My initial question for today was "If math were a fruit or vegetable, which would it be and why?" but when I began the picture, my bowl of fruit was SO awful that I erased the whole thing and came up with a different question.
"Pizza because you can put whatever you want on it, but they all start out with the same base."
"Alphabet soup because it's full of letters."
"Sour Patch Kids because it starts out sour and then gets sweet."
"Veggies because even if you don't like them, they are good for you."
"Tofu because it's pretty bland but you can do so much with it."
In geometry, we are finishing up the chapter by going over some proofs of line segments and angles. Dull stuff, but we talked about it getting them in the habit of doing proofs for less intuitive things.
After a review of the homework in pre-algebra, the students took a quiz on fraction operations. I was trying out a new format with them because on all of the homework so far, they've been putting the problems in the calculator. This isn't an issue except that I want them to understand what's happening inside the calculator.
I took a testing idea from Frank Noschese and modified it with a suggestion from the lovely Sadie Estrella. I gave them 8 problems (like and unlike fractions with each of the 4 operations) with the answers. The directions were to show the work that justified the answer. That was, I was testing on the concepts rather than the calculations.
In the last two problems, I gave them a fraction and asked them to come up with a multiplication problem and a division problem where that fraction would be the answer.
In my first class, 3 kids flat out refused to even attempt the test. One girl put hers away and then, while making defiant eye contact with me, told me that she wasn't done with it yet. When I explained that she would not be leaving my room with the test in her possession and that if she needed to spend her lunch period with me, that would happen, she gave it back pretty quickly.
Several students left many of the problems blank and, even having the directions explained to them several times in different ways, claimed to have no idea what they were supposed to do.
Last year, I would have taken my frustration at this out on the students, but this year, it makes me question the efficacy of tests at all. All of the kids who refused to work or left problems blank have been giving full effort for our class work for the past few days and have been doing an excellent job. I reminded them of that and the general reply was "I know. I just don't want to do this."
I will be making some phone calls tonight.
The same two girls who had to be removed from class last Friday for being a disruption had to be removed again today. Instead of sending them to the office, I put them outside the room to cool off until I was able to talk to them. Every time I went to do so, they interrupted me by screaming about how they didn't do anything. I think the record was 4 words out of my mouth before I was shouted down. So I went back inside and tried again in a few minutes. Same deal. And then again.
I hate kicking kids out because it's not effective, but as a direct result of these girls, whose parents are unreachable, the other students are unable to do anything. We have had meetings with guidance and the principals, but there is no change. I would like to be able to help them, but I don't think that I have the ability to do so. I certainly don't seem to have to patience.
Today was an insane day for behavior. Lots of teachers were out and I think there were 3 fights. Kids were rude and disrespectful in ways I don't normally see. My last class, even after the removal of the two girls, was bouncing off the walls. Last year, I was told that I should try more interactive activities in my class, that I should be more lenient. I responded by saying that it wasn't possible, that the kids would take any inch of freedom and run amok with it. This is why we don't have recess at my school. The kids have shown repeatedly that with any amount of free time, they start punching each other.
This year, I think my activities have been very successful. I don't know how much learning is happening and, after the assessment disaster in pre-algebra today, I think it's not much, but my room was a better place to be.
Today, my last class did exactly what last-year me said they would do and it enrages me beyond words. I have done so much to make my classroom an enjoyable place to be where they don't sit and copy notes for 90 minutes, where they can collaborate with their peers to create the best learning environment and the behavior today, and increasingly over the past few weeks, felt like a slap in the face.
Last-year me would have punished the entire class, making them work silently and independently, emphasizing everything I do for them by taking it away. He would have given them a speech about the opportunities that they are squandering. He got VERY good at that speech.
This-year me is VERY frustrated and glad that it's Friday so he can spend the weekend trying to figure out what to do. It is consistently the same students and I honestly don't believe that they can benefit from staying in my classroom.
I am at a loss and I will think about this over the weekend.
I would appreciate any input that is offered and I will try my very best not to be contrary.