### SBG….Holla!!!

Well, the school year is off to a full sprint!!! In addition to my “regular” job as a highschool mathematics teacher, I also teach stats at a local college. This is the first time that my college class has coincided with the opening of the school year and it is *exhausting*!!!! My course load was changed this year as well. I am now teaching three Algebra 2 with Trigonometry classes, a Calculus course that runs concurrently with out local community college, and one section of Academic Intervention Services (AIS). I have not been terribly happy with my Algebra 2 state exam results and since Algebra 2 constitutes the bulk of my course load this year, I decided to revamp the course.

In my opinion, New York state puts it’s students (and teachers!!!) in a tough spot by teaching a bunch of Algebra for a year, taking a year off to teach Geometry, and then coming to Algebra in the third year. I decided to spend 4 days doing some basic algebra skill review in the form of an Algebra Bootcamp (a la Sam). I focused on exponents, greatest common factors, basic trigonometric ratios, and factoring. I think the students enjoyed easing back into school and not having to jump right into a new unit. Also, teaching this review unit allowed me to give my students a good starting off point for my foray into Standards Based Grading (SBG).

I have been dabbling in SBG for the past couple of years in my Fundamentals of Algebra course. I loved the pedagogy behind it, but I never felt that it was terribly successful. I think part of the reason was that I was not as fully invested into it as I should have been **and** that the lower level freshman did not have the desire and drive to take advantage of the possibilities to raise their assessment grades.

My Algebra 2 students (mostly Juniors) and Calculus students (all Seniors) have taken off with SBG! I have gone from feeling lonely in my room after school to having at least a half dozen students in my room. My student teacher and I have been diligently working pairing them up or putting them in small groups and the mathematical discussion that has taken place has been awe-inspiring. I can’t wait to hear more conversations down the road as the students get more used to using conversation to think and discuss mathematically!

I have been trying to find a way to have them “sign-up” on my website before they come in. I have embedded a google form into my website. It seems to have a few bugs in different browsers. I am not totally sure what is going on there. Ideally, I would like the students to sign-up ahead of time so that I had a list of who to expect and I could take attendance. Also, I could report to parents or administrators exactly who came to extra help. And I would have it all done without a bunch of unnecessary paperwork! Furthermore, if I could find a method that worked for me, I could know ahead of time who was coming in and I could have customized retakes all ready for them when they arrive!

Overall, it has been an exciting and hopeful couple of weeks. Usually by now in Algebra 2 I am starting to feel a little discouraged and worried about the looming Regents exam. This year, however, I am excited to see how these changes will affect the success of my students on the exam! I will keep you all posted.