How I Got a 100% Passing Rate on the Algebra EOC – Part 2

You are reading the second part of this post. If you missed Part 1, click here to go read it first. Part 1 took us through the first semester of the 2018-2019 school year.

When I came back from the Christmas break, I was concerned about getting through my curriculum. We were behind and I knew that I needed to go strong. I made a calendar of what I needed to get done. I also wanted to give myself a two week review window.

Step 6: After the first semester, set up a calendar of everything you need to finish. Your deadline needs to be two weeks before the EOC.

My lessons were very focused. Just as I said in Post 1, the TEKS were continually studied so that I knew what was expected and how questions on each skill had been asked on past EOC’s. Every quiz and test either had actual EOC questions or resembled them closely. I layed out everything that I knew I needed to finish. I felt better about having a plan.

During the 4th six weeks, I set up lunch tutoring with my lowest students. Remember me saying that I thought about 70% would pass? Really my number was 67% because out of 15 students, I knew 5 of them would pass, I was not sure about the middle 5 and then the last 5…I thought would never pass no matter what I did. Sounds negative I know, but I’m telling you the real thoughts that I had!

I took the bottom 6 and split them up into two groups of three. I met them on Tuesdays and Thursdays during lunch. Why lunch? Because I knew it would be hard to get them to come after school. I gave them the 2017 EOC/STAAR and we started working through the problems. I let them use calculators because I wanted to show them everything I could to help them pass. I’d give them a few problems to work and then I’d go over it with them. I let their tutoring time count as extra credit or I’d replace missing grades. Did they always show up? No. Sometimes I’d go into the cafeteria and find them and make them come to my room. Sometimes I’d let it slide. I didn’t always have the energy to fight the battle.

Step 7: Set up tutoring with your lowest students at least once a week.

The 5th six weeks was crazy. I had to miss two weeks of school to go be with a family member. Thank goodness for Google Forms and Slides. I continued wrapping up the curriculum by sending my students the work through Google Apps. One thing that has saved me over the past few years is having a classroom blog. The students know to go to my blog to get assignments and class information. I was able to post all the links on my blog and we didn’t miss a beat. I had a really good sub that made sure students were doing their work. I kept in close contact with the students and would email them like crazy if I heard they weren’t doing their work. The two weeks that I was gone, I covered exponential functions and geometric sequences. This took us up to Spring Break.

After Spring Break, the district gave a Practice Algebra EOC. It was created by the district but it was very similar to the 2017 Test. It took a day away from class, but in the long run, it gave me very good data.

Step 8: Give a Practice EOC after Spring Break. It could be one of the actual tests. If you plan on doing this, then don’t use any of those questions on tests or quizzes.

Here are the scores. This shows how many questions were answered correctly. One of my students did not return after Spring Break, so I’m down to 14 people at this point. The benchmark actually made me feel so much better. I knew that to pass, they would need to get 21 or so questions correct. The 5 lowest scores had to continue tutoring. (It was the same people that were already attending tutoring. The 6th person was the one that did not return.) I was very worried about the two that scored 16 and 17, but I had not even covered quadratics yet and this test covered everything.

I’ll come back to how I used this data later. As for now, I want to tell you what I did at the very end of the 5th six weeks. (I did manage to get polynomials done and I taught the students how to multiply binomials but the next part is key for the next six weeks!) I gave every student a set of 40 flashcards covering the basics. They cut them out, punched holes in them and put them on rings. I gave them the answers and they wrote the answers on the back. Once it was all done, I gave them a 100. I told them to start studying them and bring them to every class.

Now I’m in the 6th 6 Weeks and I’m getting very close to test time. I’m three weeks from the test. There is no way to get quadratics done in a week, so I knew it would have to take two weeks and I would only have one week to review, but I started incorporating some quick review at the beginning of class. I would give the students 5 minutes to study their flashcards when they came into the room, then I would give them a quick 20 question quiz. It really was quick. I made the quizzes so that they could be answered quickly. The kicker was that the students had to make an 80 or better before they could move on to the next quiz. There were three quizzes in all. They were easy to grade and I got them back to them usually during the same class. I feel like this was a major confidence booster and it was good because they were seeing the same material over and over because each quiz had the same questions, just asked in a different way. This is how I started every class during this two week time frame. Remember, I teach on a block schedule.

