I have to admit it. This year I feel terribly overwhelmed with all the changes that we are expected to make, I don't even know where to start. So when I feel like this I have to do a, "brain dump." I just take everything that is floating around in my head and dump it onto paper. Once I do that I feel like I can get an idea of where to start or at least do something from each category. So here I go.
1. My first priority is to make lessons that align to Common Core Standards. I began with my 8th grade Pre-Algebra classes last year but did not change anything with my Algebra. Second semester is when I started feeling good about the changes I made to the Pre-Algebra curriculum, but my 1st semester lessons are not put together the way I would like them to be. I can not go into the school year, less than one month away, without having the first units ready to go. I have bits and pieces but I'm not there yet. Twenty-four days til school begins. Yikes!
Algebra is another story. I have always used the Algebra book and then supplemented where needed. Now, not having a book to refer to is really a challenge for me. In Pre-Algebra, I haven't used the book in years, but the Algebra book has been great. Not any more! The curriculum is all over the place in the book as I am sure you all know. On the last day of school we were given the curriculum and told we could pull from the book or use Engage New York - Algebra and follow it day by day. I guess I am going to try Engage New York and fit it to the needs of my students. Looking at the first module is a challenge. I like to have a book to see how everything is laid out. This is so big that to print it all is ridiculous so reading it on the computer is what I am going to have to do. We will see how it works.
2. Standards based grading and Common Assessments- My district did provide training on SBG this summer. See my post on SBG here. I've been reading blogs and I did go through the training but I am still having a hard time with writing assessments for this.
3. Interactive Notebooks. I want to use Interactive Notebooks with not only my Pre-Algebra classes, but also my Algebra classes. This is going to be a lot to do considering curriculum changes this year.Why not do everything at once? I may do a modified INB scattered with more traditional notes. We'll see. Last year was my first year using INB's with my Pre-Algebra classes. I want to improve on what I started last year. See my post on Reflecting on my first year using Interactive Notebooks .
4. Kagan strategies - My building is going to receive training from a Kagan instructor, four times this year. (See Kagan strategies) I know just a little about these methods but am excited to learn more. I am going to pick up a book from our library on this and do some pre-reading before the training so I have a better idea what this looks like. I will be implementing these strategies in all my classes but as far as getting everything organized before school starts in this area is going to be difficult.
5. Group work- The layout of my classroom is going to be different this year. I have always had rows in my room as another teacher comes in for two periods a day. This will be a new teacher this year so I am going to have groups of four around the room. The newbie will think it has always been that way. Yeah! Kagan strategies are going to be used to help with the group work. I'd better get reading soon to get a head start for the year.
6. Technology and Geometer's Sketchpad - How do I add more technology to my classroom? I have a smartboard and am comfortable with that. I use graphing calculators once in awhile, they are 25 years old and I spend so much time fixing them. I plan on using Geometer's Sketchpad when we hit graphing in both Pre-Algebra and Algebra. Geometer's Sketchpad is going to be an amazing tool to use with transformations in Pre-Algebra. I can't wait to use it for that unit. If I can do that much this year with all the other changes I will be making I think that is a good start. (See my post on Geometer's Sketchpad .)
7. PARCC testing. This will be our first year using PARCC assessments. My students need exposure to lessons and assessments that will prepare them for the types of questions they will see.
8. Writing standards. In my INB's (Interactive Notebooks) I am going to have the students journal more. As part of my SBG I will have questions that are more like the extended response problems I have used in the past. These problems have the students writing out explanations and I will use our writing rubric to grade the students work.
9. Pre Tests. I don't always pre assess prior to starting a unit. As a department we have created pre assessments for the vocabulary for each of our units. It is a starting point in this process.
10. Differentiation. This is the hardest thing for me to do. Last year Pre-Algebra classes had students that were in the 1st through 76th percentile on the MAP test. This wide range made it so hard to differentiate. I am going to work hard to do better in this area. One of the ways I plan to do this is in the group work. I've never used stations in my class but I'm going to give it a try this year.
Wow, I knew there were changes this year but oh my goodness! I didn't think it was this much. No wonder I'm stressed. Thanks for reading my ramblings. I'll keep you posted on my progress attacking my new to do list.
Til next time,