Week 5

This week, I started a new routine. Slow down, cut the sections in half, review, assess. I also used notes from the notetaking guide provided with our textbook resources instead of using my own. I still created my PowerPoint to teach from, but the notes were different.

My lessons are still boring. I present them in an interesting way and we do games and construction and hands on activities, but the content itself is not engaging.

I started out the week teaching the distributive property using area. The kids liked it and thought it was easy. We even worked backwards and introduced factoring! But by the time Friday came around and we were quizzing over it, everybody totally forgot what we were doing! We spent all of Thursday playing Review Basketball which was fun and seemed to go over well. We played the class against me, although I am reigning champion for 3rd hour and 7th hour! Go me! But the game worked well, students worked quickly and competitively. I also included Name That Celebrity trivia which was interesting. Friday before the quiz, I gave them an identical problem from each section on the quiz that we worked together in class. I even left them on the board so they could look back. Still, they did not perform anywhere near where I expected and the test seemed to be longer and harder than intended.

On the other hand, my geometry test seemed almost simple and students finished it quickly. I need balance!

Wednesday was a short day which really kind of screwed up my schedule. I had 1-3 hours only. We did problem solving games. WIth my 1st hour, I tried the game 24. It was interesting. My class split into 4 girls and 4 boys for teams. The girls did fine and were competitive. The boys...oh my the boys...they argued over who got the answer first, if the answer was right, who had more cards, etc.... I couldn't believe how crazy they got. Anyway, our short day was for a School Improvement meeting and one of the new teachers got to explain to everyone how to auto generate a test using our student tracking program. Guess who it was???? So obviously you guessed me because you don't know any other teachers at my school! lol I created a handout with step-by-step instructions and screen captures of every screen. I know no one is really listening or remembering so I figured I would just make it as easy as possible to do on their own time. I got a lot of compliments on my hand out and 'presentation' (me rambling and pointing for approximately 5 minutes) but I think they just liked me because I was the end. =)

This week I also started a notebook about my students. I jot down funny things they say or things that I observe about them. I also make notes on lessons and ideas and if they went well or not. In addition, I am documenting issues/conversations with students/parents for future reference. I meant for this blog to be that notebook, and it is, to an extent. But some things I don't want to share with the world about my students, and plus, it's just quicker for me to write them down and move on.

I feel like my curriculum in algebra is jumping around all over the place. I created my own content list over the summer but now it kind of doesn't make sense and there are new things I want to incorporate that I don't exactly know where to put. I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR. Then I will know a little bit more about what the heck I am doing.

I've also started after-school tutoring on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to handle it. Currently, I am working every day at school until 5:00. My tutoring is 3-5:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays which obviously cuts into my working time. So far though, I've only had 2 students show up for session 1 which is from 3:00- to 4:00. Luckily, I've used the things I've done in the classroom with them and it has worked out well, so no extra planning is necessary. How can I entice high school students to stay for help after school? I'd basically have to bribe them with money, food, toys, or better grades. Not sure how I feel about any of those at the moment. Some kids definitely need the help, but there is such a stigma around the whole after school thing. More on this later.

This week, I have to go to the board meeting and meet the board members since I am a new hire. I already know all of them but one so I'm not nervous.

We have our first after school Student Council meeting this week. We are having elections for officers, organizing our first fundraiser, and promoting our first service project. Exciting times. I really like the idea of after school meetings but for the record, it's very complicated. Everyone on the council is either a cheerleader/basketball or softball/baseball player where our meetings interfere with their practices. But we've decided to be a council who actually does things and there is just not enough time in the school day to make that happen. In case you were looking, we have a great fall fundraising idea! We are buying baby pumpkins (about $.20 each) and we are going to sell them! It's called "Pumpkin for Your Pumpkin". Cute, I know. (Alternative title: "Send a Baby to Your Boo" lololololololol) Students can order a baby p for $1.50 and we will decorate and send it to whoever they choose with a message. We'll have little cards to write a message on and tie them on the stem of the decorated pumpkin with curly ribbon. I can't wait! At Valentine's Day, we sell balloons and carnations for the same principle, so we thought this would be a great idea for a fall version. One of our teachers raises pumpkins so we are helping to support her as well. Everyone wins!

D-slips went out this week. I gave 6 out of 67 students. So 9% of my students are failing. I suppose it's not too bad considering a D is a 76!! What?!! When I was in school, that was a high C and now it's failing! Oh no, I'm getting old! (Cue ominous music...) I just started a sentence with "when I was in school". Ahhhhh! On the serious side though, my goal for my first year of teaching is to have NO STUDENT FAIL. I have already given them this speech and told them they have no excuse for failing because they now have me as a teacher. =)

I've just decided (and that literally means this idea just now popped [lol I typed pooped first] into my head ) to start a weekly reflection question for myself. Here's what I will be pondering during my SIXTH week of school (I can already tell this year will fly by):

How can I make learning rewarding? How can I show students that learning is the reward as well as the work? I love love LOVE to learn and share new knowledge with others, on any topic. How can I pass that on to them? How can I portray the passion I feel for learning?


  1. My school's grading scale is equally ridiculous...an 84% is a C! I was so excited when my calc student only missed 2 questions on a quiz, but then I calculated the percent and he had a solid C.

    Good luck with week 6! I can't believe it's already mid-1st Quarter (I'm starting week 5).

  2. Using % correct to determine grades is rather arbitrary. You then have to adjust the difficulty of the questions to get the results you want.

    A lot of engineering classes in college aim for 50% as the median grade, with a large spread so that the test provides as much information as possible about student progress. On those scales 40% is still a C and 60% a B.

    I think it does a disservice to the top students to make As require making no errors. There is also not a lot of point in having so many easy questions that failing students still get 60% of them.

  3. Kevin,
    I don't really understand your comment. How do you think grading and assessment should work? Why shouldn't making A's require no errors? Could you elaborate?

  4. I like the notebook about your students idea. That's something I definitely plan to do, keep a written record of basically anything as a support of sorts.

    In terms of enticing students to stay after school, is considering extra credit out of the questions? Sure, they may just come for the extra credit, but at least they'll be there! But I do assume it's more complicated than that :)

  5. J.S.

    The notebook idea is free professional development: gathering and analyzing data + self-reflection.

    My personal problem with extra credit is that I offer so much already that they wouldn't see a need to stay after school to earn more. It's easy enough to get in class.

  6. Good luck with that failing thing. Remember, even Jesus had one failure among his students.

  7. dkzody,
    True. But even though Jesus knew he would fail, He loved him just the same and believed until the very last moment that He could change.

    Goals are never a bad thing. :)