Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Structure and Restructuring

In case you haven't noticed from the name of my blog or interacting with me in person, I am extremely oriented towards structure. Give me something to organize, color-code, or sort and I'm your girl. Every year as the beginning of school approaches I re-orient myself and take considerable time to think about how I structure the time in my classes. I think that having routine really helps my students know what to expect and I've seen that we are all a lot happier when we are on the same page.

On of the challenges for me this year is going back to an alternating (A/B day) block schedule. If you are unfamiliar with this then it is seeing half of 6 classes every other day for 90 minutes. I did my student teaching on this schedule so already know some of the pitfalls (lots of time between lessons) and what that means I need to change. Here is my current thinking on "structuring" my 90 minutes.

One of the shifts I need to make with my new schedule is the "Warmup" or "Math Maintenance". I love Math Maintenance (MM) (check out iisanumer for a description). I've used it successfully the past two years. I had the pleasure of rooming with her this year at #TMC16 and we talked about recent research on block scheduling and students being most focused during the first and last 30 minutes of class. At her school they are going to be keeping Math Maintenance but moving it to the middle. This works great because it is essentially spiraled review, and I do actually need to start with something related to what we did the class period before since it will have been a *minimum* of 48 hours before...

So I'm going to have students answer one or two clicker questions to review the prior lesson. 

I'm still not 100% decided whether I'm going to do the new lesson during the first 30 or practice from the class before. But either way these are just broad categories for introducing and summarizing a topic and then practice (usually whiteboards) on the topic. 

The middle 30 minutes is where we will focus on honing prior skills and answer any lingering questions on HW. I am going to try and do a combination of Julia's circling red incomplete questions and Nate's folder HW collection and see if that works. ALL students must turn in the assignment even if it is blank. They keep their HW in the front pocket of their INB. I'm hoping that checking this daily will help me spot problems for the class and as a whole more clearly. 

I also am considering treating MM more like an open notebook

None of this is rigidly fixed but rather just denotes the flow of the class and gives me and the students a framework to work in. 

I think I've decided to keep doing my HW packets by "week" but instead number them by Days (Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) not MTWTF since I won't see the same preps on the same day. Homework will be checked everyday in class but scored/collected every other week on test days. (I had been testing every Friday so I think I will keep to every 5 periods).

I know this is probably a random post, but I thought it might provide some food for thought since it seems many of us yet again are asking "what about HW?"

1 comment:

  1. I really like your idea of thinking of days in a rotation rather than of a week because of the block schedule not meeting daily. I have something similar in my own schedule and it helps me keep organized.

    I'm my case, I see my kids five days out of a seven day rotation. So when scheduling quizzes and such, I think about which meeting of the rotation I want the quiz on. For some classes, there could be a two day gap between when the first class takes the quiz and when the second does.