Friday 27 June 2014

Graduation 2014

Today, the class of 2014 graduated. It was a nice ceremony that was clearly well planned as it ran seamlessly. I taught many of the students in this graduating class of 227 - I think I taught 139 of them. Many I taught twice or even three times. It is remarkable to have been there with them on their first day of grade 9, then be there with them on their very last day of high school. You would think that with 20 years in I would be used to commencement ceremonies, but I am usually at the Exeter math conference for the last week of June so I have actually attended very few graduations. Although not thrilled to have missed the conference this year, I was happy to have the opportunity to see this class graduate. These are special kids and I feel fortunate to have seen them grow up and to have helped them learn along the way. However I find goodbyes difficult (just ask @fawnpnguyen!) as I am such an emotional person. So today was tough for me. I'm an introvert so I'm not good with crowds of people, but I did find a few students that I needed to say congrats and goodbye to. I got asked by a few to have my picture taken with them (which, if you know me, is a big deal). Sadly though, I avoided going up to a few students because I knew I would start to cry. The last student I did talk to got the tears going so I had to disappear. So to all of those that I missed I say congratulations and I am so very proud of you. I will miss you and West will not be the same without you. I wish you all the best down the road...

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Day 85

Day 85

The school is quiet. The students have all left. It is the end of the last day of classes for the 2013-2014 school year. Traditionally, not many student show up for class on this day - it is "beach day" for the seniors. So I was a little surprised that among my 6 or 7 MFM2P students that were here today, was one who has missed a lot of school. And this student spent a good chunk of today at my desk working through math with me. Seriously working. Didn't go hang out with friends at lunch in order to finish the sheet we were working on. Beyond anything else today, I am immensely proud of this student. I got a lot of really lovely cards from grade 12 students today, which truly filled my heart, but my 2P kid who gave up half of the day to do math, that was the icing on the cake. This is why we are teachers.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Day 84

Day 84

Today was pretty quiet as they reassessed on those curriculum expectations where they had yet to meet expectations. I loved how some used manipulatives and graphing calculators and really tried their best. I am dismayed by those who did not...

On another note - here are a couple of good (and positive!) blog posts about MFM2P:
* from Alex Overwijk, a post about introducing factoring by talking about area and length & width.
* from Heather Theijsmeijer, a post about a student-created scavenger hunt across classes.

Monday 16 June 2014

Day 83

Day 83

Three more days of classes, then they have their math exam. I find this time of year can be so tough. Many students just don't seem to care. I think that's the big thing for me - I seem to care more than they do. And that stresses me out. I have no idea what to do differently to change their attitudes. So, if you any of you have suggestions, please let me know! Despite that, we did do some work today. Tomorrow they will have an opportunity to test on only those expectations where they are weak. However, I told them that they would all write the "Manipulate algebraic expressions, as needed to understand quadratic relations." portion. I only evaluated this expectation once, so I would like them all to get a second crack at it before the exam. 

We worked on expanding and simplifying binomials and talked about the relationship between the equation of a quadratic and its graph. It was rather like pulling teeth (see comment above), but we did get through it.

Then we factored a couple of binomials using algebra tiles. They seem to be pretty good at that.

I have not been counting down the days at all, but I think I just started to!

Friday 13 June 2014

Day 82

Day 82

With the summative over, today was the first day of "exam review". I did give them questions to work on, but also spoke to each student individually about their progress. They each got a printout showing their current level for each curriculum expectation. Those who still have not demonstrated sufficient understanding of one or more expectation (level 1 or lower) will have the opportunity to write a quiz next week. I plan on making these up - 9 of them - over the weekend as I feel it's important to give each student another chance to demonstrate their learning before the exam (exams can be overwhelming and may not show students' best work). It was good to hear students thanking me for giving them this opportunity and even asking if they could do the same for expectations where they are at a level 2. I said yes, of course!

I spent my prep today marking their summatives. They showed a lot of good stuff and I love how they really tried to do their best. At some point I will attempt to write how I think this board-wide summative could be improved. The writing teams meet over the summer so I know I need to do that soon!

Thursday 12 June 2014

Day 81

Day 81

Today was part 2 of the summative. Although I found this part more straightforward, my students weren't that happy about any of it. The group work today was more about doing some of the work as a group, then about coming up with strategies or brainstorming ideas. This was frustrating for some students who knew what they were doing and felt that some of their group members were simply copying their work. A number of students had issues with the need to estimate dimensions despite having done Estimation 180 all semester. I found this strange. I think that a lot of them have had summatives or other evaluations in many courses this week and are just at the end of their rope. Sadly, I think that many didn't put their best effort forward. There were a couple of students who stuck around into lunch to finish up and I am really proud of their efforts.

I have put part 1 and part 2 of the summatives for each student together, along with the rubric and alphabetized all of them. I guess I cannot procrastinate marking them any longer!

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Day 80

Day 80

Second day of the first part of the summative. I am really proud of the work they did today. Can't show you any of it though... (shortest blog post ever?)

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Day 79 - Day 1 of Summative

Day 79

I chose to make the groups for today's summative. They had 30 minutes to work in groups and brainstorm questions relating to pictures shown. They also had to categorize their questions by curriculum expectation. Then we shared. I put the questions from each group under the document camera and we quickly discussed which questions were good and which might not fit the curriculum. The class did a really good job of coming up with questions that related to the pictures and fit with the curriculum.

Next came the individual work. They were given the same pictures with a limited amount of new information to work with and had to answer the questions they had come up with in groups. Many students found this part frustrating as, in some cases, they felt they weren't given enough information. They will work on it more tomorrow.

Monday 9 June 2014

Day 78

Day 78

Today we went over more problems to prepare for the summative. We finished up question 3 from Friday and then worked on questions 4 and 6. We did not have time for question 5 today.

