Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inside Four Walls: A Glimmer?

So before the CSTs come I always give my students their first semester benchmark and final, just to see how much they have retained. My Algebra B class this year is really struggling. I have done more review, longer lessons, and re-teaching entire chapters this year than ever before. And I figure I will only have 5 of the 30 be proficient or advanced. To say it has been disappointing is an understatement.

Well this might be a glimmer of hope. I gave them the first semester benchmark, which covers factoring, graphing, exponents, and rational expressions. The average in the fall was a 62%. Nothing special to say the least. Every year I focus 3 of my 4 opening activity questions on factoring, graphing (writing equations of lines, slope, intercepts, anything with graphing), and systems of equations. So since November they have been doing one of those topics daily. I do it because those are 3 of the big topics on the CSTs and it is good daily review. I was hoping for some improvement, but to be honest I wasn't expecting too much.

The average the second time around was a 71%. Almost 10% gain! Are you kidding me? It helped me see there was some growth. It reassured me that the opening activities do work. I love the opening quizzes for this very reason. And in addition to seeing these topics daily, when other classes are re-teaching those topics, my classes don't need that.

I haven't been able to do something like this in Geometry or Algebra 2 yet. It's harder because of the amount of material I have to cover. I started weekly review quizzes this year in Geometry. I write about 6-7 questions from previous chapters once a week. I don't know if it will have any sort of effect, but I will find out next week when my Geometry classes take the 1st semester benchmark again.

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