Thursday, January 03, 2008

Back to school :-) Yesterday was our first day back and I will admit I was a bit reluctant to return after only a week and half off but now that I am here, wow, did I miss the kids!!

Social studies - we are starting research papers. I am quite sure I am in over my head with this project but I think my kids need to experience research from print sources. They will not be allowed to use the internet at all for this paper. They are so ingrained in the google, askjeeves, cut and paste world and I want them to really dig, learn, think, and reflect as they write. Our librarian will work with them Monday to teach them research skills. They each choose 3 countries in Europe they would like to research and gave reasons for their choices. From there, I assigned countries. Almost every student got his/her first choice.

I have tried to design the project with scaffolded parts to make it likely most will experience success. I do have some concerns with a couple of my students. I have 3 special ed kids and one major behavior problem in my class. I also have 3 who have chronic attendance problems. These will be the most challenging for me.

First -- notecards, then outline, then rough drafts... then, voila.. a final research paper!!

Part of me wanted to let them choose some topic, let this really be their own design, but I was worried with not being able to use the internet, sources might be difficult to find. Our small library is somewhat limited in its resources and I don't want that to be an issue.

Later in the year, we will do another paper, where they can choose their topic. Hopefully, this will set the stage for that experience.

My math class is finishing up the fractions chapter. YUCK!! I am as tired of it as the kids are. We are reviewing today and tomorrow with a short chapter test Monday. Their grades are overall low right now... partly due to the before break lazies, partly due to them hating fractions, and partly due to simple lack of effort on their part. They had one project before Christmas - to find a recipe, half it, and triple it.. half of my kids did not do it! they had 2 weeks to complete it but just did not bother! It is frustrating... it was a relatively easy assignment, fun... but so many of them just do not do something that must be done outside of class.

PreAlgebra is cruising right along. We are factoring monomials and they are doing GREAT. I love having a high group that just GETS IT!! I feel like we move at the speed of light in there compared to my other classes. I do feel badly sometimes that I don't take enough time to do "fun" things with them. That is my goal for this second semester. To find more activities to enrich their lessons which will be engaging and motivating.

Snow, snow, snow... we are in the mid winter gloomy days where I come to work in the dark, and often times, it is dark when I get home....

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