|I honestly have no idea why the numbers in my world are so violent...|
I managed to only spend 20 minutes of geometry talking about space-time and the nature of the universe.
I planned to do Buffon's Needle with all of my classes today. I wanted to use frozen hotdogs just so that I could have that be the title of the blog. It is, however, to know our students and, upon some serious reflection, I decided that frozen hotdogs would be more of a liability than an asset.
So I used chalk.
The geometry kids got really into it and we had a good discussion about statistical anomalies and the value of multiple trials.
I am still missing assignments from MANY of those kids and their parents are starting to notice the zeroes on their online grades. The Chapter 5 solution guides were due three weeks ago and more than half of them still haven't come in. I don't mind work coming in late, provided they are using that time to improve the quality. From what I've seen, that has not been the case.
The pre-algebra kids took a quiz today before moving on to the next section. They were allowed to work in groups, but each person had to turn in their own.
7 students decided it would be a better use of their time to not do the quiz. It sure made it easy to grade!
I think that, after the horrible day I had on Wednesday, my mind is overcompensating and swung me hard into indifference. This is not a good place to be for a teacher, especially one who cares about improving their craft.
It feels very much like a defense mechanism. I have been trying for 120 days to get these kids to care about their futures, their learning, their effort, their...anything. I have come to a conclusion.
I don't know how to make kids care.
The ones who do, I can be a very effective teacher. I can work with anyone who wants to learn something and I can use personal interests to bring in those on the fence.
As far as I can tell, there are four major motivations for students working:
- I want to learn
- I want the approval/respect of my parents/teachers
- I want good grades for me
- I don't want to get yelled at for bad grades
I think a great teacher can spark curiosity in their students, moving them from numbers 3 or 4 to number 1, or at least number 2.
I can't even identify where some of my students are on this list, so my ability to move them is minimal.
On a more content-related note, I think I have successfully cured my pre-algebra students of using "cross-multiply." When we started proportions, I heard it with every other problem. Now, I don't think I've heard it in over a week. What I'm hearing instead is "don't we multiply 15 to both sides?"
If nothing else, I consider this a massive victory. If you don't know why, check out Nix The Tricks.
I have noticed that they head towards specific tactics, not just as individuals, but as a class.
Students: "We don't want the x on the bottom. So let's take the reciprocal of both sides."
Me: "Do we have to do that?"
S: "No. We could multiply x on both sides, but it's easier to flip them."
Then the interesting stuff started showing up.
S: "Can I move the x to the other side?"
Me: "What do you mean?"
S: "It's easier for me if the x is on the right instead of the left."
Me: "Show me."
Me: "Why can you do this?"
S: "The equal sign is a balance and both sides are the same so we can switch them if we want."
Me: "Fair enough. What's next?"
S: "Then we multiply by 6 on both sides so the 6's cancel out and simplify."
They get the concepts and, from what I can tell, they understand the underlying math. What I don't understand is why they (as a class) feel the need to move the variable to right side of the equation.