Life After SBG

So my mind and blog have been taken over and corrupted by those sbg nazis!

I'd like to take a minute just sit right there, I'll tell you how I have other ideas. lol

Somehow I would like to work in sustained silent reading (Yes, I am a math teacher with a classroom library!).

Also game days...students learn more than we realize just while playing. I have tons of games too. (Yes, I spend all my money at yard sales on games and books. And clothes. All classroom necessities.) Whether this be review games, board games, card games, vocabulary games, math games, or non-math games (*gasp* Yes, they do exist!).

I also want to put a huge emphasis on vocabulary as well as reading, analyzing, and creating a variety of graphs.

I'm transitioning to learning logs/exit slips in place of homework.

My warm ups are going to now be timed and mostly multiple choice thanks to Illinois' love of the ACT and my new Turning Point clickers! The clickers will help everyone answer anonymously and get immediate feedback as well as forcing compliance by giving each question a time limit. But I'm thinking the last question will be something open-ended so that everyone can contribute something. Maybe I will only have them write the last one as part of their learning log?

I have not actually implemented any of these ideas. Where do I start? How do I even get them down on paper?

I think I need to start by creating templates (which I happen to love!). Should I have students use their own paper or should I create templates for vocab and learning logs? I think that is an awful lot of paper to print and copy. I should have them use notebooks. But I love to make things pretty. I'm torn!

Should I grade warm ups, learning logs/exit slips? I think I need to separate learning logs and exit slips. I think I want exit slips to be a problem or two worked out. And possibly I will give them the answer so that they have to show me their work in order to 'exit'. Then the learning logs should be a more reflective, in-depth writing activity where students are processing information. Hopefully. I think I will record warm ups and exit slips in the gradebook. The category won't be weighted or worth anything but will be out of 5 for the week, 1 for each day. That way parents can look and see 2/5 for warm ups that week and know that their child chose not to do 3 of the assignments (a CYA skill). Same if students are absent, since the category is not worth anything, it won't count against them. I'm thinking that I care most about the learning logs and should spend the most time assessing them. This year, I also want to focus on timely, accurate feedback rather than just a number. I'm thinking this is what I will do on the learning logs as well as skills assessments. But if every student is journaling every day, how will I ever assess? If I assess weekly then it becomes very timely or else completion  based. Ugh. I'm thinking I will use a variety of assessments. Trade and grade. Call random students to read theirs. Post to a classroom blog? (Eek.) Randomly read? Randomly grade? I don't know. English people help me out here!

Vocabulary. I plan on using the Frayer model for learning vocabulary. I just don't know if I should print out separate template sheets or instruct students on how to fold their paper and draw their own. But once they tear paper out and fold, who knows where it will end up? Should I require binders? Folders? Should I use my hanging folders so they can keep everything in my room? Should I do binder checks? Someone mentioned the idea of the first day of a new unit being vocabulary. But I like the idea of doing a little each day. Should this be after the warm up? Part of the warm up? Before/after exit slip? Part of the learning log? Should students define words before or after we define and use in class? Each unit/lesson won't have the same amount of words so how can I build this into my routine when it is not consistent?

Don't forget about SSR and Game Day! Should I do both once a week? Friday could be assessment day and then play games? Maybe SSR could be the first 15 minutes on a Wednesday for hump day, to break up routine. I have a routine on Mondays of asking every student about their weekend which I think start the week off well. Should every day be something different? (I don't know why but I love that idea!)

Monday- Weekend Recap (class discussion)
Tuesday- Funny Video or Song? Graph? (open to suggestions here)
Wednesday- SSR (first 15 minutes? Last 15 minutes?)
Thursday- Comic Relief (funny cartoons/comics)
Friday- Assessment/Game Day (also coincides with a lot of basketball games. Yay.)

For those of you haven't  noticed, I love lists, routines, and schedules.

And hopefully these will keep my kids out of the principal's office.

And keep me out too. =)


  1. Do your new clickers allow for numerical entry? That may be away to do one of the two ideas (warm-up / exit slips) that won't increase your work load that much.

    How many students do you have?

    I'm just envisioning 6 classes of 30, adding 2 more things a day to grade = 360 more things on a daily basis to grade.

  2. Phew! You've given yourself a lot to figure at once there. I've been thinking about implementing exit slips too, but with all my spare time devoted to SBG I haven't got a plan down yet.

    I have my students write down key vocab words in a list at the back of their notebooks along with definitions. The Frayer Model (which I had never seen until just!) appears to do the job much better, forcing the students to think about the word from different view points. What would you do with the paper trail it would create though? Might be worth asking them to buy a small notebook just for the purpose of vocab? If you used a notebook, perhaps the vocab and learning log could merge into one item.

  3. Using clickers for the warmups and exit slips seems like a good idea, particularly if there is an easy way to transfer the info directly to the gradebook.

    I don't like the idea of learning logs or journaling in math classes, though. Math has traditionally been a refuge for bright, dysgraphic kids and non-native speakers, where they can show their intelligence without having to cope with the physical or linguistic challenges of writing. I know that "writing across the curriculum" was a big buzzword 10-15 years ago, but it never seemed to improve math classes. It squelched the interest of those who were good at math and poor at writing, without raising the ability or interest of those poor at math and good at writing. Those poor at both had no hope of learning anything about either with this approach.

  4. The Frayer model is excellent, but do pay attention to the important role that spoken language can serve in building students' mathematical vocabulary. There are a lot of ways as a teacher that you can plan for and support your students in developing strong mathematical language without specifically having vocabulary-related activities.

    I'd strongly recommend two books as resources for this... the first one is from NCTM and just came out last year:
    ...and this one, while it's not specifically about mathematics, has some fantastic resources for how to support students' language development. Don't let the focus on ESL fool you.

  5. I am going to be building "toolboxes" this year - one for the course I am teaching and one for the graduation test. I am going to give them leeway in how they create it and will show them a could but I am going to insist they write examples down.

    For organization I will ask for 3 ring binders and offer them manilla file folders with metal 2 inch fasteners to hold the papers in - tool box on the left, current work on the right.

    Please share more as you noodle it out.

  6. Andy,
    Clickers are for multiple choice answers only.

    I have 70 kids.

    I need some more ideas for assessing, definitely.

    That's why I blog my ideas, so I can remember them! lol I'm thinking about doing what Sam Shah does. He has them keep a binder in their locker and a folder with them. The folder is their current work which goes into the binder when they move on. So the binder has everything from whole course but not carrying it around. And I do love binders. And they could even keep them in the room. I do want the vocabulary and learning log to kind of merge, but then we also have the guided notes in class. Arghh!

    I do see your point and it is honestly not something I've considered. Although it won't *always* be writing, could be draw a diagram, create a table, write the step of the process, etc. It is something I would have to think about.

    Thanks for the recommendations. I had let spoken/verbal practice slip my mind.

    Intrigued by your toolbox idea. Could you explain more?