Step 9: Give out flashcards and start taking the quizzes – three weeks out from the test.

Let me tell you more about the flashcards and quizzes. I took a resource that I have on TpT called Algebra I STAAR/EOC Review Task Cards and Quizzes. Instead of using the Task Cards as I intended, I made them flashcards. The kids did all the work. I just printed them off. I gave them the answer key because I didn’t want them studying the wrong thing. I truly believe that this made a huge difference…especially for the low students. They need this repetition. It was nice for them because they had something specific to study. The quizzes should have been easy if they studied the cards. Most kids made an 80 or better on the first two quizzes, but time became an issue and I had to tell students that if they wanted to keep trying to make an 80, they would have to come during lunch to finish and not everyone did.

Finally, the last week before the test has arrived. I’ve wrapped up the curriculum as well as I could. The quizzes are mostly done. The Monday of the last week was my Algebra Camp Day. I took my 14 kids to a different part of the building where we would not be disturbed all day long and we worked on some specific tasks. The benchmark data from after Spring Break is how I decided on the specific tasks. Luckily, I had already created an EOC review a couple of years ago. I used bits and pieces of the objectives that I needed. I also changed some of it up to fit my needs that day. I started using some of these materials earlier in the year as needed, but it was good to have things already made that I could use. Camp Day was a success but very tiring. By the end of the day, they were sick of math and so was I, but they all said it was very worth it. I did enjoy it, but it took a lot of energy and time to get it set up. I have all my materials that I made and I will make it a goal of mine to share with you each thing I did in a new post, but for now if you want my EOC Objective Reviews, you can get them at my TpT store. By the way, it has 11 resources plus the Task Card and Quiz review that I mentioned earlier. You can buy only the objectives you want or get them bundled into one comprehensive review.

Step 10: Algebra EOC Camp Day! If you can’t do a full day, at least to a half day!

The last few days that I had in class with them were spent on going over the formula chart and giving them calculator tips. The very last time that I saw them was chaotic. I remember thinking that they weren’t listening, they were off task and they were just all over the place. I couldn’t believe that they weren’t totally focused, but I probably burned them out. I was very intense with them. They knew I meant business. I did not leave feeling good about the last class that I had with them.

All went well on test day though. My ELL students took the test on the computer and everyone else took the paper version. They all passed. I was elated. Here is a side by side of their benchmark scores and their actual test scores.

Benchmark VS. EOC

Let’s recap:

Step 6: Create a calendar plan for the second semester.

Step 7: Set up a tutoring plan with your lowest students. Start going over a previous STAAR test.

Step 8: Give a practice EOC close to Spring Break.

Step 9: Create flashcards and start taking quizzes

Step 10: Algebra Camp – one day or a half day.

***I have started the 2019-2020 school year. I have two Algebra classes this year. I’ve started with 28 students. I’m planning on following this plan with some improvements. The main improvement is that I do not plan on being behind in the curriculum. I’ve already looked at their 8th grade STAAR data. I’m ahead of the game and ready to start. I’m planning on writing a blog about how each six weeks goes. Stay tuned!

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How I got a 100% Passing Rate on the Algebra EOC – Part 1

7th periodFirst of all, let me say that I was sweating it! I seriously thought I’d have a 70% passing rate if I’m being honest. I saw so many weaknesses in my student’s math abilities. They did not come equipped with what they needed to say the least. It had been 3 years since I taught Algebra and I was excited until I finally figured out what a challenge this class would be! So here goes. I’m going to tell you exactly what I did. I’m doing this for y’all but I’m doing this for me as well. I’m starting fresh with a new group and I’m going to follow these steps and try to improve on them.

I would say it was a good three weeks before I got it in gear and realized what I was faced with. One of the first lessons I did was a review and a Pre-Algebra bingo game. After the review, we were ready to play. Well into the game, I kept wondering why no one had “bingoed” (is that even a word?). I kept thinking… any minute there will be a bingo. NO! It never happened and we ran out of time. This stayed in my head and I was baffled. Another clue that things weren’t right is that I had to give some preliminary tests for my district. For several of my students, it took three class periods and one of the kids never finished! I kept noticing that she was trying to get me to help her on just about every problem!

