# Week 17 : Student Feedback For The Semester

So last week wasn’t as in-depth of a reflection; I had made two vlogs and posted them up.  Definitely a reflection of the week (and much more engaging- it’s more fun to re-watch a video than to re-read a blog), but I hadn’t gone into the details of the week of what had worked and what hadn’t.  This week was mid-terms, got some feedback from students about the semester, and I got some gifts from students; probably the best haul to date 🙂

#### Mid-Terms

Student’s didn’t do as awesomely as I had hoped.  I still had quite a few A’s but a lot of students hovered between A’s and C’s, not many B’s.  I anticipated a bit of a struggle with some of the addition/subtraction of rational numbers since that was the last thing we did, but I was surprised by some of the other problems students were running into.  Struggles with identifying which numbers sets a number could fall into, scientific notation, and a basic integer word problem (temperature changes from 81 to -9, what’s the change in temperature- so many students put 72 degrees)

I then thought “man, I’m spending all these time to do these in-depth discussion based / inquiry driven lessons hoping that students will have a more meaningful experience with the math and a deeper understanding of the concept…but is that happening?”  Was it just poor test taking?  Was it poor questions?  Did we not spiral back to earlier concepts enough?

It was pretty disheartening.  It’s hard to fix a problem if you’re not exactly sure what’s going wrong.  Should I do a bit more direct instruction?  Should I cut off classroom discussions sooner if they’re taking too much time?  Should I assign more / less / different homework?  I don’t know.  Teaching like this is challenging.

I made an optional anonymous survey for students to fill out about the class.  I haven’t read the answer yet.  I’ll go do that now.

I’ll share what the students wrote:

What would you say is the most meaningful aspects of our class?

• I like how involved I feel as a student. For example, when we do discussion problems, you don’t just say “Here’s the answer, write it down.”, you let us give our opinions and debate the answer.
• I love the math in my own words (MiMOW) reflection journals, and I always love doing discussion problems.
• I really liked classroom economy! I loved and found a lot of value learning about how to managege our money.
• I really love how you go into WHY the things work the way they do as opposed to just – “they do it because they do!.”
• I like how all the student feel that they are an important part of class.
• I like how we try to bring our math problems to real life in class.(like cheese-its) I also like how we don’t really rush everything and we take our time to try to understand things better.
• I like how the class feels, it’s just a good environment for math!
• I think the most meaningful aspect of the class is, our class discussions. I think that as a class we can get in full detail while being respectful of everyones opinions and thoughts. I think we can get in long discussions that spark new ideas and thoughts in people heads.
• I love the way YOU collaborate with your students at office hours by supporting them and pushing them to ask questions in class :]

What is one thing you would change about our class?

• A time limit on people sharing their work
• (a lot of comments of either wanting more time for the reflection journals or just not wanting to do them)
• In our class when there is partner work one of the partners will sometimes get stuck doing all the work and the other just copies their answers, and I would like that to change.
• I’m not to in to the class economy thing.
• One thing that I would change about our class is to have more hand picked partners, instead of picking our selves because the noise can get a bit loud.
• I don’t really like when we have really long discussions where it seems that everyone wants a turn talking
• I would change, the excessive quizzes we have. I would change this because I think that if we are cramming so much information in it lacks the ability to fully process it all. I think our lessons go to fast and also are to close to each other.
• I feel like we did a lot of Khan Academy. It’s a good tool, but it can be very stressful sometimes.
• I would change the pace of class. Many times I felt as though I learned everything on the first day and we spent 3 days on it.
• I wish you would have gone a little faster.

What was the biggest challenge for you this semester?

• Trying to sit and watch someone present when they don’t understand something. IT TAKES FOREVER!!! (but, it is good that they are sharing)
• Math
• The most challenging part of this semester was trying to explain math not just understand it.
• The most challenging aspect this semester was presenting in front of my class mates on what I did for my HW, or test.

What was the most engaging aspect for you this semester?

• I really enjoyed the road trip problem. It was super challenging, but it was a great example of a real life scenario where these concepts can be utilized. I think it is important to have that, since a lot of moaning students will be saying things like “when will we ever use this in real life?” or “is this actually important?”
• The most engaging aspect of this semester was when we would take notes.
• The most engaging aspect was classroom economy.
• I liked when we argued over points on our discussion problems.
• I like how we have our math buddies.
• Our class discussions !!

What would you keep the same / change about the classroom economy?

• I wish I hadn’t spent 250 dollars on a cupcake (this made me laugh out loud)
• I’d probably make rent manually paid, so that you could be fined if you don’t pay it. I think that would add an interesting and real aspect to it.
• The bathroom must be free please, but everything else is good.

Well I know you can’t please everybody but it’s good to see patterns.  I plan on giving them more time to do their math reflection journals next semester.  I also think I’ll drop the self and peer assessment.  I found many students do a self-assessment and talk about what they could improve but then not making those improvements when given an opportunity.  I’ll encourage them to continue to do them on their own if it’s helpful to them.

I think I should be more conscientious of time during discussions.  It’s OK to cut a good discussion off after 45 min, and it’s DEFINITELY OK to cut a snore-fest discussion off.  I need to ask better, meatier questions.The plan for the break is to get a little bit ahead on the work we’ll do when we get back.

I want my class to be meaningful, I want there to be deep learning, I want everything we do to have a purpose, and I want to a better teacher in June than I am today.

My students got me some really great stuff for Christmas.

• Amazon gift cards
• A couple lottery scratch off’s (I won \$10)
• A few gift cards to book stores
• A book of humorous wrong answers students have put on tests
• A gift card to an awesome taco place
• A couple coffee mugs
• A cookie designed like a pokeball and other sweet treats

I plan on putting up a video of the last day of Robotics where students had their bots battle.  It was the most fun I’ve had at school in a while 🙂 I plan on vlogging this Christmas break as well!

##### 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