If it was just a matter of not being able to SEE the overhead, that would be one thing. But my kids can see it just fine. But they write one word then stare at the wall for a minute. Then write another word then examine a tiny capillary in their thumb. Then write a letter then daydream about Yugi-Oh for 2 minutes.
And copying from a book is no better. Yesterday, I had the kids take a chapter pre-test out of the text of our new math adoption (Texas Mathematics, which so far I'm liking except for one thing -- there isn't a consumable workbook for each kid!!!!). 17 questions, none very difficult, with straightforward directions on 3 sections. Since the kids can't write in the textbooks, I give each of them a sheet of notebook paper.
I go over each section with them, giving examples of how to write the answers. I tell them several times NOT to copy any charts, questions, or word problems they see, just to write the answers. I tell them to work individually, NOT to treat this as partner work.
Then the madness begins. Some kids immediately begin to copy the place value charts they see on questions 1-3. One boy raises his hand and asks, "Can we work with our partners?" One boy writes "one four" as his answer to number one, even though the directions clearly state (and I clearly reiterated) that the answers to questions 1-7 should be numbers in NUMERAL form only. About three-quarters of the kids don't seem to understand that the question and the answer should not be EXACTLY THE SAME THING. They were just copying what they saw. "Wow, number 6 says '2 tens 5 ones' -- the answer must be '2 tens 5 ones!' I'm ROCKIN this baby!!!"
I had hoped to only take about 20 minutes on this activity. After about 20 minutes, though, there were only about 2 kids who were anywhere near finished. Of course the kid who was busy copying the 4 sentence word problem word for word was nowhere near finished. And the girls staring at the floor were only on number 5.
One girl turned in a paper where she had answered questions 1-3, 8, 12-14, and 16. When I asked why (and refrained from using the other two words in WTF?) she hadn't done the other problems, she stared at me uncomprehendingly.
Color me afraid. Color me VERY afraid.
In other news, my kids worked on their science safety posters today. Each group of 2-3 students had chosen a slogan such as "Always wear safety goggles," "Always cover your clothes with an apron," or "Always wear mittens when working with hot objects." The posters were not exactly OSHA-quality, but there were some grins and giggles.
My early morning group of girls who had chosen "Be careful around sharp objects" drew some very colorful pictures of kids having their eyes stabbed out, their hands cut off, and their backs punctured with forks. Clear message -- Check.
Another group, who had "Always wear safety goggles," drew a tiny figure with goggles atop an erupting volcano. If only the poor citizens of Pompeii had worn safety goggles...
In the afternoon class, a couple of girls who had chosen "Always wear mittens" had a very confusing slogan -- "Mittens with hands always wear bad" and an equally confusing picture that seemed to show chemicals dripping on someone's hands, causing bloody stigmata to bloom.
Hey, the posters might not serve as a suitable warning to anybody ELSE who views them, but I think the kids got the message of safety.
One final note -- education.com has put up the new Mr. Teacher column for the week -- Where Is Everybody?