Sorry for the reblogged posts of late. I am researching what kind of practices I want to incorporate into my classroom for next year and am “compiling” blogs about the pieces I need.

As I work more and more with my 8th graders, I am of the same mind as Jim Scammell. The students who are taking homework home and bringing it completed the next day are the ones who are good students and driven by grades. Those students who truly need the practice leave their materials at school because they either go out and hang with their friends all night, or go home and take care of their siblings because their parents are going out and hanging with their friends all night. Our district uses a Developmental Design behavioral strategy, and with that is a lesson plan layout of Spark/Lesson/Reflect- which is similar to Jim’s model of class. I have 60 minute classes so my breakdown is normally 15/30/15 (For 3Acts, my time is typically 15 Act1, 30 Act2, 15 Act3). During this time, I try to allow for as much in-class work as possible.

With that, formal Direct Instruction has gone out the door for me. Typically I present student with some type of problem, or more recently a picture or video (in a 3Acts format). I allow students to work on the problem, walk around and check in on students, and offer quick help. One thing that my students are not used to when they first enter my class is the type of help I provide them. I ask questions (normally those I listed in my previous blog), I never give answers and that throws students for a loop. After a few minutes of good student struggle, I discuss things about the problem as a class. We list strategies to try, and work through them. One thing I don’t do during this is erase any strategy, just because it didn’t work the way the class is progressing through this problem doesn’t mean it won’t be helpful in future problems. We get a problem done, and they are given another that becomes student led.

When that problem is finished, we hit the 30 minutes of practice and this is where I would look at splitting students into either similar solver or mixed skill level groups- depending on what activity I had planned for the day. This is my time to give differentiated instruction to my similar solver students, and to support student discourse in the mixed level groups, similar to what was posted on the Life of Mrs. Rilley. Which group students would be placed in would depend on whether it was a discovery day or practice/application day. I really want to be careful of creating a “tracked” theme with myself or the students as evidenced by Fawn Nguyen. There will be days where I will utilize both groupings. When students are discovering or applying mathematical skills I want a mixed group so students approach the problem from all angles. This also provides the opportunity for a lot of mathematical conversations about what method students should implement and whether their answer is correct. During practice time I want to correct student mistakes or misconceptions and would provide work appropriate to their challenges with the mathematical concept (group students with a similar misconception, group by a missing skill, group students who have a great handle of the topic and provide them with enrichment activities). With Ashli’s approach to grading, students would not see this as any type of leveling of “smartness”- and would realize the grouping as a result of need.

After we have the problem worked out, students would get either the big reveal or an exit pass. When students receive the big reveal they would be expected to discuss the similarities or differences in their work and answer. Students would show their work (via a doc-cam) and work through how they solved it and what troubles they encountered (if any). Since I would have them in groups, there would be 4-5 presentations and students would share out reporting duties. Before students left class in this scenario, they would be expected to complete an exit reflection form- giving me information on how they perceived the activity, what things were good/bad about it, and what they now know and still need help with. This will help me “tweak” the activity to my student’s needs.

If my class is comprised of practice/application then all I really want to do is give them an Exit Pass that has problems from the practice on it, as well as 3 Reflection questions so that I can better address these problems for the next class period. The problems on the Exit Pass/Reflection form would be graded in my gradebook, but not for students. Instead, questions about their work will greet students to create conversations about what they need to correct.

Using these forms will allow me to differentiate instruction for the next day, which will improve student performance in class. I am still thinking out formal end-of-unit assessment, but this plan is really taking shape in my mind and I am excited to implement it for the upcoming year.