Monthly Archives: April 2014

Rick Wormeli SBG Conference

I just got back from a 2-day conference in Albuquerque that was surprisingly good. I say “surprising” because it was a 2-day conference that had only 1 presenter for the full time both days, but he was very entertaining, obviously knew his stuff, and was extremely passionate about his topic, which I appreciate. I would highly recommend going and listening to Rick Wormeli (pronounced “Worm-lee”, not “Worm-el-lee” like we had been saying it.)

I don’t have much time tonight, so I’m only going to reflect on the items that I summarized and took away during the conference. I will say that this conference impacted me and motivated me greatly, so I am planning on changing several things for next year. Let me quickly give my background and then the main items I took away from the conference:

My Background

I have an SBG grading system which accounts for 70% of a student’s grade, and participation points which account for 30% of a student’s grade. So I’ve tried SBG, and I love it, but I know I can improve it, I just didn’t have a good grasp of how I should improve it.

(Some of) My Takeaways

Here’s what I got out of this conference, in no particular order [1]:

  • Consider changing my 1, 2, 3, 4 scale away from that (perhaps 0, 1, 2, 3 or even 0, 1, 2) because of confusion between/bad reminder of GPA.
  • Do and practice descriptive feedback, which should not be graded.
  • Do Pre-assessment (I’ll blog more on this later)
  • I need to work on defining mastery by standard. Joining NCTM would go a long way in helping me since I’m the only Precal teacher at my school.
  • Stop doing Participation Points. I’ve considered this before, but am more convinced of this.
  • Include previous material on Quizzes/Assessments. I knew this, but was reminded of how little I do it.
  • Show students multiple ways of studying: have them struggle to come up with 25 different ways to do this. Then have them struggle to come up with 25 more ways to do this.
  • Create a form and give students ways to plan for studying.
  • Disaggregate my grades. This will be dependent on my administration going along with this and finding the technology to do this. Fortunately my principal was also at this conference and was highly convinced of the necessity for this.
  • Mandate students to take re-dos.
  • Identify “essential” vs “non-essential” (secondary) standards.
  • Use different symbols to report “grades” for formative assessments.

So you see, even though I’ve done SBG for a year now, I still got a lot out of this conference which has certainly helped me to direct my ideas. I am very hopeful, not only for my classroom, but for all the classrooms in my school as I hope that I can persuade my colleagues of the importance of this idea.

By the way, Rick was not only passionate about SBG, but during every break (even lunch!) he was willing to continue discussing and answering questions from people. He is a true educator!


[1] I think it’s in the order that I realized these things in the conference, more or less.


Filed under Teaching

Meme “Motivational Posters”

I think I’m not alone if having trouble getting students to retake assessments when they’re given the opportunity, so I decided to make a few “motivational poster” memes to get them to retake my “SAS”es (stands for either “Standard Assessment Scheduling” or “Show A Standard”).

Hope you enjoy:

YUNoRetakeQuizzes DontAlwaysGet4s LetMeGetThisStraight-RetakeAnyQuiz SignUpForSASToday


Filed under Teaching

Teaching and Coaching

I’m convinced that I’m a worse teacher during tennis season, while I coach. The students & parents came to me about a year and a half ago having heard that I played tennis back in high school, “so you can coach, right?”  I can coach many of them because there are so many beginners, but that’s not my point. The problem with coaching is how much time it takes, and while I appreciate the input I can give into students’ lives as a coach, it has definitely affecting my teaching. When I’ve got 4 (really 5) different preps, I need time to prepare each of the classes, and I’m just not doing that as well as I do in the fall when I’m not coaching.

The tennis season ends in a week and a half, and I really hope to get back to better teaching practices and spend more time improving my teaching through the math-twitter-blog-o-sphere. Hopefully I am wisely using the time I have with the players to teach them outside the classroom & hopefully I am speaking wisdom into their lives in ways that I cannot in the classroom.

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Filed under Teaching