Monday, June 6, 2016

Finally Summer - Back to Blogging and Tackling Homework Issues

I did a pretty good job of blogging this past school year, until I hit February.  It was at about that time that I became completely overwhelmed with everything and just couldn't.  I either didn't have the spare time or when I did find some extra time, I didn't have the energy.  So here it is June and the kids are out of the summer and now I need to get back to reflecting and start planning for next year.

I really wanted to attend some kind of summer math conference this year, but with the way my summer is looking I just don't think it is going to happen.  I have two graduating seniors this year and everything that that entails is driving my crazy life right now.  Graduation is Thursday at 2:00, immediately after the ceremony we hit the road for Arkansas to attend twin 1's new student conference and registration at John Brown University.  We will spend two days there, Friday and Saturday, head home Sunday only to turn around Monday night and head to twin 2's new student conference at Texas A&M on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We will head home Wednesday night and I return to curriculum writing for my district that I started Monday and will continue for two weeks.  As soon as that is over I will head to Indianapolis for twin 1's National volleyball tournament for a week.  Finally in July things will slow down a bit, aside from all the college prep I will be doing with the girls.  I can already tell the summer will fly by and it will be time to head back to school for the fall. Okay, deep breath.  I have to keep telling myself I can do this.

Here are my two girls on their last day as seniors.

Back to teaching and school related things...


Always a struggle for me.  I know the value of practice but getting the kids who really need the practice to turn in homework has always been a struggle.  As I looked over my gradebook at the end of this year and the accumulation of zeros for some of my students I really felt discouraged.  I don't want to be that teacher that fails a student simply because they can't seem to get their homework turned in.  This year I did homework stamp sheets where students received a stamp for completing their homework, then did a reflection on the learning for that unit before turning in the stamp sheet on test day for a grade.  This was great for the conscientious student who always does their homework when it's assigned, but it was a failure for the students who are procrastinators or simply cannot finish what they start.  My rule was that if they did not get some items stamped before test day they could simply staple all of the missing assignments onto the stamp sheet for credit.  On each test day I would get quite a few packets of work from my procrastinators and as I looked through their work it was pathetic.  It got to the point that I think they just scribbled something down to get their "completed" stamp which was such a waste of time for them and for me and this in now way prepared them for the assessments over the material.

I want my practice work to be meaningful, not just something that students check off that they have done without regard to quality.  Also, because I post solutions so that students can check their own work, I am sure a few of those beautiful homework assignments were just copied straight from my worked out answers, and it was obvious who was doing this when test results came in.

I want my grading practices to be a true reflection of what my students have learned, not how well they can comply and follow directions.  I don't want to find myself in a situation at the end of the year with a student who has demonstrated mastery of content but is simply failing because he hasn't turned in his homework stamp sheets.

I want to raise the bar of learning in my classes and make sure all students are accountable for learning the content.  I want to develop a system to meet the needs of those kids who do not learn the content the first time around.

So as I begin this summer I have a lot to consider and think through as I plan for next year.  I would love your input as I wrestle with what I want and how to make it happen effectively in my classroom.