I made some adjustments to grudgeball based on some of the issues that I had last unit.
Each team had to take turns answering and shooting and no team member was allowed to do either twice before everyone on their team had taken a turn. This noticeably increased class engagement in all of my classes, but it was especially evident in my middle block. In a previous unit they had been the least interested in the review game, but this time every single student was working and trying the problems. They talked to their teams about solutions when it was their turn and worked together. It went very smoothly.
I also tried to make the game more interesting by introducing new rules each round. This was inspired by the fact that many teams were playing too safely. No one wanted to start anything and everyone took from me. In the past I have just forced them to steal, but I was trying to be more creative this round. Instead of forcing them, I incentivized point theft by telling students they would get an extra 5 bonus points if they stole instead of taking from the bank. (Me.) In another round I doubled the point values for harder to make shots but took away their guaranteed “10 points because you got it right” if they missed. No one was brave that round. When I had a very lopsided game in middle block I implemented a “blue shell” rule, and forced all teams not only to steal, but to steal from whichever team was currently in first place. This led to some great strategies from students. One team in second place, who clearly knew the answer, told me they didn’t know because winning would put them in first place and then they would be the target of theft. That team ended up winning when they sunk a 50 point shot. It was a great game.
My final class is still struggling with noise level and appropriate behavior. I need to tighten up with them. What works for my first two blocks is not working as well for the third. But I am still able to get them to settle down, so it is not like last semester where it is wild no matter what I do.
I really want to see some higher scores tomorrow but I am afraid it is going to be the same old pattern. I am doing the best that I can as a first year teacher of “remedial” algebra, but it is discouraging to have the majority of the class fail unit test after unit test. Based on how the classes did in the review games today I would expect most students to do well, but that hasn’t been the pattern so far. Maybe that’s just how it goes or maybe that’s just how it goes for first year teachers or I’m not sure.
In spite of this, I have felt really good lately, like I have started to find my groove. I passed my SAFE-T and SLO evaluations today as. Although I think those evaluations are flawed measures of teaching, it is nice to pass the things that I need to pass in order to keep my job.
Thanks for reading.