So I decided to write/think about the biggest change from my teaching from last year, and that’s my Participation Points scheme. So far I would say that it is going really, really well! The students are buying in to the whole “choice” idea and they are doing this above and beyond the scope of my classroom, which is one of the purposes of this setup. One drawback, however, is those students who did nothing all week (because it was the first full week of school), and so now they have a 0, which they are going to have to work hard to raise that grade. If they didn’t work in the first week anyways, it will be unlikely/difficult for them to raise that, but perhaps the big fat 0 will be a motivator and not a hammer to their self-confidence… always a tricky balance.
So I looked at my class averages for this first week, just averaging in those students who turned in their Participation Points grid (where they keep track of and tally up their points). Remember, these are class averages: 104, 103.75, 77, 74. So I have two classes where students are getting into the system and doing work outside of class, and two classes with some of the students getting into it and some of them still waiting for the year to start.
A few nice things that worked out: I saved a bunch of the students by creating a “busy work” assignment and offering points for it (which I hate the busy work, but some of the students just want/need that kind of work). They were also saved by the fact that I offered Choice Cards (cards which are handed out if a student is present and has done their HW all week) during the first half-week and this week, then they had 60 points, if they needed it, to bail them out. However, starting next week, I’m going to show them how to access the forum on my website and how to e-mail me to get very easy Participation Points, simply by spending a bit of time outside of class on their own initiative.
A few students really went above and beyond and brought in some cool physical examples of “what molecules look like in the three states of matter”, which I’ll be able to use in future classes.
Oh, in case you wanted to know, my website is mrnewmanswebsite.weebly.com, and I use Weebly as a website design program. The interface is super-easy to use, and it is easy to attach documents, keep up HW (I use it in conjunction with Google Calendar), and keep student blogs and forums running so that students can interact with each other digitally and discuss topics we’ve covered in class.
So if you have any ideas for helping me figure out what to do with the 0’s from the first week, let me know. I probably have over a dozen once I include those students who didn’t even turn in their tally sheet. I don’t want “turning it in late” to become a habit all year, but I do want students to feel like they have a chance in my class. Hopefully students will realize that if they get the maximum 110 points every week for the rest of the 9 weeks, their average will be close to a 100 in this category for this 9 weeks. I also have something to call home about and discuss with parents what I expect from my students and raise the bar this early in the year.