Summer Update

To anyone who says that teachers have it easy because they get their summers “off”:

You’re full of crap.

Other than taking 3 grad classes (one of which was with Diana Laufenberg!), taking care of my 8-months-pregnant wife and trying to get ready for a baby that will be here in a month or so, I’ve been trying to work on a few projects to get ready for next school year:

 1. Preparing for year 2 with SBG

Last spring, our district chem teachers finally got our act together and created our standards, based around our state standards being put into more student-/parent-friendly language. This summer, we’ve been working on creating a rubric for each standard that could be used on any general assessment fitting that standard. I’m getting pretty good at rubrics.

I’ve also been looking at the interplay between standards and learning targets within my own class, and how each one is assessed. In particular, re-examining my learning targets and not creating a rubric for each one (because I did that part of last year and it sucked), but doing more of a binary scoring that students keep track of and are given feedback by me. Still trying to figure out how the learning target assessments will translate into the gradebook…

2. Reading/working through Understanding by Design

At my school we are encouraged to use backwards design, which is used throughout our IB program (even though I don’t teach any IB classes). Other than an hour or so introduction to BD when I started 2 years ago, we haven’t gotten much guidance to really use it effectively and on an ongoing basis. Also, we are the only IB high school in our district, so getting other teachers on board with using IB stuff is often difficult. I’m still working my way through it, but I have been enjoying reading about the philosophical aspects of understanding and how that plays out in designing curriculum. Since we’re getting new textbooks this year for our lower chemistry classes across the district, I figured now was as good of a time as any to start figuring it out and trying to get some collaboration with it.

3. Reading about modeling chem

I only taught one section of general (traditional) chemistry last year, and I was not very happy with it. I wasn’t involved much in the planning of it because I was more focused on the lower chem classes that I alone was teaching. I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make it better for me and for the students. I would love to attend a modeling chem workshop; maybe next summer?

4. Reading blogs

I feel like my Google Reader feed is never empty, and I always have at least one browser window open with a bunch of things I want to read. Oy vey!

5. Reading books

I’ve got a pile of them, physically and digitally. I also have a couple more book review drafts that I would like to finish, so hopefully I’ll find some time to finish those and get them posted here (finally).

6. Trying to have a life?

Ha! Maybe someday…