It's only a month until school starts up again, and I want to be ruthlessly efficient in these next few weeks. So I need to spend some time clarifying what I need to do in order to get ready for school. So, here's my list of things that I need to get done.
(0. Various side projects and relaxing. I haven't forgotten these at all.)
1. Homework -- I need to figure out how it's going to be assigned and assessed. I didn't grade it at all last year, and students didn't do it, so I stopped bothering to assign it, essentially. I need to choose some sort of structure to at least start things off with. I'm leaning towards bi-weekly homework quizzes, and 4-8 problems assigned nightly. I've also been playing around with the idea of reading assignments.
2. Grading -- My big question is will I grade behavior, and (if I do) how will I grade behavior? Also, need to figure out where homework and classwork fit into here. Also also, I'm hoping to do skills quizzes and also summative tests, so I need to figure out how that will work. I also need to set up my gradebook before school starts, as there were aspects of my set up last year that made it hard for me to make changes. (Can Google please develop a free product aimed at schools so that I can just use GoogleDocs, puh-lease? I need something that integrates well with Excel, at the very least.)
3. Ice Cream -- Eat ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream. This is going great.
4. Skills quizzes -- I need to finalize my skills lists, enter them into the gradebook for the kids, and figure out how I'm going to work on retention this year. Also, I like the idea of grading being dynamic both for better and for worse, but I'm not sure how to work that out. Maybe by adding the two scores? Maybe by making the first time they see the skill worth one point, and the second time worth 4? And when exactly am I going to give these skill quizzes -- weekly? When we finish a topic? (Last year I just did a skill quiz when we finished a topic, but that didn't allow for retention checks since we were already asking pretty time-consuming questions.)
5. Small-group work -- I want to implement some small group work into my classes in a more formal, regular way, but I'm not sure how or where to start. I'd like for it to be a regular, structured feature of learning in my classroom.
6. Blend -- So I bought a blender. Ideas on things to blend? Everything I've made so far has just been good, not great. I'm aiming for greatness, immortality, milkshakes, etc.
7. Good questions and important points -- I want to start compiling a list of good questions to ask students for my different units, as well as compiling a list of the hard parts that my students struggle with. I think that this is the best sort of prep that I can do, in terms of lesson planning. It'll make me more efficient over the course of the semester. This, rather than compiling activities, seems to be a good use of my time. It will also make it easier for me to lay bare the connections between different topics.
8. Binders -- Plan on how I'm going to use binders with students. I think that there should be dividers for things such as calculator instructions, a different divider for notes, a different divider for handouts, and a folder for their quizzes/tests. Then they should also have a list of the skills that they need to know. I'd like to make a model binder for myself.
9. Buy a stapler. I often need to staple things.
10. Don't blog when I'm hungry. This is really just a note for myself, but, man, I'm really hungry. I'm going to go blend something.