So what did I do?

Step 1: I looked at my student’s testing data from 3rd grade through 8th grade. 

Oh my goodness was it an eye-opener. The student that did not finish the district test had never passed a math STAAR test, EVER! Another student failed the 4th grade. Many of the students passed the 8th grade math STAAR but it was on the 3rd try! You may be saying, “What’s the big deal? This is my class every year.” I’ve been there too, at previous schools but I teach at an Early College High School now! I was not expecting this but really at an ECHS, there may be a little more motivation to succeed, but they are not much different from regular high school students.

*This year, I will do the data analysis earlier and I will know so much more! (I’m also not doing the district test that wasted so much time that did not ever get looked at again!)

So now what? I knew that they had learning gaps but I also knew I had to move on in the curriculum.

Step 2: No calculators for as long as I could stand it.

I’m not sure when we finally used calculators but I believe I brought them out after I made sure they could graph without a calculator. I know from the past, kids pick up on calculators fast so some of the things I wanted to show them could wait.

Why no calculators? The students needed practice on integer and rational operations. When we solved equations, it killed me to watch how long it took them to figure out the basic operations but I stuck with my plan. To scaffold before a lesson, I would do bell ringers that led up to the lesson…anything I knew they would struggle with due to the learning gaps. PLEASE, FOR THEIR FUTURE MATH CLASSES, DO NOT TEACH YOUR STUDENTS HOW TO USE N-SOLVE EARLY IN THE YEAR! You know what I’m talking about if you use the TI-Nspire!

Oh by the way, I had one student that would finish everything early because she actually knew what was going on. I started anticipating this and let her move ahead, help others or work on deepening her knowledge. *Looking back, I should have made her work on TSI material which is how I will improve on this type of student this year.

The first 6 weeks made me very nervous. I was trying to stay on pace with the curriculum, so I had to completely skip solving inequalities with keeping in mind, I would have to throw that in at some point! I did put it in right before graphing inequalities. I think I only spent a day on it, so I knew that it would need to be part of my EOC review before the test.

Before the 2nd 6 Weeks started, I studied the Algebra TEKS (objectives). What does the state of Texas expect from these algebra kids? If you have not looked at the TEKS over and over, I suggest you start.

Step 3: Study the Algebra TEKS and past Algebra EOC’s. How do they ask questions? What has been the trend over the past few years? Start adding these questions to your tests and quizzes. 

I decided that I would start incorporating questions from past EOC’s on my tests and quizzes. After every test and quiz, I would go back and look at the questions with the students and tell them that these were the questions that last year’s kids had to know. I did this consistently and the kids started becoming interested in this. They felt good when they got the questions correct. I also kept telling them to always aim to score a 70 or better on every test or quiz, even though this is higher than they have to make on the EOC.

In the second six weeks, I started recycling information from the first six weeks. I gave them three practice sheets that were only 1 page long. I always have visions of grandeur and of course wanted to give them a worksheet each week, but if you have taught Algebra I, you know that it’s like pulling teeth to get things turned in, so I tried not to fight it and just do as well as I could. I had one person that never turned in any of them, so their loss! Ok, yes that is what I’d like to think but I did offer tutoring after school and if students needed help, they could come in and I would help them. This student never showed even after parent phone calls.

Did I feel better after the second six weeks? No! I kept begging my principal to double block the students or at least do it the second semester, but he never did. (Yes, we are on a block schedule. I saw these students on Tuesday and Thursday for 1 hour and 25 minutes and then on Friday’s for 35 minutes.)

Here is how the students scored on the 2nd 6 Weeks Test:

Gradebook

Yep. Only one person passed. The one with the 27 is the girl that never turned in a practice sheet. Yes, I only had 15 students in Algebra I, but I was teaching Algebra II and Geometry as well with only one conference period every other day. I had a total of 150 students. My hands were full!

