My evidence that I am collecting for my final project is the work of the students. I have collected them and kept them in order so I can see the progress of the students. I can evaluate their work and pick out the errors that I need to correct and watch for those errors to be corrected. I had noticed that the students were correcting their errors before I could catch them due to the Pizzazz assignment have the answers on the paper. I realized that I needed to allow the students to make the errors so I can see them. I created worksheets with the answers and it provided work space for the students to write in the language to reduce errors. When I would grade their papers I would use it as a teaching point to help them to write in the mathematical language so they wouldn’t make errors or I would help them to see the error they needed to correct. If time didn’t allow me to have individually talk with the student they would have to read their mathematical writing and recognize the colored marker emphasizing the step that needed to be done, that wasn’t done in the correct order. The assignments were collected daily and immediately graded by me and returned to the student for corrections. This was exhausting to me, but it allowed more individual mentoring. Most of the students embraced the change and appreciated the insight to the “Order of Operations”. I did have two students that resented receiving their work back. They just wanted the task done. Due to the quick turn around of the assignment for immediate feedback most of the assignments were turned in daily.

On Monday, we reviewed the higher-level problems. This allowed me to give instructions again that pertained to grouping symbols and exponents. We continued our pattern of turning in the work to be graded and returned for corrections. Students did well at working through the problems that were difficult.

On Tuesday, we took our final assessment. Students we spread out to their own table with binders up to block the view among students. They work diligently and turned in their work. After grading their assignments I only marked c for correct and / for incorrect. I gave no hint to how to correct their error. This final assessment was not the same as the pre-test. The students had exceeded my expectations and so I moved to a high level of performance. These are pre-algebra students and I moved on to algebra level work for them.

On Wednesday, I returned their assessment for any corrections that needed to be made. I enjoyed watching the student strut back to my desk after making a couple of corrections. You could see how proud they were of how well they performed. I had one student fear his test and was quite pleased that he didn’t do as bad as he thought. I had another boy refuse to make any corrections. He didn’t like his papers returned either. We offer him help, but he gets in a mood that requires time to accept the task he doesn’t want to do. To my dismay he didn’t make any corrections on his final assessment. He did exceed the pre-algebra level of work, but did struggle some with the algebra level of work. This will be taken into consideration in their grades.

Sally,

The Pizzaz self-correcting worksheets are a great tool that avoids that circular effect of having students say, I’m done, turn it in, only to have to receive it back for making corrections—when students are rushing through work. However, it is true, that catching their actual errors helps identify exactly where the misunderstandings in math are, so the teacher can use a think-aloud lesson to walk them through the process. One thing about math, is that we don’t want them to practice errors, because going back and undoing the habit of doing it the incorrect way is hard to reconcile.

Maybe your student who did not want to make the corrections could see (but maybe not admit to you) how important it is to get the order of operations down as you take them to the next level. The students exceeded your expectations—nice!

I have a student who “shuts down” in math too. He will work if it has a low enough challenge for him—he improves at a much more gradual rate. The option is that he will refuse to work; and even start damaging items in the room. Although I realize his behavior is not only a result from math, but from live at home as well, I am thinking about why so many of our middle school students are behind in math. All I really need to do is take a look at that spiral math curriculum program they were in during previous years. It was supposed to teach concepts, vocabulary, and revisit concepts learned—but the revisiting does not happen soon enough, and concepts are not mastered before moving on. The concepts are better learned on Dreambox math program, in my opinion.

Sounds like you have done an excellent job of communicating to the students that they Can do it!

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