August 18, 2013

Geometry Curriculum

I'm gearing up for my fourth year of teaching geometry! Having taught 11 sections over the past three years, you'd think I'd have this thing down. But that's the fun of teaching, I get to reimagine the course every year. Since I'm having a hard time getting excited about planning for this year, I'm continuing to analyze what I've done in the past. An awesome feature of doing (sorta) Standards Based Grading last year is that I can scan through my online gradebook and see exactly what topics I taught and in what order. Or at least, that's how it worked in most cases. It turned out I didn't really do quizzes or tests fourth quarter, no wonder one group was complaining so much about all the projects they had to do! Granted, we did most of the work in class so it shouldn't have been too overwhelming, but I hadn't realized how drastically I changed the class at the end of the year.

An explanation of the categories:

Investigations: tasks that students spend class time working on and sometimes finish for homework (I will be teaching all Fundamentals of Geometry this year so homework is limited). Basically they're interesting problems or projects that I consider worthy of grading.

Standards: at the beginning of most classes I give a 3 question quiz on one recent standard. Every 2-4 standards there is a test. So each standard is assessed twice; old standards only cycle back in the way that you need to know properties of an isosceles triangle to determine something about right isosceles triangles. Students can retake quizzes and sections of a test throughout the quarter.

You can see all the topics at once!
And if you want to know what ASA means,
just flip up the cards in the way.
The "T" in the corner is for Top.
Helps kids figure out how to flip since
they write on the card before taping.
Vocabulary/Flappers: Each word/phrase is the title of an index card, definitions and examples (including diagrams!) fill the rest of the card, then it gets taped onto card stock so you can see the title of every card. This was the only formal note taking we did and it worked beautifully. An entire year's notes on a single (double sided) page - easy to refer to! Words in parentheses were discussed and used frequently, most appeared on a flapper but they were not the title of a flapper.

The plan that I wrote last summer is organized by unit, which is a more logical way to lay things out for any purpose other than analysis. I did a decent job of sticking with the plan and most of my standards line up though they're named differently. (I'm glad I did all of that work last summer and then forgot about the second document by mid-September! At least I used the first one all year, it took the most effort.)

  • Don't answer questions until flappers (or the appropriate reference sheet(s) in third quarter) are out on their desk.
  • Be more focused about organizing binders (we did a great job with flappers, now I'd like to move on to keeping tests/quizzes and a chart of standards so they know what their strengths are and what to retake)
  • Give some tests and quizzes in fourth quarter and don't collect every assignment (end of year slacking will happen, there's no reason to punish yourself by threatening them with grades)
  • Make a comprehensive vocabulary list and talk to the English department about how we can support each other in vocabulary. (Did I miss any words?)
  • Reformat the intro to triangles exploration so they learn "Angle-Side Relationship" at the very beginning (is there a better title for "longest side is opposite largest angle"?)
  • Have fun!

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