Sunday, January 2, 2011

Adjustments for 2nd Semester

Welcome Back!

Now that you’ve had a semester to get used to this class (and for the freshmen, to get used to AHS), we’ll be making some adjustments. The basic structure of the class from first semester will remain the same (so read back through the course expectations), but we’ll tweak a few things.

We’ll still have openers, but I will no longer rely on only volunteers to come up and work them on the board. Each and every one of you needs to participate fully in class, and each and every one of you needs to understand the skills we work on in the openers. So I’ll be calling on everyone second semester. You’ll want to make sure you finish any lessons I ask you to finish for homework, watch the homework videos, work hard individually on the openers, and then have good discussions with your group about the openers so that if you do get called on, you are completely confident and comfortable to come to the board, work it out, and explain it to the class.

Homework Videos
We’ll still have the homework videos and I’ll still expect you to watch them (without looking over your shoulder by doing “homework checks”). But since our openers often include problems that require you to have watched the videos and completed the guided practice and self-check problems, and since all of you will be up at the board explaining those openers, I’m hopeful this will encourage you to stay on top of watching those videos. We are all responsible for helping each other learn in this class, so I need you to step up and take on more of the responsibility for doing that.

We’ll still have short, focused assessments over specific skills. And you’ll still have the opportunity to re-assess once per day for up to five school days (so a total of five possible re-assessments), but we’ll be changing two things.

First, I’m going to enforce signing up online for re-assessments. While many of you did this first semester, others relied on just dropping in (particularly first period on Tuesday). I really need you to sign up online so that I can make sure to be there (or let you know I can’t be there) when you want to re-assess, and so that I know you have actually done some work ahead of time to prepare before coming in to re-assess.

Second, if you score a 2.5 or a 3 on the original assessment (given in class) it will not get put in the gradebook. Instead, the assessment will show as missing (with your score noted in the comments) until you come in at least once and re-assess. If you should still get a 2.5 or a 3 on a re-assessment, then that will go in the gradebook, but you’ll need to at least make the effort to improve your score (and your understanding). (And, remember, you can re-assess up to five times, no matter what your original score – until you get a 5, I expect you to continue re-assessing). The reasoning behind this is that a 2.5 or a 3 shows that you still have some major gaps in your understanding that we need to address, yet too often during first semester folks did not come in.

I’m confident that these changes will help you be even more successful second semester and prepare you well for the classes to come at AHS (and beyond). What adjustments are you going to make to help you learn better second semester?

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