Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The good news first!! Since my last blog, I gave the quiz on integers. WOW!! I guess I underestimated the learning that was occuring because the students did well, mostly A's on the quiz, which is just unheard of with this group I have this year. Only 1 student "failed" with a 59%. This young man, I am thrilled he learned almsot 60% of the material!! He has been homeschooled before this year and struggles so much with almost everything we do. This grade is awesome for him!

Parent teacher conferences are Thursday, and I am excited to be going. While the math grades last marking period were somewhat low in math, grades right now are at an all-time high! While I know that grades are not the only indicator of student learning, and in fact, often not much of an indicator... it is reassuring to parents to see "high marks". I wish we could do away with grades altogether, and just teach for the sake of teaching, with students learning for want of more knowlege. Idealistic? Maybe... but I do think grades are a waste of teacher time.

I was gone last Wed, Thur, & Fri to MAMSE. Great conference. My session was OK - the room was set up for 36 people, which would have been a tight fit in itself, but there were at least 50 folks in there! We could not move about, which really limited the activities we could do. I had planned to have the people up and about actually participating in some of the activities but that was not in the cards. Still, I felt they got some useful info, and I got lots of positive feedback, which really was a boost.

Other MAMSE sessions were great - I got lots of good ideas about Survivor that we can use for 7th grade camp. Other fav's were Are you Thriving or Surviving? which was a pick-me-up, and another on math about strategies to help struggling students succeed. My best idea from there was to have students actually have math 2 hours, with the extra hour being a more hands-on approach, reinforcing the day's lesson, giving them the opportunity to get more help with topics they are struggling with, and work on basic skills.

We have spent 2 days in my class brushing up on multiplication facts - a shame in a 7th grade class - but I felt before we tried to multiply negative numbers, students needed to be able to recall the facts. I think next year we will spend a day a week or so on facts. Without fairly competent recall of these, so much of what we do is more difficult. Seeing patterns, algebraic equations, integers, etc..

Another positive - my kids were great for my sub when I was gone, what a pleasant change from last time :-) only 1 young man was a problem, and he is now suspended for a different offense. Jake was gone all 3 days :-( I didn't ask why but my guess is mom kept him home to keep him out of trouble. A commendable attempt but I think he needs to accept responsibilty for his actions...

Snow is melting - we are down to about 22 inches on the ground - after the 70 weather at MAMSE in Monroe last week it is a bit depressing looking out the window, but I know spring is on the way.

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