I did something today I am ashamed of, the very thing I always hated when my teachers did to my classes. I punished them all for the evils of some. Granted, it was a majority.... but I shouldn't have done it.
A couple of weeks ago, as part of a grant program, I received a new wireless chalkboard. The kids have been all geeked up about using it. As luck would have it, we are doing some graphing things that are well suited to using it. I promised today, the first day after spring break, they could finally get their hands on it to play.
Our Math Starter today was an introduction: Sketch 2 graphs, one showing your height from birth until now, another showing your hair length from birth until now. Pretty simple, basic and easily attainable by all students. I even gave a quick review of sketching a graph.
First hour was a riot, as they learned to use the wireless chalkboard, playing with the tools, laughing at each other's incompetence, discussing our graphs, and learning together the ins and outs of both the tech tool and the process of graphs. It was a wonderful conversation about their graphs, right, wrong, it didn't matter. We shared and laughed and learned.
Then, sixth hour... THAT hour of my day. Knowing this group struggles more with almost everything we do, I gave even more specific instructions on sketching graphs trying to get them started. Then, time to use the chalkboard to draw them, after they had each had time to draw their indivdual graphs in their notebooks. The first student who volunteered had no graph on paper and was unable to draw it. As I tried to find someone with the assignment done, this short 60 second assignment, anyone.... someone who could transfer their drawing to the wireless chalkboard, I could find no one with it done. After I had scanned the first half of the class and realized no one had even bothered to TRY, I quickly got annoyed. Here I have this cool, fun, interactive plan for the day, something THIS GROUP will enjoy, something that will engage them, something TECHIE to grab them, and they can't be bothered to sketch 2 little tiny graphs on paper first.
I took back the chalkboard and turned it off, telling them I didn't have time to share that tool with them. It takes SOOOO much longer with it, honestly, to draw graphs, I wonder about the true benefits of it anyway. But it is fun, engaging and lends itself to mistakes which makes their real mistakes in their graphs less threatening.
We continued the lesson,, simply drawing the graphs on the whiteboard, the usual boring way.
*SIGH* I wish I had more patience with them. I wish I could somehow let it go when they refuse to work. But it is overwhelming when no matter the assignment, this group can't be bothered to complete it. Short or long, fun or boring, the same few complete it. The same ones every day tune me out, no matter what I do. I can tell funny stories or dorky jokes; I can tease them; I can punish them; I can yell; I can whisper. Nothing changes anything. They are off on some other planet. I see easily how they landed in the 'low' group of our tracked math program.
Punishing them all is not the answer. I knew that, I know that... I am just at wit's end with them.
But tomorrow is another day. We are doing a lab, stacking cups, measuring them, trying to determine the packaging requirements to package them to ship them out. Will THAT hook them? I have no idea... but again, I will try.... wish me luck!