Friday, December 05, 2008

Today's math lesson is one of my favorite all year. Most of it is really a quick review of Measures of Central Tendency: mean, mode, and median, but I love the kids being so up and engaged and THINKING about how to work as a group to solve problems. I wish I could come up with more ways to create these scenarios in class.

It was interesting 4th hour especially. I invited the special ed teacher to bring his 10 students to join us. Those kids have never had me in class, so joining us for such a rambunctious experiment had to be overwhelming and intimidating. However, overall, it went well. I am not sure "all" of them got "all" of the lesson, but hopefully a little debriefing will cement the top ideas for the ones still struggling.

Another interesting thing today..... HH, at the very beginning of 4th hour, catches me in the hall, after having had me first hour for social studies, and 2nd hour for math, and then having had time during seminar to come talk to me. He was in a panic. Apparently, HH had checked his grades and seen that his math grade has fallen back into the failing zone. He actually thought I was going to STOP EVERYTHING else RIGHT THEN AND THERE and give him some extra credit (I do not give extra credit ever) or let him redo a quiz or SOMETHING because suddenly now he cares about his grade. Why the sudden concern? He will be ineligible to play basketball again! Well, unfortunately for him, Mrs. George doesn't work that way. I told him I didn't have time to even discuss it with him because I had a class to teach, and walked into my room, closing my door behind me, leaving him standing there, mouth agape.

Before you think me callous and uncaring, HH has already sat the bench much of basketball season because he is constantly failing one or more classes, sometimes my classes, sometimes others. Unfortunately, he doesn't understand, or want to understand, that the way to playing basketball is working hard in class EVERY day, not just when his grade fails below that magical 60%.

HH thinks he is the ONLY student his teachers are responsible for. He thinks it is ok to waste time in class day after day, fail test after test, but that in spite of those efforts on his part, we should find a way to make him pass.

Today, we had a little exit quiz which should have been super easy, and for most students, was. Students had to simply define mean, mode, median, and answer one question comparing a stem and leaf plot to a line plot. HH scored a 25% on his. These are concepts students have had in previous years, and concepts we discussed at great length during the activity today. However, HH spent the class period causing disruptions, touching other people as they walked by, playing with the blocks he was using for our experiment, etc... I was not surprised by his score, but he was when he saw the impact it had on his grade.

HH popped back into my room during my prep, interrupting my conversation with another teacher, asking me if I was going to be there after school because, "we have to do something about my grade". When I told him that I do not stay late on Friday's, he sulked away.

He wouldn't have done any better retaking the quiz without some further instruction on my part, or some studying on his, and even if it seems somewhat cruel on my part, I think he NEEDS to sit the bench during tomorrow's basketball game.

Not only is his math grade in dire straits, his language arts grade is at 45%. Once I grade his European powerpoint he has been avoiding working on for the past week, most likely his social studies grade will fall into the red zone as well. However, during work time, he is not concerned about that, preferring to talk, bother others, and avoid researching his country.

It is so frustrating to try to help students like HH see that he CAN do the work. He simply must CHOOSE to do it consistently instead of when it suddenly becomes important to HIM.

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