Where We've Been: Summer Vacation
Where We're Going: On a 10 month journey through the rigors of Geometry
Seeing as students are fresh off the summer the break, I plan to begin with some direct instruction. I say, "Let's start with some basic conditioning and mental calisthenics." I give each student a copy of APK_Percentages, a calculator, and a mini whiteboard and marker.
We'll cover some basic problem types that will useful to students during the year (in many of their courses).
I model solving problems of each type and then check for understanding by letting the students do others of the same type on their whiteboards. At the end, I generalize the process so that students can record it in their notes:
To find the percent of a number (on a calculator): p% of n = (p/100)*n
To convert a ratio to a percentage: x out of n = (x/n)*100%
I now expect my students will be better able to assess their own progress by interpreting their marks on projects and assessments.
Building on our opening work, we'll now talk about grades and how they're calculated in my course. I start by saying to students, "Say you got a test back and at the top it says 56/60. Is that good? What grade is that?" I want students to come away from today's lesson thinking about their grade in my course as measurable and "engineerable". If they know how grades are determined, then they can be more strategic about goal setting.
I start with the concept of weighted categories. I teach this by example using Mock Grade Spreadsheet. I give the following example:
In-Class Activities (25%): 240 points out of 300
Homework (10%): 90 points out of 120
Formative Assessment Corrections and Reflections (15%): 60 points out of 150
Collaboration (10%): 80 points out of 100
Summative Assessments and Projects (40%): 210 points out of 350
Then, I model my thinking. I will articulate the following process to teach the example:
ICA: Max Possible = 25%; 240 out of 300 = 80%; 80% of 25% = 20%...so Jill gets 20 percentage points toward her grade from the ICA category
HW: Max possible = 10%; 90 out of 120 = 75%; 75% of 10% = 7.5%...so Jill gets 7.5 percentage points from HW.
Continuing in this manner, I progress through the determination of a final grade as the sum of all the weighted category percents. I follow this up with a few more examples that allow me to talk about some student archetypes. I choose archetypes so that most students will be able to identify with at least one of the examples:
Overall, I am trying to take the mystique out of the grade calculation process, and, help students appreciate how they can succeed in my class.
For today's Guided Practice, I introduce more mock students, giving students the opportunity to do the work on their mini whiteboards. I may show pictures of "students" to engage students visually as I share the student's metrics. I encourage students to complete one step at a time on the whiteboards, as follows:
1. What percentage of the possible points did the students earn in category X?
2. How many percentage points will the students earn from category X?
3. How many percentage points has the students earned altogether up to this point?
4. (Finally) What grade has the student earned in the class?
For the first example, I ask students to follow along with me. For the second example, I state the numbers and let students go to work on it. Then, I ask them do a pair-share with a partner. For the third example, I call on non-volunteers to report out their results. Thus, I am introducing some standard routines for problem solving and sharing our work.
The goal of this closing section is two-fold:
In my classroom my desks are usually in rows. To begin, I demonstrate how I want the desks to rotate to make groups of four. I give the directions, and then I say, "C'mon team...let's see how quickly and smoothly we can make this happen....Go!" Once students have transitioned, I give some feedback to several groups about their arrangement:
Once a group is properly assembled, I give them a copy of the Calculating Grades Performance Task student resource. I then assign each group a mock student from the Mock Grade Spreadsheet. Before students get down to work, I briefly talk about the performance task and what will be expected from students [see MathRubric]. Then, students have the next 20-30 minutes to work on the task. I'm walking around helping students apply what they have learned in the lesson, getting to know students a little.