Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 22: A Long Day

I had planned to start geometry on constructions today, but they were asking good questions on the homework, which lead to further discussion and good questions, so I put it off until tomorrow.  I've also decided that I'm not going to walk them through the guided notes.  Instead, I'm going to assign them as homework and then go over them quickly in class to make sure they have what I want.  This was effective for the last few sections and I think I'll continue it.

Pressure is starting to mount to give them grades.  Part of it is them, but most of it is administrative.  Our progress report grades are due at the end of the week so I REALLY need to grade the two projects that they've turned in so far.  We are also going to have a quiz tomorrow so I can see what they've retained from the last few weeks.  I think it will be open note, but individual.

In the pre-algebra class, I collected all of the worksheets for the chapter together in a booklet that the kids carry.  It helps them minimize the number of things they have to keep track of.  We don't do all of them and so far this year, between homework and classwork, I've assigned about 35 pages.  When they are taking their quiz tomorrow, I'll check for 25 pages and give them an arbitrary grade accordingly.

I gave them  a practice quiz today, which they took individually.  After that, I had them get into pairs, compare answers and convince their partner that the answer they received was right.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well this worked.  As a circulated through the room, there was a ton of good discussion happening.  Two students got into a heated argument about which answer was right and after watching for a minute or two, I stepped in.

Me: "What's the problem?"
S1: "I got 14, but she got -14. Which of us is right?"
Me: "Is there a way for you to see which of you is right without having to ask me?"
S1: "NO! That's why I'm asking!"
S2: "We could plug it in, dummy!"
Me: "What do you think, dummy? Do you think you could plug it in and see if it's right?"
S1: "...Oh yeah!! I AM a dummy!"
Me: "We're all dummies, even me. We're here to try to be less so! You got it now?"
S1: "Yeah. Thanks, dummy!"
Me: "Don't thank me. Thank your partner."

I REALLY need to get my Standards-Based Grading system up and running ASAP.  I am having more and more trouble justifying the traditional grading system.

Students are showing proficiency in one area and deficiency in another, unrelated area and I'm supposed to average those into an appropriate letter grade?  A test grade could go from A to B by switching one question in one topic.  That doesn't sit right with me.

The majority of people who I think read this blog have only recently met me and don't know what kind of teacher I used to be.  I think it would shock them as much as my current coworkers are shocked by the change that I underwent after attending Twitter Math Camp this summer.  My educational worldview is drastically different and is much more fluid, evolving daily.  It's a weird feeling for someone as stubborn and set in my ways as I am.

I find myself getting WAY off track in my last class of the day.  These kids aren't any more or less interesting, so I'm going to attribute this fact to the idea that by the time that class rolls around, I'm very tired of trying to keep everyone on task.  We get done what we need to do, but bringing them (and myself) back to task is a struggle.

Tonight is Open House.  I expect a very high turnout for parents of my Geometry class and mid to low turnout for the rest.  I always have difficulty getting parents to understand that Back To School Night is different than conference night.  You're not here to find out how your kid is doing.  We might be able to talk about it if we get a private minute, but they are here to find out about the school and meet the teachers.

I'm pretty interested to see how the parents react when, if even 3/4 of them show up, they can't fit in the classroom...

"Welcome to my class. Please have a seat...oh...uh..."

Final Thoughts:

Quote from a very dark-skinned African American student: "I try not to have black friends outside of school.  They get me into trouble."

I got my next batch of guided notes for geometry from our printer.  I'm excited.  It's like Christmas, right?
Looks "pulsar pink" to me!

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