Saturday, August 29, 2015

Light Bulb Moment #1 - What does completion look like?

School starts in two days.  This week, I readied my classroom, and checked off item after item on my "to do" list.  We had two days of professional development with time for meetings and more meetings.  During one of the meetings, our Special Ed liaison shared the IEPs of the students we will be teaching this year.  She gave us a concise summary of strategies recommended for each student on the list.  One of the strategies listed quite a few times was "Show what completion looks like".  
May seem very obvious, and it's something I do on occasion, but seeing the words in writing several times on the list of new students struck me. 
One of my checklist items this week is always to update the syllabus for each class I teach. In it, I describe the homework expectations, format and my grading policy.  That's when the light bulb ignited!  Each year,  seems I have a number of students who continue to negotiate what their homework should look like, and what level of completion is satisfactory.  Why, in the past, haven't I provided an example of what I expect?  So, this year I am, which is a good start on showing what completion looks like for the students for whom it is specified and for all of them.   My homework will be up on our Plus Portal system and assigned as the second day's homework.  Students will need to log onto Plus Portal, download the assignment, find the homework in the book, and finish the assigned problem in the correct format.
Seems obvious, but  sometimes light has to dawn.  I think it will make a big difference in the results I see for homework in the class.

What do you think?


  1. I think you are correct and this is a fabulous idea! It wasn't done when I was in school, but a constant refrain was to "show your work." When my girls were in school, I had a hard time following their process because they didn't show the work. I confused them when I tried to show them how to do a problem because they were not being taught the way I was. Oy!

  2. P.S. Can you remind me on how to calculate a ratio? Thank you! I'm thinking something like 67:80 is to x:100, solving for x. I know I was taught to set it up as a fraction and... is it 67/80 = x/100? Can't quite remember (and I don't like losing basic math stuff)!

    1. Sure! When you have two equivalent ratios, as you've shown me with the "=" sign, you are actually solving a proportion. What value of x makes both these fractions equal? Because you have a denominator of 100 in the second fraction, you are solving "67 is what % of 80". You have a couple of options.

      a. Cross multiply. 67 x 100 = 80X so 6700 = 80X; divide both sides by 80 to isolate X. 6700 divided by 80 is 83.75 so 67 is 83.75% of 80. When you "eyeball" your answer, it looks approximately correct. 67 is a little more than 3/4 of 80 and 83.75% is a little more than 75%.

      b. Simply divide 80 by 67. Your quotient will be .8375. Then multiply by 100 (which results in moving the decimal place two spaces right giving you 83.75

      c. "Simplify before you multiply". If one of your fractions can be simplified, do so. 35/42 = x/18. 35/42 simplifies to 5/6 when you divide numerator and denominator by their common factor of 7. 5/6 = x/18. So, look at the denominators. 6 x 3 = 18. So, multiply the numerator of 5 by 3 to find that x = 15.

      Does that help?

  3. Some feedback after the fact. This plan worked pretty well. Next time, I will add a handout that shows all the login information needed for the students new to our school. They had struggles with their school-provided usernames. On the plus side, every one of my math students is now able to log into their gradebook, to find an assignment, and to log in to our online textbook. All good!