Things that worked in my sixth grade math class in Term 3:
Using Edmodo, LearnZillion, ASSISTments.org, class set of iPads, Tiered Instruction Math Class, 3-D Club Printing and no "assigned" homework. First let me tell you that all these sites are the ones that do the work I need. They save me time, provide me with data, give my students support on many levels and so much more. I explore many web sites on a continuous basis always looking for the ones that will serve me and my student best. These are the ones I seem to stick with so I guess they are working. Secondly, my extra class for tiered instruction (extra hour of math each day) for struggling learners has proven to be very successful. Out of 24 students, 20 of them have brought their grade up from failing to at least a C-. These students all still struggle but the extra learning time has proven to increase their confidence and commitment to the struggle. My 3-D club has launched at least five 3-D printer student experts and now many more are interested. This group of students taught themselves 123Design software and successfully printed 3-D models during their own time after school. Lastly, my no "assigned" homework policy was quietly instituted. It took 4 weeks before anyone asked why there was no homework. I decided on this policy because so many were not doing the homework and so I was repeating each day. With this new approach, I start practice work in class and what is not finished is continued the next day. I would set the goals for the end of the week and any class work not completed by end of class Thursday became homework all due on Friday. In a nutshell, the work was set for the week and could be completed in class all week or done for homework if not completed. This motivated many to work hard during class. I found the students that never did homework or were struggling received more assistance and teaching time from me in small group. The students that were high achievers continue to achieve and like completing class work and getting to the challenge work. Much to my surprise, this no "assigned" homework plan was a win-win for everyone.
Things that didn't work in Term 3:
Finding time to give to my high achievers. I complete and exceed each and every challenge. It is only a small group of students (5-6 per class) but still, I need to meet every one's needs. These students are hungry for learning. In term 4, (after state testing) I will allow these students to explore MEA to challenge their problem solving skills. I also plan to have the last 10 minutes of each class scheduled for their questions so they can plan for this.
There is also this small group of students I have been unable to reach. These are the students that make teachers feel sad at the end of the school year. I have tried every resource and tool within my power at every level to help these students without success. For most of these students the problems are beyond learning and the classroom, things that I can't control. I worry about a child that fails at least 50 percent of the content area for the year. Their future academic success does not look hopeful. Sixth grade is the the first step to secondary school so failing at this level sets the path of failure towards future grades. One good note, my district has approved summer school for these failing students.
Term 4 post state testing is a fun time. This year my team has two STEM projects planned for our 100 students. Check back for my reflection of term 4 in June.
One last note, I am very excited to have been selected for the 2nd year in a row to the LearnZillion Dream Team 2014! With out a doubt, my 2013 experience was the best professional development of my career! Looking forward to my 2014 work!!