Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 3: Algebra 1

Whew. They are coming along. I do have to say I love my schedule so far this year.  2 classes of Algebra 1, seminar, prep, lunch, and 3 classes of Math Analysis.  It gives my day good spacing and a nice break.

I am learning even more every day with my freshmen that MODELING IS KEY!  Like more than what I even think is needed.  Also, I am not sure if they really don't know what to do, if they didn't listen to hear what to do, if they are just lazy and don't do it, or if they just don't realize that this is high school and when your teacher asks you to do something she expects it to be done.

Today we continued watching a video together in class.  Instead of being the "bad model", I was the "good model" and paused it often, thought about what I was hearing to myself (out loud of course), and took some time to process before moving on.  I had the kids do most of that in groups and then share out so they understood that every single student is accountable for every assignment and they can't just depend on their group members to do all the work. We had a few students learn this the hard way.  After each group had 30-60 seconds to talk about a certain question, I went around and had each group share out.  However, instead of a random person speaking up, I specifically pointed at a student in the group and that student had to answer the question.  There was one group where the boy I called on said, "I don't know, they were talking about it". So, we got to have a nice discussion about participation and accountability.  The classmate next to him wasn't listening either.  Of course, being freshmen, they thought it was funny, but we used it as a learning experience.  We did it again near the end of class and I called on the same first boy and he was able to answer, so I felt that was a nice way to "redeem himself" from being somewhat embarrased in class.

The overall attitudes I am sensing right now in Algebra 1 are about half and half.  First of all, my 1st and 2nd period are completely different and I have a feeling once our CST scores come in I'm going to see much higher scores in 2nd period.  They just seem to be a bit brighter.  Regardless of that, some students are having a hard time understanding that it is expected they are active and engaged in their learning because they are so not used to having to do anything but sit there, lean back, and chill out. Some students didn't even take notes during the video as we were watching it together and pausing it, so I had to have a few conversations with those students.  Some responded very positively and seemed to "get it", whereas I still have a few ones who don't seem to want to do any learning or give any effort.  I hope it improves as time goes on.

The most frustrating thing for me right now is I know there are students who are so annoyed that we have to spend time in "training" because they are ready to move on.  However, I know that if I don't spend this time now, I am setting myself up for a year of frustration.  So, I keep reminding them of the goal: Think about how you will be able to learn at your own pace once our "training" is done! Won't it be nice to not have to wait for others, or to go slower if you want?

I also showed them how to complete an online WSQ and their first one is due on Monday.  We actually went over all the questions together, so all they have to do is actually type in the answers.  This will be the first assignment submitted electronically for all students so I will have a better idea who is turning stuff in.  All the other papers I am trying to get recorded but there are so many of them it is hard to keep up the first week of school.

Also, I am going to have to burn some DVDs for a few students who don't even have computers at home. I didn't have to do this at all last year, and I was hoping flash drives would do.  However, I guess in a way I was expecting this.  So now, I need to figure out what is the easiest way to do this - ideas are welcome!

I'm looking forward to a restful weekend and an improved second week. I'm hoping by the end of next week we will be ready to watch videos at home and actually spend our class time the way I want - students demonstrating TWIRLS rather than me doing most of the instruction, getting that one-on-one help, and making progress towards proficiency in Algebra 1.

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