Here’s the deal. I’m a problem solver! I never give up and I will keep trying and fighting for my students and what is right. I did take off more days this year than ever before though because of stress and life. I’m retiring in two years and I have a lot of days built up that I need to use. Does this make me a slacker? No! How did I build up all those days? From being DEDICATED! But now I have a married child in nursing school that lives 2000 miles away that I want to go see as much as possible, so I’m doing it. I also have another college-aged kid that I want to spend as much time with as possible because he is about to move out. I’m going to be an empty nester, so family time is so important! I’m saying this because I don’t want teachers to thing that you need to kill yourself doing your job. You are one person and you can only do so much and that is good enough!

Enough of my tangent! I did not give up on these kids after their poor performance. Technically, I could look at the scores and say, “Hey look at how many scored better than a 40! … that’s about the target score of the EOC”…ugh. I had to do something though about poor test scores, so here’s the next part!

Step 4: Students had to come to two tutoring sessions to make up a test. The first session had to be to go over the missed problems even though I would do this a lot in class. The second session, they took a make-up test that they could only get a 70% as the highest possible grade.

gradebook 1This was my policy from the beginning of the year, but I got too careless with it. I can’t force them to show, but I strongly encouraged them after this second six weeks. Some of the kids were great about coming in and others not so much. I started offering lunch tutoring to give them another opportunity to get help while at school. I let them eat in my class because I had to eat too. I did not offer this every day for my sanity, but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which was right after that class! Retesting is a pain, but I believe in it. How else will students learn from their mistakes? If they never look at a test and see what they missed, they will not grow and improve. It’s also good for me to see on an individual basis what their weak areas are and to give them one-on-one help. As you can see to the left, I document if they retested by putting a comment by the score.

My concentration during the 3rd six weeks besides retesting was making students talk about the math they were doing. I was doing a study on math discourse, so I was kind of forced to work on it. You would think after 32 years of teaching, that math discourse would be a big part of my teaching. I thought it was until I started this study. Desmos is a great tool for this as well as Flipgrid. In Desmos, there are lessons called Polygraphs. Students have to describe things to play the game and figure out the graph that the other student is thinking of. If you don’t have computer access for your students, you could totally create a similar game. One student picks a graph and the other person can only ask yes/no questions to figure out which graph was selected. You try to figure it out in as few questions as possible but students need to use math vocabulary! Both students have to understand the concept.

Flipgrid is another animal! It is an app or website where the teacher can ask a question and the student has to video their response. Wow, can I just say this showed me again how the students did not know the correct vocabulary or how to really explain what I asked. I used this several times, but the first time was when I asked them to explain how to graph a line that was in standard form. I felt like this deepened their understanding because I let them work alone to figure out what to say. They used a dry erase board to demonstrate as they were explaining. I loved this so much and I know it helped. Solving for y was a major ordeal, and I feel like most of them understand that as well as where the slope and y-intercept are in the equation and how to use them to graph.

I tried the rest of the year to use Desmos, Flipgrid, Quiz-Quiz-Trade, Collaboration Groups, Reflections and as much talk and explaining about the math that I could think of.

Step 5: Math Discourse is a Biggie, Folks! If you don’t do this, START NOW! I’m stupid for not using these things consistently in the past.

This takes us to the end of the first semester. I will continue this post in Part 2. Let all of this sink in for a while. Let the wheels turn. What can you change? 

Here’s a breakdown of what I suggest you do so far:

  1. Look at student data from their past math scores on the EOC and even their previous math classes.
  2. Don’t use calculators until you can’t stand it anymore or when it becomes really necessary!
  3. Study the Algebra TEKS and the Algebra EOC’s and start adding these questions to your tests and quizzes, then go over them consistently after the test/quiz.
  4. Allow the students to retest, but make them review the material first!
  5. Use Math Discourse as much as possible. Incorporate it daily or at least weekly. 

In this post, I have several links to some of my resources. Most are paid products, but I do have one freebie…the 3 Practice Sheets that I used in the 2nd 6 Weeks. Enjoy and let me know if you need any resources that I can provide or create.

Go to Part 2!

