Monthly Archives: April 2014

Review: Systems of Equations

I’ve been reviewing with my students since we came back from spring break (almost a month now).  Last week we covered linear equations which had a ton of hurdles, so this confirmed what the Geometry teacher told me I should work on after our End of Course tests in a few weeks.  

Best surprise of the week: Systems of equations was a BEAUTIFUL DAY of review.  I’d gone into the day dreading it – hoping to drag students through problems.  Instead, first period I asked questions and gave students a place to try problems (problems set up for elimination or graphing) and see what happened.  What happened was amazing.  I don’t know what or how, but students KNEW how to solve systems.  AMEN.  HALLELUJAH.  I told one class that I was incredibly proud of them – and I still am 🙂  

Down side: We struggle(d) with applying our amazing skills (For example: How many hours do to people work to make the same amount of money if they are paid differently?).  I’m focusing on the application in what we review for the next week which should help a little.  

Also, students always want to do what we just finished working on together – Finish working on matricies and then I gave a problem practicing systems.  At least 3 students a class asked how to make a matrix…..which is more evidence that students aren’t truly understanding what questions are asking. 

**This whole post is just more evidence I need to be a much more consistent blogger/record creator. I’m not certain I know how I taught systems this fall so I’m not sure how I can replicate this success next year….you live and you learn.

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PARCC PBA: The Field Test

Today began a six week period of testing at my school – and we kicked it off with the future in mind.  My students took the PARCC PBA Field Test and I have a ton of thoughts floating in my head, but here’s the gist.

+ Technology makes the test hard – I felt like I was testing student endurance dealing with the computer than their math.  I saw some students shut down and give up.

+ There is no way we can test like we have in the past – an entire cohort or state at one time.  My school (7-12 with 120 in a grade) doesn’t have the space to create designated testing rooms to use for all our students – we had 80 students testing at once and that is probably the upper limit.  I don’t enjoy thinking about the schedule we’ll craft for next year (someone may have mentioned my name in that conversation – hahaha).  I also don’t like considering how much instructional time may be lost for these tests.

+ I spent 40 minutes of a 55 minute session on the phone with truly wonderful and patient people trouble shooting an issue. It made it difficult to do the other job I had – administer a secure test.  Thankfully I had a proctor in the room to assist.

Even though my school, district, PARCC and Pearson have a long way to go I’m still optimistic for where we are going.  I still believe in PARCC assessments.  Students need a curriculum engaged with technology and a test to reflect that and PARCC does that.  I know we’ll find a way to make technology smooth.  We’ll sort out schedules – that’s just a giant puzzle 🙂

In other, related news, I created a survey for field tested students about how they think we should change our instruction.  I’m excited to share this with my colleagues and have data to talk about our conversation.  After we get all the data (over the next months) I’ll examine it, share with my school to see what students think we should do in our classrooms.