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New Year – New Syllabus

Guys, professional development starts tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  TOMORROW.

Today, I went up to school for 6ish hours to get stuff ready for kids who show up on Thursday.  I’ve given up on having my room decorated.  That can come later.  (And, by the way, I do actually have an excuse for why my room isn’t super decorated this year.  It’s a long story that I’ll tell at some point.)  I just need to be ready to introduce my students to some math-iness.  ASAP.

One of the tasks I marked off my to do list this morning was printing copies of my syllabus.  This is only my second ever syllabus.  My first syllabus happened during my first year of teaching.  That was the day I realized that I was the only teacher in the entire building who had prepared a syllabus.  The kids were looking at me like I was insane.  And, a bunch of them thought I had made up the word “syllabus” because they’d never heard of it before.  When I was in high school, every teacher gave us a syllabus.  I thought every school worked that way.  Nope…


So, for the past two years, I just haven’t bothered.  Last year, though, I introduced SBG to my classroom.  Though, to make it sound less scary and emphasize that students are required to reassess until demonstrating mastery, I call it A/B/Not Yet.  I’m definitely the only one doing SBG in my school, and this grading system led to lots of confusion and misunderstanding.  I spent lots of time talking to parents and trying to explain the system.  Their children had tried explaining the system to them, but it usually got twisted and confused beyond recognition.

Page 2 of Syllabus

This year, I decided to make a few tweaks to my A/B/Not Yet System.  And, I’ve decided to write out exactly how it works.  Hence the need for the syllabus!  I’ve decided it doesn’t matter if my students are used to syllabi or not.  I need to know that my students know how their grades will be calculated.

This syllabus turned out waaaaaaaaay longer than I intended.  But, I wanted to make sure it was thorough.  Plus, it really, really, really helped me to wrap my mind around the changes I was making by writing them out.  I condensed everything to one page (front and back).  Originally, it was a 5 page Word Document.  Nobody was going to read that.

To anyone who has been asking exactly how my A/B/Not Yet System works, here’s your answer!

Also, yesterday, I posted the page I’m going to give parents/students to sign to say they’ve read the syllabus.  When I introduce this in class, I think I’m going to assign different groups of students different sections to read, analyze, and present to the class.  Then, I’m going to have them highlight the most important sections and do some sort of syllabus synthesis page in their INBs.  Still need to plan this though…


Wednesday 17th of August 2016

Do you happen to have an editable version on your newest syllabus (15-16) that you are willing to share? Also do you have any more details about how your portfolios worked? Thank you so much. Love your site!! (I'm adapting things for 7th grade, but still so incredibly useful!!)

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Friday 18th of September 2015

It depends on the kid. Some need to come in once a week. Others every day for a short amount of time. Others only once every couple of months. I try to do 3 versions of the quiz, but I often just make up quiz questions on the spot for kids.

I'm still working on the whole portfolio idea. It's a new addition this year!


Tuesday 18th of August 2015

Sarah, Thank you for sharing the details of you SBG and retake policy. I have tried to piece it all together from your previous posts(and I got most of it), but it was nice to see your complete vision. Two questions: 1) Can you comment on the number of days or time that you/students work on re teaching and peer tutoring for helping the "not yet" kids master the content standards? Also, how many versions of each quiz do you have and how many kids are flocking to your room at all hours to retake quizzes? 2) Can you (or have you already) share what you describe in their portfolio as a concept map of the unit. I would live to see what you mean by this as a unit summary. Thank you in advance! I love your blog!

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