe some Stretching & Shrinking problems thrown in.  I am going just based on prior experience, but I need to go back to the standards and baseline and make my final decision.

Performance Tasks:
Something I did last year was use released state-test constructed response questions as standard performance tasks.  I held onto these pieces for student portfolios and used them as formal pieces of student work.  I used to think of these pieces as "meeting the standard" but this year my thinking is more that these are the bare minimum to demonstrate mastery of the CCLS.  I have all the 6th, 7th, and 7th grade released state test questions organized by standard, but not Algebra 1 yet, so I think my next step is to find some high school-level performance tasks and incorporate them into my rotation.

Field Trips:
I scheduled my first field trip!  I am super excited to be taking my 6th grade art class to the Canstruction Exhibit in Manhattan next month!  It ties in really well with my Pop Art unit and it's for a great cause.  Typically my school doesn't do Friday field trips, but since art is on a Friday, I was able to make it happen.  I feel really organized and my kids were excited when I told them about it last week.  On a personal note, it's just nice being excited about things like field trips again because last year, I just wasn't.

Ahh yes, one of my least favorite parts about teaching - having to update the BB, which is weird, because I love scrapbooking and stuff like that.  Our first official BBs are due by the end of day tomorrow and I am looking forward to putting up my 7th graders Dealing Down reports (our BB theme this time around is "inquiry").

So even though we don't have school on Halloween, I have found some cute Halloween-themed explorations for my math club on Friday (Halloween Logic Puzzle, Witches Potion, Halloween Algebra Puzzles, and of course problems from Math Counts) and a great Pop Art Halloween themed activity for my art class, in addition to finishing up their Pop Art Candy Wrapper piece.  When one of my 7th graders saw the candy corn catapults that my math club made last week, he even said he wished he had signed up for math club instead, which was pretty cool.  I am grateful that I get to teach these two electives because they give me such freedom to try out different things and they allow me the time to explore different projects with my kids.  

I love celebrating random holidays with my advisory every day.  I highly recommend National Day Calendar, because it's both fun and educational.

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