Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day 136: PSSA Day 5

These are the tests that neveeeer eeeeeend! Yes, they go on and on MYYY FRIIIEEEEEEND!  **Everybody sing with me!**
Some people started taking them, not knowing really why! And they'll continue taking them until everyone cries!
**insert joke about puppets, proctoring and proctology**
After my near melt-down yesterday, I thought long and hard about solutions.  I had some great conversations with some amazing people on Twitter that helped me to clarify my goals and ways that I can achieve those goals.  I spoke with my principal about specific students and my plans for them and she supported my choices.

I am desperate to not make decisions out of anger this year, so having the night to think it over, I've made some choices that I think will be educationally beneficial to my pre-algebra students.

I put the room back in rows and assigned seats.  The choice to go back to rows was a difficult one because I don't feel it's the best way for students to learn, but until the behavior gets under control, no one is learning anyway.

It was...


The lesson for pre-algebra was VERY basic. (What is 30% of 50?)  I kept the lights off, and started with a basic question.

"You go into a store to buy a $30 shirt.  When you get there, you find that it's on sale for 20% off.  How much are you going to pay for it?"

We had a good discussion about what 20% off actually means and if, depending on how you think about it, would it make more sense to find the new price first, or find the amount of the discount and then subtract from the original.

We spent some time as a group going over setting up proportions and I kept reminding them that this is what we've been doing for a few months now.  90% of the students were engaged. Whose who didn't have their books were writing things of pieces of paper.  As I called on random students to give me answers, others yelled out to show that they knew it too.

They were arguing over who got to answer and were asking good clarifying questions.  It was as though it was a completely different class.  I wonder if they read my blog yesterday...

After we did several problems as a group, I gave them a short break and then an individual assignment that we would go over at the end of the period.  Most of them worked very well on it and I made sure to shower praise for their efforts.

In period 8/9, I had to remove three students in the first 5 minutes.  After that, I had an almost identical experience to period 4/5.  Students were engaged and participating.  They weren't afraid to answer questions when they were unsure.  They were willing to take risks by volunteering and were disappointed when someone answered before they did.

In both classes, the atmosphere was positive, supportive, energetic and happy.

This is the point where every teacher reading this will say, out loud, "Well DUH!"

The removal of one or two students will completely change the dynamics of a class.

A part of me is trying to be upset about having a day of direct instruction, but I'm going to push that away and bask in the glow of an amazing day!

Middle school students are fickle.  I'll happily take it though.  Today gave me hope and renewed some of my energy.

Today was a great day!

And then I got interviewed by a reporter at the New York Times.  I'd better go to bed now before I jinx everything!


  1. Soo very glad you had the kind of day that reminds you that you do really like teaching, and that students can learn in your classroom. I know how important those can be to those of us who teach in challenging environments.

  2. It is days like THESE that keep you coming back. I call it the "crack cocaine" of teaching. You remember how you feel on days like this, and it keeps you coming back in hopes of more. And you work, and you work, and you work, and voila! Another day like this....and even better! :)

    1. Agreed. Even if they weren't doing higher order tasks the way I want them to, it's step in the right direction and DOESN'T feel like a step back!

  3. This made me so happy. I felt for you yesterday. I know how hard you work for those kids.

  4. "Precision and persistence, biatches," said Mr. Justin Aion, a middle school teacher whose popular blog has become required reading in schools across the country. "Mathematical practices all up in the hizouse, we got to preach it. I preach mathematical practices when I get up in the morning, and I preach mathematical practices when I go to bed at night. My students know they got to explain, 'cause it's the journey, not the destination, know what I'm sayin'?"
    Not everyone agrees with Michael. "The Common Core is an evil plot to turn our children into welfare recipients," said Mr. Orson Scott Card, a science-fiction-novelist-turned-right-wing-nutjob.

  5. On a completely unrelated topic, The whole Orson Scott Card reveal letting the world know exactly who he was, was a major disappointment to those people who've read and appreciated him from a time before some of you were born. And now on a related topic, congratulations on such a great day.

    1. I probably thought of Orson Scott Card because I recently read this article by an OSC fan who puts this disappointment you speak of in perspective:


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