Thursday, October 17, 2013

I don't know this...yet!

I've written before about my experiences with Standards Based Grading and why it feels so right. See "Show me what you can do" and "I can show you more than that".

Yesterday I gave a quiz on measurement and data. During the quiz, I noticed a few students really seemed to be struggling with some questions (evidence: prolonged periods of time spent staring at a blank spot on their paper).

So interrupted the class with the following announcement:
Remember, one of the great things about this SBG grading system is that you can always turn in more evidence later. So if you don't know how to do something yet, it really is okay to just write "I don't know yet." We'll keep working on it, and then you can turn in stronger evidence when you're ready." 
The release from the students was immediate. Tense shoulders relaxed. One student said out loud how much better that made her feel. It was a memorable moment.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How Math Saved Bedtime

(This post was inspired by @Trianglemancsd's blog Talking Math with Kids.)

The bedtime routine at our house begins at 7:30. We have a chart showing the steps: take a vitamin, go potty, brush teeth, put PJs on, read three books, go to sleep. Lately, the middle three steps have evolved into a serious power struggle with my four year old. He whines, complains, drags his feet, says he's too tired... and the resulting cajoling amounts to leading a horse to water and finding that it stubbornly will not take a drink.

After a particularly frustrating night, I happened to notice the potty / brush his teeth / change into PJs sequence had taken 24 minutes. This gave me an idea. I went downstairs and found a piece of black construction paper and a white crayon. I quickly constructed the axes for a simple bar chart, extending the vertical scale up to an optimistic 25 minutes, and sketched the horizontal scale that would hold the days of the week.