College Readiness in Math

Math Test Prep (8)High School teachers have an obligation to prepare students for college. It’s sometimes tough to remember that. We tend to get caught up in teaching our subject and it ends there. It’s not easy to think beyond that but we must. I was working on a geometry lesson a few weeks ago and kept thinking about how awesome the lesson is. It isn’t awesome because I wrote it but because of how much algebra and geometry it has in it. In some lessons you get so focused on one thing and just keep repeating that thing over and over. This particular lesson has so many concepts and review of algebra. A lesson like this can be used as a review for things students should already know in a precalc class, a calc class or a college test prep class. How awesome would it be to review all of the following in one lesson:

  • Writing equations of lines
  • Finding distance, midpoint and slope
  • Finding slopes of perpendicular lines
  • Refresh terms like parallel, perpendicular, bisect, obtuse, acute, altitude, vertex, circumscribe, inscribe
  • Plotting points and coordinate plane work
  • Drawing all types of triangles

The resource is called Concurrent Segments in Triangles. The technical work leading up to finding these points of concurrency is all of the amazing review concepts above. I was thinking that I could take this lesson and break it into parts and use it when I review for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, ACCUPLACER or the TSI. My school is on a modified block schedule. I see all my classes on Fridays and there are lots of interruptions. I’ve turned Fridays into test prep days. I can use the concurrent segment lesson and make it last six weeks! I’m not going to get caught up in the terminology used such as orthocenter, incenter and such. I’m going to focus on the awesome math involved. Not many lessons have so much good math. Can’t wait to start this!Concurrent Seg

Check out this bundle full of college ready resources:

CR Bundle Cubed

 

Sierpinski’s Triangle

close up photo of green fern leaf
Photo by Tausif Hossain on Pexels.com

What do ferns, snowflakes, seashells and broccoli have in common? They are all fractals, of course! Fractals are fascinating and they are a great way to add some spice to your exponential functions unit. Have I told you how much I love exponential functions lately? I have a ton of exponential functions resources in my TpT store. In the Exponential Functions Stations Resource, I have a Sierpinski’s Triangle activity. What a great way to mix Art, Geometry and Algebra! The Sierpinski Triangle is an example of a fractal and an exponential function. I love the fact that so many real life objects can be examined through fractals and exponential functions.sierp-det Recently, I turned my Sierpinski Triangle activity into a google slides activity. I added some videos and an interactive fractal web page. I’d like to share this with my followers because I think that you will find it interesting and engaging for your students.

Young students can explore the Sierpinski triangle as well. Any math class that discusses triangles or patterns, could enjoy this activity. Change the google slides to fit your needs.

There’s more than one pattern that can be explored. In the pictures above, you could count shaded triangles each time to get, 1, 3, 9, 27, 81…  or count the unshaded triangles to get 0, 1, 4, 13, 40… which is increasing each time by 1, then 3, then 9 and so forth which is related to the first pattern. You can discuss area and perimeter of the inside triangles and see what patterns may occur! Mind Boggling! 

Another fun activity involving Sierpinski’s triangle is to build a 3-dimensional one. If you have a die cut machine at your school with a triangle pattern, you can make enough for each student in your classroom and get them to connect them in such a way to produce the pattern over and over and make it larger and larger. Google: Sierpinski’s Triangle in 3-D and look at the images. It’s very cool!

Are you ready to receive my Sierpinski’s Triangle Google Slides Activity? Click here and make a copy! Enjoy and please consider following my blog as well as my TpT store so you can continue to receive math activities similar to this one.

 

 

12 Days of Christmas Crammed into 4!

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I love my followers! I want to shower you with gifts the next 4 days! Each day there will be 3 freebies (that are not normally free!) and one 50% off bundle in my TpT Store!. Starting on December 15th, go to my store and look in the featured items section to see what the gifts are!

Day 1: Geometry

Day 2: Algebra I

Day 3: Algebra II

Day 4: College Prep

Want to follow my store? Click the green star when you get there! When you are a follower, you will know when I post new resources. All resources are 1/2 off for 24 hours when they are uploaded to my store!

I hope you get to spend quality time with family and friends this holiday.

Take care and Happy New Year!

