The first week…

Posted on August 9, 2014



As anyone who has ever taught knows, the first week seems to be more about controlling chaos. Herding cats. Getting everyone to where they need to go when they need to be there.

And we get to meet our new children. If we’re lucky, we get to see some of our old children.

I got both. It was a good week.

New stuff for the school

Seven periods, all shorter, including shorter prep period.
Same 200 cap on the total number of students so the classes are (theoretically) smaller. For me, my two Statistics classes are jammed full at 40, but that means that my Freshman Geometry classes all hover around 25. I’m OK with that. ūüôā
Lunch is embedded in 5th, rather than 4th, period. (That is SO weird for me!)
I don’t plan on erasing the bell¬†schedule from one of my whiteboards maybe ever.

New stuff for me

I’m going to (do more than) try standards-based grading (SBG), and¬†I’m going to mix in some peer evaluation. I’ve never done it before, but I so much agree with the philosophy behind it that I have to try. I’ve found too many years that¬†having my grades based on anything else (grading assignments that may or may not be done by the student, or done by the student out of time desperation so they copied someone else, etc.) has led me to pass kiddos that don’t really know anything. I’m trying to change it.

Below is the grading¬†portion of the¬†syllabus that I’m using for all classes. The students got a copy of the full syllabus this week so they’ve had time to look at it.

Evaluation of knowledge based on the standards                                                  65%
(Standards-Based Grading ‚Äď SBG)

Self-evaluation or formative assessment (20%), peer evaluation (20%),
instructor evaluation (25%)

Project-Based Learning (PBL)                                                                                        25%

Projects are done throughout the semester, frequently taking at least a
quarter to complete with possible SBG assessments during the process.
The final product is rubric assessed

How to learn                                                                                                                          10%

Activities that give instructions on how to conduct peer assessments,
learning how to learn math topics, or are specifically tied to a CMP topic;
these activities are specifically designed to understand how to succeed
in this class and any other college-level class

We had a honeymoon week as the kiddos hammered out all the details of their schedules (changing everything to get the teachers they wanted and lunch with their friends, mostly). Since I knew that was coming, I didn’t really spend that much time with grades last week; we just got the party started.

Monday will come

On Monday, we will have a reality check. The kiddos will get to see a Power¬†Point (I hate having to watch them, so I try not to make the kiddos do that, but for this day I don’t want to forget anything). first week reality check

Activities from this week

I know that not all five days are listed. Some days are “finish up” days.


My¬†district borrowed/stole¬†the Scope and Sequence for Geometry from Fresno USD because my district is going to Integrated Math and the old S&S doesn’t have CCSS standards listed. This is the last time Geometry will be taught separately. It is also the first time this S&S is being used. It starts with constructions, which matches with a blog I read (but I can’t remember where, so I’m sorry that I can’t give props here…I would if I could!) and liked that said to not do much with numbers right away so the kiddos don’t think it is some sort of strange Algebra.

Day 1 of constructions (G CO.12 & G CO.13): Using paper, compass¬†and a¬†straightedge, fill the page (or as much as it takes to show that using a compass doesn’t cause a national crisis) with congruent circles using certain overlapping rules. It turns out like this:

Overlapping circles as art to practice with a compass

No, I didn’t make them color it.
I do this project because every year I’ve taught Geometry, I’m surprised at how much trouble many students have with a compass. A day with the tool just playing always means less trouble later in the week. (That’s MP5, FWIW)

Day 2¬†of constructions: follow instructions to make art. I was given a bunch of scans of pages from a book I’d like to find. The constructions in it get pretty complicated, so I only give the kiddos the triangle-based ones (no squares or pentagons). After doing one as a class, they can pick any two others. ¬†art – constructions

Day 3 of constructions: angle bisectors and perpendicular bisectors. It’s a worksheet, yes, but I don’t know if having them make the angles and segments on their own adds anything.¬†angle bisectors perp bisectors

I also have the kiddos look at animations of these bisectors. Open Reference: Constructions

AP Statistics and Statistics

For this past week only, they both had to tell quantitative and categorical data apart, then make bar graphs and histograms with the data as appropriate. They answered a survey on Google Forms, then got a copy of the data to do this with. The link to the form I made (modified from the one in my AP textbook):¬†Mr. Starnes’ Infamous Statistical Survey

The data of the answered questions: Data from the survey

We had some pretty funny discussions, mostly involving “students not answering the question” (there’s some very interesting answers in there), but they pretty much understood the difference between the two types of data.

Both classes were told to select one from each type of data, and use the data to make the appropriate type of graph. I won’t see those until Monday at least.

The AP class also got their first project: gather data on their own, one data set quantitative, the other categorical. No binary categorical data. Make the appropriate pictures. Evidence of the data must be turned in with pictures. They can ask anyone, but the data has to be legitimate (not made up), and they can’t throw out data they don’t like. Minimum 30 respondents, but the more the better.