Today is the first school day of 2014! We are heading toward the end of the semester. Two weeks of review, then Midterms/Finals.

I’ve been doing Interactive Student Notebooks, as detailed by Math = Love and Everybody is a Genius . I started these the second month of school.

What I like about ISNs is that I have to really think about what it is I want my students to take away from each lesson. The format requires me to chunk concepts down. I like that it gives students something different to do in class (cut, color, and paste) and engages everyone. It has slowed down my teaching so my pacing is more in line with where my students are at.

What I’ve seen is that students who do well on Notebook check also tend to do well in class. My number of failing students has declined as well, with the failing students either those who came in low skilled (i.e., were in my remediation class last year) or who are attendance issues.

The downside is that it seems to work better for Geometry than Algebra 1. I’m not sure why this is. It may be that my Algebra 1 students are more varied in ability and knowledge. It may be that my Algebra 1 is a double block. It may be that I am not varying the type of practice enough.

Which brings me to my next concern: Even with my Geometry students, they still struggle with higher-level problems that require creative thinking. The plus side is that they are getting the basics, but the minus is that their thinking is stopping there.

In my POD (my math teacher group) we have decided to address this by concentrating our review for the finals on higher-level tasks. This we will do for the next two weeks. The idea is that now that they have the basics, we can build on that knowledge to deepen their understanding.

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