Entry 33 – School Has Come To An End

Entry 33 – School Has Come To An End

Today is the first official day of summer for me!  Started out with breakfast for some friends, the first swim in a long while at the lap pool (taking a break for a week from the weight lifting as I’ve had some shoulder pain), and some good time to get a lot of little tasks done that have been on the back burner for a few weeks.

My summer plans include doing some possible videography work (sent out a ton of inquiries this morning) and a trip at the end of summer to China!  Sara and I found a Groupon and we’ll be going to Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu.  Chengdu is deep China and the only place in the world where you can hold a panda bear, which has been a bucket list item for Sara for a while.  It’ll be my first trip to the Orient.


The last couple of weeks were fairly standard.  A week of review and a week of testing.  The review was OK.  I gave students a self-assessment with all of our learning objectives on it and they had to rate themselves from 1-5 on how well they remember the content.  I think gave them access to all of our unit tests and they were to copy and paste questions from those test to create their own test review based on what they gave a low self-assessment [at least three questions per unit and we had five units].  A lot of them didn’t like this.  They said they’d prefer a test review just given to them.  Not sure if they didn’t like it just because it was more work on them though.

One student did bring up a good point; she spend the first half of the week doing the self-assessment and then going through all the old tests and since she scored herself low on a lot and felt like she was just copying and pasting all of it.  She wishes she could have just been able to use the first half of the week to actually get started on the studying.


I think it was fairly effective though; I had a small percentage score below a 70 on the Pre-Algebra final exam and the average among all students was about an 80.  6th grade Math Skills struggled a bit more.  11 of 24 scored below a 70 and the average among all students was about a 68.  Perhaps I should have just gone ahead and given a final review for the 6th graders.  The final exam is 10% of their 2nd semester average so it didn’t really move the needle much for most students, maybe 2-3 points max.

Both final exams covered content from the whole year.  We didn’t do mid-terms this year and I felt that the first semester content should be a part of the ‘did you learn the basic stuff from this course’ assessment.


I typically do a fairly in depth year-end reflection.  I think I’ll just share some of the comments that came up in class debriefs we had in the last week since this blog has sort of served as a document of what worked and what didn’t this year.


I’ll be pulling coding back into robotics next year.  I plan on using ‘droneblocks‘ in some capacity since we have the DJI Mavic.  I’ll probably also nix the ‘paper-pencil’ coding activities that I did early on.  They’re kind of blah and no one really comes away with a deeper understanding of how to program.

We had an interesting discussion on how part of their grades in some projects depended on if they won a race or battle (wheelless robots and battle bots).  It ends up impacting their grade by about 1 point, but only the winner ends up being able to get the 100.  Some students loved the competition while others felt it wasn’t fair.  I do it because I feel it models real life; those who can beat out the competition with a better product will come ahead.  ‘But I tried really hard too…’ doesn’t carry much weight in the world outside of school.  Only two of the five projects were assessed like that.  Here was one of the rubrics.

Students said they’d like a little more of an idea of what I mean by ‘above and beyond’ in my rubrics.  I’m aware it’s a bit subjective, but how do you not make it subjective when a part of the assessment is the creative thought involved?  It’s only one part of the rubrics.

They love the sumo bot battles, were glad they could sort of just chat about whatever as long as they did their work, were glad they could listen to music while they worked (I don’t allow music or off-topic conversation in my math classes; I’m more lenient with this elective class though), and were stoked they could do whatever they wanted for their final project.  They were also glad that you could still get a high-A even if your robot lost the race or battles.

Pre-Algebra & Math Skills:

Students brought up that there’s all these forms to fill out (there’s only 1 form) when doing a reassessment.  I think I will stream line that process a bit for next year though where they don’t have to fill out a form if they’re coming in to reassess a test, they could just show up.  The form will be reserved for things they don’t have to come into office hours for (finishing Khan Academy homework or reassessing their blog).

They would like more options for their blog reflections; videos, slideshows, etc.

My 6th graders really struggled to advocate for themselves when they were absent.  They usually just showed up the next day and didn’t check the calendar or even email the teacher about coming in during office hours to catch up.  They could probably use a little more support even though I’m inclined to say IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY KID!

Classroom Economy:

I’m going to make a full reflection video on this on how I end the year and things that I may change next year.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading this year.  I enjoy writing these reflections and hope they can be of some value to you.  Will be posting any of my personal video work here on the blog as well as on my YouTube channel this summer.  Happy Summer!

By Thom H Gibson

I help middle school STEM teachers create meaningful & memorable experiences for their students. Teacher, podcaster, YouTuber. Two-time teacher of the year

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