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Day 114: Getting Comfy

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Day 114/180(?): starting over with SBG

No, I can’t fit all 180 days in before school starts again!

During an interview, I asked a principal what he/she thought about SBG. His/her response was unfavorable, including that kids would have to figure out the system for each class and teacher. I thought it strange, since kids already do that.

I was chugging along with SBG, following what a middle-school colleague had done, when I realized that I didn’t like that version. I needed something else.

So, thanks to some Tweeps I’ve been stalking for a while really neat and well-connected people (I’m looking at you, @jmbalaya!), I contacted Ramsey Musallam, and we chatted on the phone for a good half hour (in between his summer school robot building fun). I’m gonna give his SBG system a shot, and see what happens. It makes far more sense to me than the other version (at least, for my grade-level and subject). And I’d hate for the kids to be a part (again) of a class where the teacher isn’t comfy with the grading system.


Day 113 (and beyond): Doing It Again for the First Time

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Day 113+more / 180: signing a new contract and thinking of next year(s)

I signed the contract for my new school and got a non-sub-ID!

I’ve been working on and off on my new SBG curriculum. While I’m set on trying SBG, I’m now realizing how much I have to do and change from the stuff I already have. And what do I do with lab notebooks on the scale?

And this (start of an) exchange with @rawrdimus:

So how do I get students to use the notebooks after they’ve finished particular labs?

So what it comes down to is… I’m feeling like a first-year teacher. Super insecure. I’ve got the job, and now I have to deliver all that I promised. I haven’t been in a normal classroom — my classroom — for eight years. I have scrounged a basic schedule from the school I worked at last fall, and I have all of my old worksheets (which need to be updated for my new SBG thing). I have tons of resources from other people, but need to make everything my own.

Day 111: Solo Work

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Day 111/180: working on more SBG stuff and twitching

I have problems concentrating when I’m on my own, and yet, I usually get more done when alone. I twitch (being preoccupied with something and trying to not be preoccupied). Argh. 

Anyway. I’m hacking through the “I can…” statements. There are a lot of basic recall things, especially in the history sections! I need to change that up. I should also take a history of science course. 

I know there will be a lot of procedural/calculation requirements in upcoming sections, and I know I’ll need to change that up too. 

Day 107: More SBG Work

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Day 107: More SBG work: making it digital

I work better on paper than on computer, possibly because I don’t get into as many online games. At any rate, I’ve translated my digital notes into Evernote, so I can work on it while I’m away from my home computer.

I’m having my annual self-argument about the order of subjects (start with measurement or atomic theory and nuclear stuff). The first way tends to weed-out kids who aren’t that serious about taking chemistry (strangely, because they don’t want so much math). This makes it better as a teacher, as most of the kids who hack it will probably manage to hack the rest of the course. There is a weird transition somewhere along the line, where numbers and sig figs aren’t used for a few weeks while atomic theory is introduced, and a lot of kids forget all rules for precision and numbers. The second way tends to keep a lot of kids in the beginning, but the course may be more than what they bargained for later. After getting the non-number-based stuff out of the way, the rest of the course needs digits and precision, so the math piece is introduced later and used consistently to the end. To me, it’s a much smoother way to do the whole course. And I hate weed-out things.

And at the same time, I don’t want kids who shouldn’t be in the course… be in the course. It’s hard on them and hard on me. And maybe they’d be ready for chemistry at a different time, so maybe a weed-out is kinda diagnostic. And either way, I feel like a big meany, either for having put kids through an ordeal, or not having given them a chance to show me wrong.

Because of my previous schools, I’ve done all kinds of ways to order chemistry, even starting in the middle. I’ve even done a bunch of versions concurrently. Ultimately, it needs to be what’s best for the kids, not me.

I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow.

Day 106: More SBG Work

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Day 106/180: More SBG work, starting standards/goals for various topics

Pouring rain and some hail make for a good day indoors.

With last time’s list of topics, I started filling in the sub-topics. Perhaps I should re-do this: create a comprehensive list of skills/ideas/standards I want students to have, then divide them into topics/units. I think it might reduce the number of units for the year (rather than basically following chapter headings), and allow me to mix and match things more fluidly.

I wonder how this would change if I had a textbook to work with. I don’t really use a textbook in class anyway, but it’s confusing to students if I say, “You’ve been sick! We’re working on parts of Chapter 5, only a few pages of Chapter 12, and the first half of Chapter 13 right now. Yes, they’re totally related.”

I think I’m getting the hang of making the standards. It’s pretty indicative of the kind of teaching I’ve been doing (i.e., computing lots of numbers). I need to add more things to clarify understanding of concepts, which should help for students continuing in AP.

I need to add laboratory components. What are the lab skills I want students to have? I think many of these will come in a “measurement” unit at the beginning of the year, but what other skills do I want later-part-of-the-year students to learn in lab (or is it mostly about what kids can get from lab results at that point)?

Oooh… this is thereputic. I wish I’d given this a serious start earlier.

Day 104: Starting an SBG Curriculum

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Day 104/180: Starting to work through SBG, and feeling unsure

Part of this year’s sabbatical goals were to create an SBG curriculum so that I could possibly implement it into my shiny new next-year-job. So far, I’ve just made a list of chemistry topics for the year. I’m not yet sure if it’s better to be more or less specific as far as content goes, so I’m erring on the more side. I’ll also need to figure out how to combine these into larger units (i.e., fewer unit, non-chapter, tests), as well as the non-curriculum-specific skills I want students to have.

I’m working off of TEACHING|CHEMISTRY and Always Formative and Crazy Teaching for SBG information.

The curriculum works in my head, but it’s been a while since I’ve actually written out plans. My previous school was more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of place, since each student was on his/her own schedule. I had a list of topics to cover by the end of the year, but the pace, and even the order changed for each kid. I feel like a first-year teacher again.

Additionally, I’m sad that #chemchat is a kinda lonely place. Apparently, there used to be a weekly Twitter chat there, but hasn’t been around for a while other than a tag for random classroom experiments and thoughts. I don’t really have time to do a weekly chat (especially on the West Coast), but I’m working on maybe a thing… maybe a #slowchemchat thing…

Day 76: POTUS and Marzano

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Day 76/180: Odds and ends, but lots of edu-thinking

As I tried to convince myself to not binge-watch TV and knit, I instead turned to YouTube to catch up on Hank and John Green. I really appreciate their honesty and dedication to better society with nerdfighteria and Project for Awesome, among other things. Friday’s video from Hank talked about education, and while the title of “Is School Broken?” is pretty provocative, he also doesn’t really give his opinion on the matter. He does, however, mention that he (and a couple other people I’m not familiar with) will be talking with President Obama on Thursday, and to tag any questions with #YouTubeAsksObama for him to get some ideas. I kinda went nuts, and Hank will probably stop reading before getting through all 23 things I tweeted, but there’s my morning.

And then… text time. I’m finally reading “Classroom Assessment & Grading that Work” by Marzano. I’ve bookmarked and skimmed and/or read a lot of webpages and blogs, but I’ve needed to start at the beginning to create an SBG-based curriculum. Not super-riveting, and I’ll admit to skipping a lot of the justification-stuff at the beginning (I already agree!), but this needs to happen. If nothing else, I’ll get practice with actually writing a curriculum again.