24 September 2005

Looking Back on the Week

It seems like the weekend is a good time to put some perspective on the Monday through Friday stuff.

The kids didn't do as well as hoped (theirs or mine) on Tuesday's exam. However, I let them correct it for half credit---but they had to think about and explain why they missed the question. I only allowed them to use things like "I didn't know it" or "I didn't study" once. I was rather proud of some of the insight they gave themselves in return. Some of them know that they need to slow down when they read the "stem" of the question. Others may start underlining the main vocabulary. This is one of way of getting at the "How do they know if they know?" thing. If they can realize why they missed a question, then perhaps they won't make a similar mistake.

Mind you, these are rather highly strung kids and any low grade is looked upon in an out of proportion way. So we talked about that a bit, too. This is one test out of a whole semester. It was the first test of a new class---and now you'll know the style of things. I do drop a low grade here or there. Exams are only 1/3 of the overall grade. When I showed them their current averages (based on only 4 grades), they seemed to calm down.

The interesting thing with this group is that they're not much for talking---not just with me, but with one another. It's darned hard to do a strategy like "think-pair-share" when they don't "pair and share." They are starting to thaw a bit. It isn't as if they have to always partner up in class for things. But I keep explaining that the more they use the vocabulary and ideas, the better off they'll be. And this means having some conversation with someone else.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (a/k/a "Curriculum"), there are interesting things afoot, too. I'm trying to get the materials adoption in progress. But one principal was worried about one of the volunteers for the committee---a problem that resolved itself. We will need materials for 6th grade, and yet the district hasn't given the books with science standards to many elementaries (meaning 6th grade teachers don't know they're part of a different "band" of standards from math, reading, etc.), or even told the principals about the scope and sequence work from last spring. How am I supposed to invite people to participate without blowing them out of the water with this news? And speaking of materials, a colleague of mine was looking for an opportunity to do some parallel curriculum with his sophs and I sent him to talk to an English teacher I knew. She had mentioned at one point that she might be interested in reading "Inherit the Wind" with her kids...but she and I never got that plan off the ground. Now it looks like it will...only it turns out the play isn't "adopted material" (like we were told it was). The Boss Lady is a bit concerned about this idea because of the current political climate. However, if we can use the Bible as literature, kids can read all about ancient Greek religion in the form of mythology, then a play can also be used as literature. My colleague will take care of the evolution part in his biology class. The English teacher isn't responsible for that. Should be kinda fun to see how this goes.

The Boss Lady asked me yesterday if I had enough work to do. At the moment, I have a pretty light load---and I was honest about that. I also told her that my calendar is starting to fill up and that I won't have things as I do now. The Giant Black Box is elementary science---which isn't really part of my job, but is fast becoming so. I don't mind. I'm actually very interested in helping those teachers. They have already found me and are calling for help. But instead of working with staffs at 6 schools, I would have 19 schools...plus the Off Campus and alternative programs. It's a "black box" because I really don't know what all this would entail. I have a feeling that there will be far more for me to do than I can manage.

So I will enjoy these last few weekends of peace and headspace. It gives me a bit more time to plan for my class and think about other things in life. Time enough for everything else on Monday...I hope.

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