Month: May 2013

Better Assessments is Live!


After an inexcusably long delay, the Better Assessments blog is now up and running. Head on over to have a look at Stephanie Reilly’s Algebra 2 quiz on exponents and adding polynomials.

Add your voice to the conversation by asking questions and providing feedback in the comments, and consider submitting your own assessments while you’re at it! Details (including alternative ways to play) are over at the blog.


Pathways Through the Common Core

I recently joined a conversation on Twitter about pathways through the Common Core State Standards and potentially-shifting opportunities for advanced students. It seems I’m not alone in wondering how a transition to the CCSSM will play out in our actual classrooms and departments.

I teach in a very small math department (two members for the entire 7-12 program), so I am particularly curious to know how debates are unfolding and plans are taking shape in other school districts (like yours!).

For districts both large and small, I imagine it would be helpful to know the questions others are grappling with, as well as the solutions they’re proposing to the many challenges that will arise as we make this transition. If you’re interested in adding your voice to the conversation, drop a line in the comments describing as many of the following as you please:

  1. Your district’s intended approach (traditional vs. integrated)
  2. Timeline (and other relevant details) for your transition
  3. A link to a course sequence/pathway (if you have one), or a list of the options students have at each grade level
  4. Plans for acceleration (i.e., what to do with/for your students who want/need/deserve to be challenged)
  5. Plans for remediation (i.e., what to do with/for your students who struggle to the point of failure in one or more classes)
  6. Concerns and challenges
  7. Other random insights
  8. Lingering questions
  9. Whatever else comes to mind

Since I’m not interested in highlighting our approach as anything worthy of emulation, I’ll share my school’s plans, questions, and so forth, in the comments.

Thanks in advance to all who chime in!

Difference of Squares Game

A Game!

Finals week often has awkward down time for students. With that in mind, I made a game for my middle school students to play next week.

I’d love some feedback on the directions, the scoring system, and the game itself.

And if you play with your students, let me know how it goes!

A Few Words About Points

The decision to award more points for even values was arbitrary (I could just as easily have chosen odds) but also intentional (I want to motivate students to observe patterns/behavior and use their observations to target certain values or types of numbers).

More points for higher numbers was un-arbitrarily intentional (I want to motivate students to tinker with larger numbers).

I want students to hunt in a clearly defined, finite space, hence the 1-100 boundaries. Good idea? Bad idea? I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know how things go next week.