Here comes the SAW

Since I just finished grading them, I decided to blog about one of my favorite new teaching techniques this year…the SAW.

SAW stands for Skill Assessment Wednesday. Every week, students take this little mini-quiz of sorts on old material to keep their skills sharp. They only have about 10 minutes to complete it and it can be on anything we have learned thus far! I feel like I never review older material as well as I should so I took proactive approach this year to stopping that. Everything we learn is important and you cannot forget! I chose Wednesday because it was in the middle of the week and then the letters just happened to match up. The students always know that the last 10 minutes is going to be spent on this. I will tell my students to clear their desk and they all start shouting out “Here comes the saw!” It is pretty amusing actually. Lately, I have been putting up signs that says “SAW Today” with different pictures of saws such as a buzzsaw and a hacksaw. Soon, I will get even more creative and put up a sea-saw and Arkansas! HA! Here is an example of one that gave earlier on. This is for my lower level algebra II class. We had already covered the basics of what a mathematical model is, linear functions, and had just finished systems of equations when I gave this.

SAW Example



3 thoughts on “Here comes the SAW

  1. Hey John, Nice to meet you at MMC! I like the SAW idea to keep key skills sharp, and its amazing how giving a fun name like “SAW” to a repeating activity changes the students perception and experience with it. I was curious if your students were actually able to complete this 2 page SAW in 10 minutes,

  2. Hey Adam it was nice to meet you as well! Thanks for a really great talk, it was really informative and got my wheels turning. I actually gave my lower level algebra II kids about 15 minutes for this one. They were a couple that did finish it within 10 minutes though. Since the kids actually like this (they know its coming, has a funny name, and know it better helps them prepare for things like the final) they try pretty hard.

  3. Hi John. I had the same question as Adam about the 10 minutes. Okay, so 15 minutes. That’s good! Kids actually like and need routines because predictability is a safe bet. I really really need to do something like what you have. Because I’m doing SBG, they’re getting smaller/single-concept quizzes often, so the quarter final hits them like a ton of bricks.

    We actually use SAW as an acronym for strong, average, and weak — but the ONLY time teachers use this is at the end of the year to get an even distribution of kids for their next year’s homeroom class. Kids don’t know of SAW.

    Thank you, John.

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