Thursday, February 2, 2017

Day 103: Step Back

I'm not a fan of February.

I need to take a few steps back from my classes.  I'm finding myself snapping at them  and getting frustrated about lack of progress.  My frustration is not solidifying in a productive way.

Here are some things that I'm finding frustrating and concerning and am unable to figure out how to fix:

1) After 103 days of reading the Pledge to Improved Mathematics daily, the number of students who have them memorized is in the single digits.  This doesn't particularly annoy me, but I find it frustrating because I think it's an indicator of deeper issues.  Repeating something verbatim for 4 months should produce  memorization.

2) I ask Question A and several of the students answer Question D.  "Tell me what you notice about the angles of the intersection" received a reply of "the line go off the side of the graph."  While this is accurate, it's not what I asked about.  I have been putting considerable work into my questioning technique and feel as though I've made drastic improvements.  My questions are designed to foster synthesis of ideas and push student thinking is certain directions.  I attempt to lead down a certain path, nudging students towards the information that I want them to discover without actually presenting it.

What I'm finding is that their distraction means that they either don't notice the things that I'm asking them to notice or they are unable to understand the meaning of what they've noticed.

"Tell what you notice about the angles at the intersection."
"The lines go off the side."
"True, but I'm asking about the angles at the intersection."
"They meet at the same point."
"Yes, that's what an intersection is. What about the angles?"
"One line goes up and the other goes down."
"That's true, so what do you notice about where they intersect?"
"The one goes off the edge of the graph and the other stays near the bottom."

I'm trying very hard not to scream in frustration and I'm failing more often than I care to admit.

When I asked a student to read something off of the board today, they looked at the board and read a series of words that were not there.  This student can read, does so frequently and well.  However, immediately after my rant about how they don't read the directions, I asked someone to read the directions and they didn't.

3) I seem to be completely unable to get them to understand how Point 1 and Point 2 can be used to discover Point 3.  I also can't seem to get them to understand that when they are confused about Question 4, to look back at Question 1.

I'm sure I have a more eloquent way to put this, but I'm exhausted, partially from this situation and partially from the various issues that have come from the White House.

Roller skating tonight. I'm going to take headphones to drown out the tweeny-bopper pop music crap and maybe I'll feel better.

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