Lisa Hamiter/Time Flies Edu

5 Reasons Why You Need To Use Google Forms for Quizzes in Your Classroom

I don’t know what I would do without google forms! I have 150+ students this year and I’m teaching three different subjects. Google form quizzes have saved me! I recently made a google form quiz template that I will share with you at the end of this blog. Here are the reasons I love google forms for quizzes:

  1. TIME SAVER – Yes, you have to spend time making the quiz upfront, but the time you save on not grading the quiz is so worth it. I love that the quiz grades itself. You can even send students their results by email. You can share a copy of the quiz with other teachers. They can take the copy you give them and edit the quiz to work for their classroom. It would be great to alternate with a fellow teacher on making the quizzes. Again…big time saver! Once you have made your quiz, it automatically saves in your google drive. Now you have it for next year!
  2. ANALYTICS – When the students are finished taking the quiz, you can view the data! At the top of the google quiz, there is a tab for responses. In the response tab, you can view the summary, individual questions or individual students. You can’t get this from your paper assessments! Well, you can if you feel like spending a million hours figuring it all out! The data is very helpful! The picture below shows some data from one of my recent Algebra II tests. Take note of the most missed question! I love that I get to see what the students struggled with the most. This helps me with planning.goo2
  3. TEACHER ERROR – Do you ever make mistakes? I do! If you make a mistake on the quiz, just go fix it. If the students have already taken the quiz and you made a mistake and forgot to mark an answer in the answer key, then fix it. The google form will automatically make updates to the grades for each student. There are many times when my first period class will notice a grammatical error. I’ll fix it before the next class. It updates and saves automatically.
  4. GOOD FOR SUBS – When I know I’m going to be gone, I love to plan a quiz. No papers to copy, grades will be automatically generated and the sub really doesn’t have to do anything but keep an eye on the students! I hate being absent because it seems like it’s more work than it’s worth. Now I can take a mental health day and feel good about what the students have done while I’m gone.
  5. SIGN OF THE TIMES – We can’t hide from technology. I’ve been teaching for 32 years and I want to be up on what’s out there! Some teachers don’t want to mess with google forms because they feel like it will be too complicated. It is not complicated! Dive in! You can handle it. It just takes practice. I’m leaving you with a quiz template. Make it  your own. You will love it once you’ve become familiar with it.

*You will need a gmail account to create a google form.

Google Form Quiz Template

Visit my TpT store to find great resources like the ones below:

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Using Desmos in your Class Blog/Website

My BlogI love Desmos, so when I discovered how to use HTML code to add a desmos practice graph on my blog, I was ecstatic. If you are not familiar with Desmos and you are a math teacher, you need to visit the desmos.com site!

I use my class blog for many things:

  1. Lesson Plans
  2. Syllabus
  3. Math Links
  4. Class Announcements
  5. Videos
  6. Quizzes and Tests
  7. Classwork
  8. Homework
  9. Anything else I can think of!

I love having a blog because it saves me paper, but the best part is when I have a sub. I put the plans on the blog and the kids know to go to it and find their work! It’s so nice not to rely on somebody to give the students the work. No excuses!

Recently, I was trying to figure out how to do something else with Desmos and discovered how to put a graph right on my blog. You can view it here if you’d like.

So if you are ready, let’s add a graph to your site!

As a teacher, if you haven’t created a Desmos account, that would be the first thing you should do. Next, create a graph that you would like to use or for the purposes of practice, use a blank graph. Go to the share button in the top right corner of the Desmos page.

Desmos 1

Click the share button. Copy the link (don’t click embed). Now you need to add some code to the beginning and the end of it, so it will work.

Type this: blog 4In place of the red sentence above, put the link that you copied from Desmos. You can play around with the dimensions of the height and width to fit you blog.

 

Now you need to know where to put this code. In the blog or website you use, find where you normally go to create a new post. There is usually a place to put HTML code. Here are two examples:

This one is from Blogspot:     blog 3

This one is from WordPress.com:      blog 2

Paste your code and save your changes. Go look at the post to see if it worked!

I hope you are as excited about this as I am. I love learning new things and I love finding things that will help my students. Please let me know how it worked for you! Best of luck!