For the pool question, we talked about different approached - estimating that half the pool had a depth of 4' and the other half a depth of 10'. We looked at breaking it up into a rectangular prism and a triangular prism.

Right now I am really hoping that they all show up tomorrow. And bring a pencil with them!

Friday 6 June 2014

Day 77

Day 77

Today we worked on the questions I came up with. Well, some of them. I made 6 questions and copied them for students to glue in their comp books, but we only got through 2 and a bit today. It is increasingly difficult to get students to focus and work these days... So here are the questions we looked at, along with my solutions:

We actually made a table of values for each carnival first, then graphed. Here is mine using Desmos - note the pretty new axis labels : )

After graphing we solved algebraically then answered the question.

I was surprised by how many people were still unsure of the vocabulary surrounding a parabola. Must work on that again next week...

We got through 3a) but that was it for today. The good news is that I am ready for Monday!

Thursday 5 June 2014

Day 76 - Reflecting on Summative Prep

Day 76

After yesterday's class I decided that they (and I) needed a bit of a break today. We spent the class going over tests and talking about the upcoming summative and exam. There is a high stress vibe going on in the school at the moment and I think we all benefited from a day without as much pressure to get through a task. 

I have also been reflecting about the summative prep work and think I will change some things next time around. Firstly, I need to take another look at the pictures we used and figure out which ones need replacing. Some of the curriculum expectations are not coming out of the current pictures so I would like to fix that. Secondly, I think that 6 stations are too many. The process takes a long time, and although I believe that it is valuable, my students have difficulty sustaining interest for as long as this has taken us so far. I think that if I spend time adjusting the pictures well, each group could do 3 stations and still be able to hit all the curriculum expectations. This would still give them the experience we are looking for, but would compress it significantly. Thirdly, I need to do more of this type of work during the semester as many of their questions are either not matching our curriculum or not rich enough to work with. Fourthly, I also might change the number of students in a group. I did random groups of four this time and found that some students did a lot of work, while others did not (and those doing a lot of work were getting frustrated). There was one group of two (because the other two group members were absent), and they both worked really well, making me wonder if working in pairs would be a better plan. Lastly (and this may change if I do all the above differently), I am going to give them all the same set of questions to work through tomorrow and Friday, instead of the questions they came up with. I know that answering their own 18 questions will be very repetitive for some - there are many of the same type of question and some of the curriculum isn't addressed at all. So, realizing that I am defeating the true purpose of this task, I am going to print up 10-ish questions that they will all answer in their comp books. That's my new plan. I guess I better get working on that now!

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Day 75

Day 75

They finished choosing (creating) their best three questions for each station today. It was a bit of a gong show. Some did not seem to understand that writing "How high is the bridge?" when there are 4 pictures of bridges, was insufficient for me to provide them the information needed to answer the question. Also, many had questions that did not actually relate to the MFM2P curriculum (sigh). And some had questions like "How high is the bridge?" and where they listed was information they needed to know to answer the question, they wrote "Height of the bridge." Not a brilliant day. I went through all their best 3 questions this afternoon and modified as needed. I gave new questions where needed (which really defeats the purpose of what we have done so far). Now I have to get all the information they need prepared for them to answer the questions. 

Unrelated, I finally got around to taking pictures of some of the Sum-of-Squares/Similar Triangles/Trigonometry poster projects my class did a while back.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Day 74

Day 74

We picked up where we left off yesterday - sorting questions by curriculum expectation. They had 3 stations left to work on today. Once those were complete they started the process of choosing the best 3 questions for each station along with determining what information they would need from me in order to answer each of them. This took significantly longer than I expected. Some groups realized that they didn't have enough good questions (or any!) and had to come up with more. They were receptive to guidance in this process - they realized that they were stuck and needed help. I am certain that this process will pay off next week when they write the actual summative.  As we didn't finish this round, they will do more tomorrow. And I will add information to the pictures so that they can answer all 18 of their questions.

And here is a pic from my board. Bet you didn't know I go by "B-Dawg"! (neither did I!) I less than three this class.

Monday 2 June 2014

Day 73 - Summative Prep Begins

Day 73

This week is all about summative preparation. In our board (district) all grade 10 academic and applied students write a board-wide summative task and a board-wide exam. Next week my students will be doing their summative, which focuses on the mathematical process expectations (similar to SMP in the US). Alex Overwijk created this summative prep and blogged about it here. We tweaked it a bit at our last meeting, but the credit definitely goes to him.

Students walked in to find their names in groups (chosen randomly) on the board and papers awaiting them at the tables. Each group had a set of pictures, an envelope along with the names of the members of the group and their "home station". Here are the pictures with which they worked:

I explained to them that everything was colour coded. Each group would be working on a particular colour of paper and with one marker. Their first job today was to come up with as many questions as they could for each station. They started at their home station, placed their questions in the envelope when they finished then moved on to the next station. They weren't all completely on-board with this process. This was also the first time that many students complained about the groups. I can't even say how many times I said "Please put your phone away" today. I even confiscated two phones, which rarely happens. With a little encouragement from me, most wrote down some decent questions. I need to think about how I can get better questions out of them if (when) I do this again. I am sure that if more than 5 of them had been in class on the day we did the tree activity, it would have helped.

This process continued until they had all been to every station. Here are the questions they came up with:

Next, they had to classify the questions at their home station by curriculum expectation (each group again got the same colour of paper). Some questions were not mathematical in nature, so could be ignored. Some questions were repeated by all groups. Some of the curriculum was not represented by any questions so they could look at the pictures again to see if they could find any questions that would fit. When they finished at their home station they put all the questions back in the envelope and moved on to the next station. They got through 3 stations today. To be continued tomorrow...