MathLand got a face lift over the summer. Every summer I edit the levels and clean up problems, but this summer, the entire Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 course got a total update featuring:
1. A three phase delivery for each level: lesson, practice, and mastery test. Yup, now to earn points for a level, students must pass a mastery test all by themselves. The mastery test contains about 5 questions that mirror the questions in the lesson. The practice problems are optional and done only if students and/or teacher feel they need more practice in order to pass the mastery test. Human help is readily available for lessons and practice, but no human help is allowed on the test.
2. An entirely electronic format. Because I am not allowed to have a printer in my classroom, I am still making massive amounts of copies from the printouts of the electronic files. However, I am one step closer to getting the levels on the web where students can access them from anywhere. They are also WAY easier for me to edit.
3. Consistent formats between levels. My mishmosh of levels was causing undue stress by me having to explain a lot of vague or missing directions and making kids have to reorient themselves on every level. Now the levels look the same, contain clear step-by-step instructions, have built in make-your-own reference sheets when needed, utilize systematic and direct instruction, and...
4. Clearly defined learning targets written in the same place on every level.
5. A "work during work time" sticker with independent study skills listed on it to help students help themselves before asking for help with math (like getting out the assignment, gathering the materials, reading the directions, identifying what is confusing, having previously completed work from that level out on their desk).
6. Each level focuses on just one skill. No more multiple skill levels that caused mass confusion when one piece was missing. Each level is one specific skill that leads up to the next one, which leads to the next one until the entire learning objective is completed. Some objectives require one level, others 4 or 5.
7. Alignment to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
I have been away from my blog for a long time, and right now I'm away from my bookshelf, but these improvements were based on and inspired by some new books I've read, and as soon as I'm back by my bookshelf, I will add them to my book list.