Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 130: Fresh Air

I went to EdCamp South Jersey this weekend.  It was a 350 mile drive to attend a voluntary professional development conference and it was worth every mile.

I met some amazing people, had incredible discussions and came away with some very productive ideas.

More importantly, it helped me to find my energy again.  There is nothing more energizing than speaking people who share your passions.

I came in this morning ready to be a teacher again.

In Math 8, we continued our discussion of transformations.  The front facing desks seem to still be working well and were appropriate for the activity today.  I want them thinking more about visualization of shapes and their transformations so I pitted the classes against each other in a competition that they didn't know about until afterwards.

On the front board, I called up a game from Math Playground.  For 18 levels, the students were give 2 congruent shapes on the coordinate plane and had to determine what transformations were needed to make them coincide.  The majority of the class was highly engaged and were excited to see how the other class would do.

We finished game just before the first period ended.  When they came back from break, we opened up the notebooks and looked at the connections between the game and the notation.  We talked changing phrases like "move to the right 2 spaces and down 5 spaces" to (x, y) -> (x+2, y-5).

With very few exceptions, the group was receptive and, while the class felt more traditional than I've been using lately, it was a success.  I'll take that any day of the week.

The second class took longer and earned a lower score, but they demonstrated perseverance to complete the task and I gave them high praise for it.

In Geometry, we had a chat.  I reminded them again that brains alone wouldn't carry them through life even though the school system has pretended that they would.  The tests that they took on Friday were...disappointing.

I know that they know the material, but there were dozens of excuses ranging from "I just forgot what that meant" to "I didn't have a calculator."

So I handed the tests back and had them recycle them.  They could redo each question on a separate sheet of paper.

"I know that you know this stuff, but knowing isn't enough.  I need you to show me."

I asked if they had questions and I asked if they felt it was fair.  They agreed that it was.  Then they got to work.

They are a great group of kids, but sometimes it seems as though no one has ever asked them to work hard before.  I know they will flourish and I hope that I'm able to help along that road.

They didn't finish it.  A 20 question test on material that we've been discussing for several weeks and now, with almost 2 hours in, they were unable to finish.  This group in particular is fairly bad at time management.  I'm not sure how to fix this.  We routinely have a large percentage of the class not finish their assessments no matter how much or little time I give them.

They were working hard, too.  I don't know what to do...

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