Students enter silently. Quizzes are on their desks and they are to begin as soon as possible. They are allowed to spread out and sit at empty tables and are given the option to use cardboard dividers and noise canceling head phones. Instructions on the SmartBoard notify students that they will have the entire class period (50 mins) to complete this quiz (a timer will be displayed). They are also reminded to use notes and any other classwork completed this week. The quiz will cover number operations and algebraic topics to review for the state test.
All students must have notes open. At this time in the school year it is possible that there may be some students who are struggling with their confidence and will have nothing out. Many times this happens with students who come into 7th grade with a negative association with math. Perhaps they have always failed this subject or have always struggled to pass. It is important to ensure all students have something out, even if that means providing copies of the teacher resources including all the notes and answers. I remind students that this is our time to practice and catch our mistakes so that we can be prepared for the state test. I also let students know that partial credit will be given for quiz corrections.
Students will also receive bubble sheets to speed up the process of checking and grading the quizzes. For this lesson, my goal is to return quizzes to students within the same class period if not by the end of the day. Students will need immediate results to their quizzes so that they may complete the homework.
Once there are 10 minutes left in class all students will need to stop working, including those with extended time requirements. I will need this time to explain the directions for the homework. First, all students will receive a “test taking strategies” document and the Homework “Quiz Corrections” packet. By now, all students should have received their graded quizzes or will submit them for grading and returned by the end of the day. The directions for the homework are the following:
Students who did not complete the quiz and left 5 or more answers blank will need to complete only 5 of the incomplete questions for homework. If fewer than 5 were left blank, again, these blank ones will need to be completed first and then the remainder can be made up of any other items that were answered incorrectly. Those with a 100% on the test will be announced and asked if they are able to coach other students over the phone in completing their assignment. Those who got fewer than 5 problems incorrect will only correct their mistakes.
I elect one student volunteer to use as a model for how to complete this homework assignment. For example, I may choose to model “Treat each answer choice as a true or false response. Select the “most true” answer.” Students will see me writing T or F for each answer choice in the work I display in the box to show that I used that strategy. By arming students with strategies we are also arming them with tools that will help them practice MP1. Students need more than pure encouragement, such as “you just have to try harder”, something I once said to many of my students. Students need to know that in order to “try harder” you must be armed with an arsenal of strategies so that they can take control of the situation. Much of the low confidence in math comes from a fixed mindset that there is nothing one can do because it is out of their control. In order to change this mindset we must come up with strategies and resources to help our students feel in control. This is an important idea behind Carol Dweck’s research on the growth vs fixed mindset. Additionally The Skillful Teacher includes a very helpful chapter on how to change students’ mindsets, including a list of strategies to take back control