Monday, May 31, 2004

As I sit here on Memorial Day afternoon, listening to the rain leak through my roof and window, I must admit I am a bit melancholy. I came in to clean my room, since we have but a week and half of school left for the year. I was doing so well until I came across the Million words assignment for parents from this year and last. Reading those words from all those parents about how special their children are to them... wow... I feel so honored to be here, to touch their lives every day. What a humbling moment to think of all the times I've been less than patient, less than caring... As a teacher, we must always realize that every child, not matter how irritating, is someone else's child, and that parent feels about their child the same way I do about my own 2. They are the most important parts of my life, and such is it with all this I teach every day...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Okay... I officially throw in the towel.... my last math class, 5th hour, tried to do the activity with presorted blocks in bags. Imagine my confusion when they predicted Bag #1, which should have had 4 blue, 4 red blocks, was predicted to have yellows, and greens!! Undoubtedly, some little charmer 2nd hour decided to shuffle blocks from bag to bag. I am so angry, so mad, so hurt, so... disappointed... the time it took to sort all that stuff for that activity, to find the crayons, markers, colored pencils in the mess they left from the last project.I took time to get stuff ready for them to have a fun something to do rather than worksheets and this is the appreciation I get. I feel like giving worksheets for the rest of the year, all day every day....but then I am punishing the all for the sins of the one/few... the dilemma...
We started probability today - the weather is being uncooperative for outside stuff. 1st hour went so well with combinations and permutations - drawing ice cream cones, drawing blocks from bags... they had fun, and so did I. THEN..2nd hour..grrrrr...I swear on my grandmother's grave, there are a couple in there who just want to be difficult no matter what we do. They won't listen to instructions, follow instructions, raise their hands to speak... no matter what. By the end of the hour I was close to screaming or crying...

and then social studies where I again have the "guiltiest" of the 2nd hour crew again.. when he could not even make it through me takign attendance and passing out the map activites without disrupting twice, I gave up and sent him to detention for the class period and through AR where I have him again. It was as if a HUGE weight had been lifted. The others got right to work, settled in, and even when some finished early, they amused themselves appropriately. Can I just send him away for the rest of the year????? I am out of patience, out of desire to be patient...especially with him, and a few others.

I am calmer now, and still, I cannot fathom a way I could have created another ending to the situation. I jsut have to remember - tomorrow: clean slate, clean slate, clean slate... can I do it???

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Yipee... the track meet projects are all turned in and graded!! And, I must say overall they were done well. The majority of mistakes were not mathematical in nature, but rather they did not follow directions correctly (well, duh!!). OF course, some just did not bother. Even with 4 days in class, Paul had only one section on his poster. grrr.... and then he said it was because he didn't have enough time. grrr...some of the illustrations were awesome. One tape measure actually works, antoher group has 3-D figures. Yes I know - that is not the MATH part, but it is so invigorating to see them actually take the time to make the extra effort to turn in a project that looks professionally done.

The scuttlebutt about next year's schedule continues to wreak havoc. So far it looks as if I will still be 7th grade math but who knows what electives... going to a 7 hour day I know there will be something else piled on. And who knows what will change in the meantime...It is the not knowing that riles everyone so much..

Today... Bird's Eye View in math - so fun to watch them erase, and think, and argue, and erase, and think and argue..We will go outside if there is ever another day without rain, to measure the perimeter of the school property.I am worried about taking this crew out - they are just so impulsive, so untrustworthy, so reluctant to accept responsibility when they do make bad choices...and then we will finish the year with some probability stuff - real basic - colored blocks in bags, dice...maybe some card games, SKUNK - so at least they are exposed to some of the BIG ideas.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

As the school year winds down (9 full days, 3 halves!!!), I find myself spending more time reflecting, and less time planning. Somewhat of a relief timewise, but looking back at the things we have done in math, I feel somewhat reluctant to call the year "successful" overall. In some ways, with some topics, I feel I reached a majority of my students, at least having them more a level higher in their understanding of the topics we have covered. But on the other hand, I feel too often I have lost a chunk of them, partly due to their not being ready to learn that particular topic, due to lack of background primarily,but also other factors. I have felt impatient with them this year, as a whole. Frustrated... the discipline issues have really worn me thin. I feel almost punitive in my lesson plans for I know the consequences of lessons with less structure, with outside activities, with group work...

And then I think of the "good" kids - those who have been short-changed this year with the "worksheet addiction" routine I too often found myself slipping into.

It's not all been bad though... our "track meet" has been going well overall - after 2 days outside collecting data, most of the projects are coming along well. With me not being there Friday though, I fear what went on- the note from the sub said several had to go to computer lab...hmm... that worries me... what were they doing in there??? They had 1 laptop per group which should have been adequate to finish their charts/graphs/etc.. There are 2 posters left in the classroom - one seems close to being complete, with accurate info, clorful illustrations, etc.. the other - it is primarily a recreation of the data collected outide with little acutal computation of ratios, percents, etc... no real use of the data, and it looks as if they think it is "finished"... did they read the directions? did they look back to see that everything is done??

I don't know - I am leaning more and more towards a tracked math program... and that scares me - I have always, and still am, an advocate for inclusion. But I know next year's group may be an entirely more focusable group to work with so I think I will let that decision rest on the back burner.. I do know I want a textbook! CMP is just not cutting it with the new grade level expectations for the standards and I am tired of reinventing the wheel with each new topic we study.

9 more days in math class.... 9 more chances to touch their inner mathematical souls... is it too late?? Have I done my best with this group this year? What would I do differently had I known then what I know now?? Things to think about this cold and rainy May Sunday afternoon..

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I went with 2 other teachers to a conference yesterday - How to Deal with Difficult Non-Compliant Students. Pretty good stuff - Spencer Henry through the Bureau of Education and Research. Nothing NEW really, but a great pick-me-up refresher - would be a wonderful in-service for the week before school when you are all inspired and pumped for a new year. I came away with the same old feeling: I do some things so well, and others, BOY! do I need to work on my techniques - practice those strategies for dealing with these guys until they are AUTOMATIC.

It was great to come back and find my crew had behaved spendidly for the sub!

Later this week, I am braving the outdoors with them - we will hold a mini-track meet so we can collect some data. 4 events - a short run (70m or so) - 20 free throws - how many shots can you make in 5 minutes - bean bag toss. I tried to come up with something for everyone - I let them sign up for events today - they HAVE to be in at least 1 but no more than 2. We will collect data as they compete - the times for the run will be great for ordering decimals. The free throws will become ratios and percentages. The beanbag toss: measuring distances and converting from English to metric system and vice versa. The timed shoots - hmmm... ratios again? Not sure yet what we will do with that. THe kids are pumped! Hopefully all goes well, especially the weather - today was 45 and rainy drizzly - please let it warm up and be sunny!! And me with total laryngitis...