Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Evolution of the BAM

I had gone into this school year with a couple goals in mind. First, I wanted to try my hand at flipping a classroom. Or, at least, students getting their direct learning through videos instead of me lecturing. Second, I wanted to give my students more freedom. Freedom to move around the classroom, freedom to sit where they wanted, freedom to work with whomever them deemed helpful, etc. Lastly, I wanted a classroom that gave my students choices. Gone will be the days that all students tackle the same problems, because let's face it, the are all not at the same place in their learning.

At the beginning of the school year I came up with a progression into giving the students a choice in their assignments. I invented something I lovingly refer to as the BAM or Benchmark Assessment Map. At first, it was just a way from the students to know and visualize what they would be doing throughout the unit. It was self-paced and by the end of the unit the students were trained that once they finished a task they marked it off and moved along.
The student's first BAM over Forces that Shape the Earth.
I duplicated this type of BAM for one more unit over rocks. This BAM was great for developing independence in the classroom as well as organization while trying to convince the students that online learning was the way to go. However, student buy-in for these types of BAMs were pretty low. And the buy-in coupled with trying to ween students off a seating chart led to some pretty low grades the first quarter. I then stumbled upon a choice board of Pinterest that gave me an idea of a Tic-Tac-Toe BAM. The students could pick their assignments after watching their lecture videos. I even made a second version for my SPED and ELL population that focused more on vocabulary building and basic understanding.
Modified BAM for Ocean Unit


These BAMs were decent in terms of student participation but I wanted more. I wanted something to do with students' learning styles. I also wanted a choice sheet that had different levels of difficulty so students could challenge themselves as they saw fit. After doing some more research I had found a couple places that were meshing the two ideas of learning styles and Blooms Taxonomy. I finally found this one (here) that was exactly what I had been after! I fell in love. I gave the students points to achieve by the due date but they got to choose the way the got the points. 

I did have to place some rules down. First, the students had to complete the pre-work (lecture videos and notes) before they could begin any of the assignments. They could work with whoever they wanted as long as they were working. Students were not allowed to come to me first. They had to ask at least three other people before they could ask me. I gave them a deadline for all projects to be turned in, after to deadline there would be a test. I would not accept any assignments after the test. 

Overall, I feel good about how the BAM had turned out this year but I still have some kinks to work out in the system. First, I am still in need of a turn in system. Where I love Schoology and how it has changed my teaching practice, it is so slow when uploading assignments that have been turned in online. Like, to the point I could have graded three paper foldables in the time it took me to open one. Second, I did still have students that chose to sit and cruise with their friends. I had one particular group of gentlemen that took a week to complete a crossword puzzle. Part of me says, "Hey. You can't win them all." and the other part of me is super irritated that they would goof off. In the words of Elsa, "Let it goooooo". Anyways, I think the last thing is alignment of tasks to standards. Where I feel like most assignments covered the basic concepts, I feel like they sometimes didn't go deep enough for what they are tested on. 

Well, the year is not over yet. Maybe I will figure it out before summer! 

Mrs. C








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