Stop using the first day of class to go over your syllabus and classroom expectations. Use the first day of class to start building the relationships with students you want to endure and nurture throughout the year. Especially if we are online, use the synchronous learning time for building relationships, community, and culture. Deliver the syllabus and classroom expectations asynchronously with Unit Zero.
Unit zero is how I introduce the class to students. It consists of several lessons that walk students through the syllabus, how and why the class is structured the way it is, daily classroom routines, and other "housekeeping" items that we all have.
The head fake (ala The Last Lecture) is that the content is delivered exactly how the mathematical content will be delivered all year. Unit 0 is made of a series of lessons, each designed around a learning outcome, that students work through at their own pace. Students move from one lesson to the next after demonstrating they are proficient at that learning outcome via a mastery check. At the conclusion of all the lessons, there is a "unit test" where students can demonstrate and showcase their learning.
After one week of remote teaching and learning in all my classes I've learned a lot, mostly through mistakes, but that's what a growth mindset is all about anyway.
Below is a short list of what I've learned this week. And a list of what I still need to figure out.
One of the most important things not just for competency-based learning models but for all schools, is to norm for subjectivity and variance among teachers. Teachers should go through a process where they individually rate a student’s performance based on the rubric, then debate within small groups to come to a shared understanding of the standards, which helps to shrink any variance in teacher judgments.
Here is one idea to use as a norming exercise in your next PLC...
Think of foundational outcomes as your course description. When I get asked what I teach, one answer is simply to give out the foundational learning outcomes of the course. Foundational learning outcomes are what students will learn.
A carefully selected subset of the total list of the grade‐specific and course‐specific outcomes within each content area that students must know and be able to do in order to be prepared to enter the next grade level, course, or the next level of learning. (Ainsworth, Rigorous Curriculum Design, 2010)
A majority of time will be spent on foundational learning outcomes as well as time and support for students who haven't mastered them and provide extensions for those who have. Use data from these outcomes to help guide instruction.
Here is a process to help you determine which learning outcomes are foundational.
I am working with standards, which we call learning outcomes, that mainly originate from Common Core. When I get together with the other math teachers and discuss how they align these standards to different problems, there is often a discrepancy.
Many learning outcomes address proficiency in specific skills in order to demonstrate proficiency at the outcome and eventually competency level, but these skills are not explicitly stated in the learning outcome statement.
Consider the following problem,
Describe the solutions to cx^2+Ax+B=0
I try to present math topics four ways: verbally, algebraically, graphically, and numerically. There is more than one way to think about a problem and there is often more than one solution. By teaching this way I'm frequently surprised and delighted about how my students solve problems.
The picture above is an example of this. This is a question on a recent test. We've been studying properties of integrals and this is a straight forward question.
I expected the solution outlined below and the solution in the picture above was presented to me. This makes me smile!
I'm closer to teaching 30 years as a teacher in a high school classroom than I am to 25 years. As I reflect on my evolution as a teacher, there are many threads and strands that have been woven together to create the cloth that I wear when I enter a classroom. What follows is an attempt to describe the evolution of one of these threads--homework.
My teaching model has been adapted from the Harkness method. While it is ever evolving based on student input and classroom culture, below is a description of the foundation.
My students need a framework that organizes what's expected and codifies how they should learn in a discussion based environment. Our Biology teacher stresses the 5E method, but that didn't seem to adapt to our classroom learning environment (which is a shame because it would have been nice to align methods across disciplines). After a little research, I decided that the Study Cycle was a really good fit-with some modifications.
The second 15 minute film festival of this year describes that when students learn they are actually rewiring their brain. An example that students seem to connect with is the process they went through when they learned to drive. As they talk about this process the main ideas of this film festival always seem to come up...
1. Talent is not born, it is grown.
"Your only as good as your record collection." -DJ Spooky