2018-2019 Goals Check In: September

Before the school year started, I wrote this post detailing three goals for myself for the year. I promised to check in on this every month, and it seems that it is already the end of September, so here we go….

Goal 1: Grade Less Papers

Maybe I have done too well on this goal? I have not taken things home to grade a single time this year, and I have left school within 45 minutes of contract time ending every day. I feel pretty great about that part of it, but I don’t know that I am hitting the bullseye on providing the most useful feedback to students.

I don’t think that my feedback is WORSE than it was when I was grading physical papers and handing them back every day, I just don’t think it’s BETTER either. I’m really focusing on the students self-assessing, as I mentioned in my original goal post that’s my focus for my action research paper for the completion of my master’s, and I think I’m improving on that front. I’ve spent more time making clear answer keys this year than grading, so that students can check their own work.

The things I still want to work on here are the accountability for truly checking your own work and giving a real, honest self assessment, and I want to add in a component of them reporting on the types of problems they had to try more than once on. I want them to work on recognizing the specific skills they need to improve on. Then I would love to experiment with giving a problem set and individualizing which problem numbers different students work on based on this reporting, to make my feedback really connect with their practice. I also do want to find a way to still give them written feedback of some sort even if they aren’t handing in physical papers all the time.

Goal 2: Experiment with non-traditional assessments

The goal here was at least one “alternative” form of assessment every half term, and we are at our first midterm and I….almost did this?

In Algebra 2, many students needed a full two days to complete our first traditional assessment (these are common for the district and aren’t currently required for every teacher to use but I know they will be in coming years so I’m trying to get in the habit of using them). Students who finished in the first day, I gave an additional assessment opportunity. The standard we were working on was F.IF.7b: Graph square root, cube root, and piecewise-defined functions, including step functions and absolute value functions. 

I had students roll a die to determine if they would create their own piecewise, step, or absolute value function. Once they created one, they wrote a paragraph explaining how one would graph it – step by step instructions. This gave them a chance to show that they knew how to process the components of the function even if they maybe made mistakes when actually graphing it. I said they could talk it through with a partner to revise their steps. I really did like this assessment option but only a few students actually completed it, so I would like to have the whole class complete this and also nail down my instructions more because some of the descriptions I got were not as fleshed out and detailed as I would like.

An attempt was made, but I don’t think I would say I quite hit this one for this half-term.

Goal 3: Class time to discuss completed work

I said specifically that I wanted to bring misconceptions from practice work to the whole class for discussion, and that I wanted to provide time after assessments to discuss and ask questions.

I think I’ve been doing okay at the misconceptions thing, except for the most part I’ve been doing it at the start of the next class period instead of the end of the one they’re doing the practice in, because that’s just worked out well for me and I think it kicks off the next lesson nicely. I really wish I had a document camera because at the moment I’m mostly just reproducing student work I saw and I would like to actually SHOW the students’ work itself, but that isn’t technology I currently possess. Would like to develop a workaround for this.

The time after assessments I have done super well on for Algebra 1 – we spent an entire class period comparing their tests to the rubric and having them analyze their mistakes on each problem, and they could ask their classmates or me to help them put their mistakes into words.


I thought this was so beneficial for them and I’d like to do it more often. My current issue is that my Algebra 2 students have struggled with absences this year…so it’s often almost a week later that enough of them have actually completed an assessment for us to be able to talk about it as a whole class. And then I forget. So I’m thinking about what to do there. My main goal here is to really work with my Algebra 1 students on how to learn from mistakes and work to improve their understanding. I’d like to do this more with mid unit quizzes also.


Author: missmastalio

Math teacher at an alternative high school. Living the best life.

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