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Thursday, September 22, 2011

On a dime

It's truly amazing how quickly things can change, on a dime, as the old saying goes. This week has proven that.

Monday was one of the most frustrating days of the year. The High Level Task was a difficult one -- it would have been difficult for a class of high-achieving, non-apathetic, English as a First Language students -- and it drained me. It drained my energy, my patience, and our class time. Just going over the directions took forever. I wanted them to repeat the directions to me, in their own words, to make sure they understood what to do. So we spent a LONG time on each step of the directions. Then we did a couple of example steps, so they would know how they were supposed to record their explorations.

Finally, I gave them the green light to start the task with their groups. With most groups, you would have thought I had merely handed them the paper and said, "Go."

Most of the class (BOTH classes) were utterly clueless. They didn't know what to do, they were moving their token the wrong way on the 1,000 scroll, they were either not recording things at all, or recording them the wrong way.

I was majorly frustrated.

Then on Tuesday, something clicked. The kids were participating. They were telling me correct answers. They were showing their work on the paper. We seemed to have achieved something.

Wednesday was great, too. It was a review day for the Unit 1 post-test. We went over place value, pictographs, number forms, greater than and less than, number patterns. The kids were telling me how to show their work. They were creating and labeling pictographs. They seemed completely set for today's test.

Then Bam, they must have hit another dime. I was again majorly frustrated today, this time with their efforts on the test. Granted, some of the kids did a great job, but in the case of my morning class especially, I was mentally screaming as I walked around the room seeing kid after kid filling in answer bubbles with absolutely no work shown. The second question was a pictograph - something we had JUST done so well on the day before - and only a handful of students were labeling the pictures before choosing an answer.

Even when I made a big deal about NOT just choosing an answer choice without showing any work, I still had kids who just filled in a bubble and then waited for the next question.

If looks could kill, I'd have multiple counts of manslaughter against me today.

Thankfully, they can't, so I just have multiple fragments of a major headache.


Summers School said...

Yeah... Thankfully I have a class of mostly hard workers, so they push though. But it is FRUSTRATING to heck and back again when you say SHOW YOUR WORK and they don't. I'll even tap their test and say, "You didn't show any work." Nine times out of ten the kid will go "Oh! Okay!" and show work, and the other one will look at you like you're stupid, pick up their pen, pretend to work hard, then put it back down as soon as you move away. Or they'll argue about how they don't have to "show their work" because they did it "In their head." (I had all of the above happen today.)

Anonymous said...

Oh I know this feeling. Isn't teaching fun? I find telling myself that - sarcastically even - makes it all easier. I'd be a total stress bucket without my sense of humour.

Mister Teacher said...

Summers, that is EXACTLY what usually happens! I tell the kids, "Well, I can't cut your head open to see what you were thinking, so put it on the paper for me!"

Party, you HAVE to laugh at some of this, otherwise you'd be a mess. No doubt about it.