As a part of my instructional practice this year, I have been working hard to get better at using student data to plan for reteaching and differentiation. Last year and the beginning of this year, I have used common formative assessments to analyze student misconceptions and plan strategies for reteaching content with other members of my professional learning community. This often included warm ups that reviewed older content or connecting new content to the older content, which seemed to work according to my assessment results (all averages have improved from last year's scores). While this effort has been helpful to students and allowed me to adjust instruction to meet their needs, I have been working hard to take this process even further. Phase 2 of this process included instructional days with assignments designed to allow students to work at their own pace. Students could complete the assignment as slowly or quickly as they needed. During this time, I would talk with the students that needed extra support and provide a mini-lesson or other instructional support to address their misconception. Again, this was working well, but I wanted my teaching practice to include more of my technological strength.
This semester, I have been incorporating more technology tools as a means for providing students with differentiated assignments and supports. For example, last week I gave students tasks in three levels that allowed them to work through the content at their own pace. For students who struggled at level one, Khan Academy had built-in tutorial videos students could watch to get extra support. This helped me concentrate my efforts on tracking student progress and working one-on-one with students who needed support the most.
This brings me to my latest phase of this process. This week, students in my class did poorly as a whole on their quiz. Even after warning students of the many misconceptions and potential mathematical errors that can occur when solving equations with rational exponents, I saw every possible combination of mistakes. One of my colleagues had a similar result. It was clear that we needed to provide students with more practice. However, there were a handful of student in each section of my class who did incredibly well and would definitely get bored if they had stay working on the same material. I decided to start the intro to the next concept, using logarithmic functions to solve exponential equation (which requires an understanding of inverses). This gave me and students a break from the previous concept while giving me time to come up with a plan for moving forward (or going back). I created next steps for students in two phases. Phase one: review of equations with rational exponents and online exercises that can give student immediate feedback on their solutions. Students who did poorly on the quiz would have an opportunity to relearn the previous concepts and those continuously getting stuck can get one-on-one support. Phase two: applying logarithmic functions to exponential equations and exponential word problems. Students who do not need to go back to equations can continue with new material and stay engaged during class. Unlike prior activities, I marked the bottom of each student's quiz with a 1 or a 2, to indicate which phase they should start on for the day's activities. While it is impossible to know how any lesson will go on a given day, I'm feeling very confident about my activities for tomorrow. Between the planned activities and my implementation of Classcraft, I know we're going to have a lot of fun :) For more information on my start to Classcraft, see my post from last week.
Mattea Juengel is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools.