Category Archives: Blooms

MTBOS week 1: My class is different due to no F’s!

I’m a week behind, but this is my first post for the Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere challenge.  We were given two options and I chose to blog on the following:

  • What is one thing that happens in your classroom that makes it distinctly yours? It can be something you do that is unique in your school… It can be something more amorphous… However you want to interpret the question! Whatever!

My classroom is distinctly different this year than my previous years of teaching.  The difference?  No one is currently failing in any of my classes and no one has earned an F on a test!  I know?! Shut up & get out (picture Elaine from Seinfeld)!!

For most math teachers, this is quite a unique experience, and it is for me. I didn’t all of a sudden become some amazing teacher in which every single thing I do works and students totally “get it”.  I don’t have students that are heads and shoulders above students in past years.  I will say 4 of my classes are honors sections, but I’ve had students fail honors tests and classes, so that doesn’t tell the whole story.  Besides, I also teach the lowest math class in our high school.

I believe the reason for this no F’s is mainly from a new policy I’ve enacted around my Standards Based Grading Quizzes.  This year, students can only take their unit test once they have passed all skills for the unit.  In the past, students were encouraged and given the option to retake quizzes to have their grades reflect an increase in learning.  They could do this anytime in the semester.  Typically it happened in the last couple of weeks of the semester as they realized there was no extra credit and they were scrambling to raise their grades.  This was helpful for their final exam, but didn’t help them on the unit tests along the way.

Here is my semester grade breakdown:

40% SBG quizzes (unlimited retakes – must have all passing grades before taking the unit test)
30% Unit Tests (these are summative & can’t be retaken)
15% Semester Exam
10% Assignments (I don’t collect or check daily work – this is unit binders, occasional special assignments, end of unit journals, etc.)
5% WriteNOW! (school wide writing initiative)

Now that students must get passing grades on all quiz skills before the test, they do better on the test.  I’m not sure why I didn’t figure this out before – ha!

Another thing I’m doing this year, which I also believe accounts for no F’s, is tests start at a 50.  That is still 20 points away from passing.  Then I break the other 50 points down very specifically, based on Blooms.  For my honors classes, 25 points are Knowledge & Understanding, 10-15 points are Application & Analyzing, and 10-15 points are Synthesizing & Evaluating. For my on-level classes, 30 points are Knowledge & Understanding, 10 points are Application & Analyzing, and 10 points are Synthesizing & Evaluating.  They must know everything at a basic level to earn a C, at an intermediate level to earn a B, and at an advanced level to earn an A.  This year, it’s easier to earn a C on my tests (due to starting at a 50), but more challenging to earn an A.

The final difference this year is my classes are somewhat self-paced.  I go at a “typical” pace.  Have assignments at a “typical” pace.  Have quizzes & tests at a “typical” pace.  However, if students don’t feel ready to take a quiz, they can delay.  If they don’t feel ready to take the test, they can delay.  There is a time limit.  They have a one week extension.  This is why I say somewhat self-paced. As I teach 9th & 10th graders, I think they need those deadlines so they don’t save it all for the end of the semester. Plus, in work situations, we have deadlines, but are allowed to work at our own pace to get to that deadline.  So, they have some freedom & flexibility, but aren’t allowed to completely sabotage themselves.

Now, I know that even if I was doing this last year, I would have still had a couple of failures.  I had two students who did retake quizzes often and just kept failing over and over.  They needed a lower math class and were in the lowest we offered. However, if students are appropriately placed and spec. ed students getting the appropriate resources, I believe these policies will encourage learning at a higher level.  This will then result in grades that reflect that higher level learning.


SBG for 2013-2014

As I mentioned in an earlier post, SBG in my classroom continues to evolve. I’ve been working on this year’s iteration and think I have it completed.  My main changes:

  • Students are required to reassess on any skill that is lower than a 70 before they are allowed to take the unit test.
  • I will be checking to make sure students have done additional learning before taking a reassessment – this avoids wasting their and my time.
  • I associated Bloom’s Levels (original) to the rubric.

Here is my new letter to parents and rubric.  Would love any feedback.

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Grading, Assessments, and Bloom’s

I know I’m supposed to do the obligatory “this is my first post, yada, yada” but that stuff is in my About page if anyone is interested.

For the last couple of years, I’ve done both the flipped classroom and SBG quizzes (still have summative tests). I don’t flip every lesson, but I like the time it frees up in the classroom and students not having long homework problem sets.

Based on reading and conferences, I want to also do self-paced and mastery learning.  I like a lot of how Graham Johnson (@math_johnson) sets up his courses and this document definitely impacted me.

Here are my thoughts for 2013-2014:

1. No grades on assignments/practice.  I used to grade for completion. Kids would just make stuff up to have it “done”.

2. Students will have a complete by date for each unit.  We will go through as a class at a typical rate, but faster & slower students can have a different pace if needed.

3. For any skill on an SBG quiz under 70, a student must retake until they get at least a 70 on all skills for that unit before they can take the Unit Test.  This helps with the issue of “I allow students to do retakes, but the ones who need it most never do it.”   I’m thinking for my Honors classes, I may move that to 75 or 80.  If Honors student regularly get below 80, then I tend to think they are in the wrong class.

4. The tricky part and where I have the most questions.  I’ve been wanting to tie everything to Bloom’s (thinking of the original taxonomy).  Originally my thought was C = Knowledge & Comprehension, B = Apply & Analyze, A = Synthesize & Create.  For example, when we do practice out of the textbook, students would be told which are A, B, & C problems and to do enough of each to make sure they understand the material at the corresponding level. Then, on SBG quizzes and Unit tests, there would also be A, B, & C type problems.  (I already do 3 levels of problems on my SBG quizzes). So, if you can do basic recall and calculation, you earn a C.  If you can apply to more challenging situations & analyze, you earn a B. If you can synthesize and create, you earn an A. I think this also differentiates instruction and assessment for various learners, but maybe I’m wrong or missing something.

  • a. Tests for on-level classes would start at a 50 (no one can get below that) & there would be about 25 points of C problems, 10-15 points of B problems, 10-15 points of A problems.  (side note: Our school doesn’t have D’s, 70 and above is passing.)  Not sure if I would start honors classes at 50, or just make the C level problems worth massive points each so they have to earn every point.
  • b. When I read Bloom’s, it seems like much of what we do in our classes have the nouns & verbs of Apply & Analyze.  For math, I think that Comprehension could be the basic calculations with very few steps. So, C level would be recall of formulas, definitions, matching, and basic calculations.  However, I recognize I might be stretching it to try and make it fit what I want.
  • c.  Where does graphing fit? It seems like even basic graphing might be at the B level. Or, could plotting a graph with points be Comprehension (C level), then analysis of that graph would be B? Being given a graph and creating a story for it or analyzing what it could describe – A or B level?
  • d. Should I just stick with C = recall of formulas, definitions, matching, and basic calculations, B = calculations with more steps, simple application problems, A = advanced application problems?  Those were my initial thoughts, but wasn’t sure that lined up to Bloom’s properly.
  • e. Does anyone have a Bloom’s list of nouns/verbs that is math specific? I searched google and found little.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! I really am looking for feedback and would appreciate the thoughts of others. 🙂