Experimenting with a bit of stick-making (subtitle: freshmen are flexible but seniors are STRESSED)

I am doing a few “Make it Stick” style experiments this semester (even though I’m only one chapter into the book; it’s amazing how things percolate through the PLN…). The biggest one I’m trying is regular low-stakes quizzes, combined with slightly lagged homework and assessment (which may not actually be from Make It Stick).

I meet each of my classes four times out of every seven days (it’s crazy) for 80 minutes. I’ve started 8-minute, usually two-question quizzes in every class, every day. The quizzes cover the topic from the class two or three meetings earlier (two for geometry, three for stat).

The one from geometry today looked like this:

These are low-stakes. In geometry, where I am still using standards based grading this semester, they count as the first step toward each learning goal, which means a bad score on them will be almost completely wiped out by the score on those standard from later, more “serious” assessments. They are therefore semi-formative, since it helps the students (and me) figure out what they know and don’t know (though if they don’t act on it and the grade stays low, well…) For the seniors in AP Stat (who generally get 1 multiple choice question and basically one part of a free response question on their 8 minutes), I am using a more traditional grade book this quarter, but all of the quizzes together will be 10% of their quarter grade, which means each one is worth about half a point in the grand scheme.

I have only been doing it for about 3 classes, so I certainly don’t have any evidence yet to see if having this sort of daily quizzing is helping them learn, but I’m seeing some good use of it in meta-cognition already. After my whole stat class bombed the first two-question quiz because they memorized how to CHECK the conditions for sample proportion inference, but not the REASON for any of them, I’m sure they won’t make that mistake again.

As mentioned, I’m also doing homework a little differently, at least in stat. In geometry, I’m currently using CPM’s homework, which already does spiraling and lagging of difficult ideas, so I’m using that as is, but in AP stat I’m assigning homework problems focused on the material from one day earlier. So for each topic they basically get “Day 1 – Lesson on topic. Day 2 – new material in class, but homework assigned from topic. Day 3 – no mention of topic (providing time for homework clarifications and questions, making more connections). Day 4 – Quiz on topic.” So each lesson’s practice/thought is spread over several days. Which, because of our schedule, is about a week and a half.

This also means I will be lagging the big summative assessment at the end of each chapter, to ensure they’ve had time to do homework and think about all topics. In class, in the mean time, I move on to the next chapter. To make this less frustrating, I’m making sure the first lesson (or two in some cases) of each new chapter starts by pointing out the connections from one to the other. That’s easy in stat right now, since sampling distributions -> confidence intervals -> one-variable inference -> two-variable inference could really all be one giant chapter anyway.

Reactions? Well, the freshmen really like it. The seniors seem to be mostly hating it. Which is basically true for every new thing I ever try ever, so, whatever. In general, I find that freshmen are so much more willing to try new things to see if they can, well, make it stick. Seniors really do think they know everything (spoiler: they don’t).

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