Parent teacher conferences were last night. While the tone of the conversations was the same, the information I was able to convey to parents was very different.
In the past, when students were struggling, I’d say something along the lines of “they need to complete their homework and come in for help”. This year my comments were more focused, “She is having difficulty solving word problems involving percents” or “He is struggling with solving systems of equations.”
While I’ve always thought I knew my students relatively well, I now feel that I better know on what specific skills they need to work.
And I’ve been trying to figure out why. I haven’t (yet) gone to a skills based assessment system. I’m not doing things too differently than I have in the past. I’ve always worked with backwards design – what do I want them to be able to do at the end of this unit and how will I know if they know it. I think I’m finally to a point where I have a very specific goal in mind for each lesson. I then adjust the next day’s lesson based upon what they were able to do (or not do) today. This means I do a lot of work each night preparing for the next day. While I plan ahead for the week, it is definitely done in pencil.