Thursday, October 30, 2008

Today I declared to the other staff members that I actually liked the CTT class in a strange way. They thought I was demented.

I gave them a lesson on adding and subtracting signed numbers. Basically boring stuff, but most of them did not know how to do it. Now they're halfway good at it. Some more practice and they should be great. They are a bit crazy and class is wild. But they did their work for the most part and their crazy personalities made it more enjoyable.

One girl in that class is averaging a grade of a 7. That's a 7 out of 100. Her mother threatened to take her out of the school and away from her friends if she didn't pass everything, so she's desperate. I gave her a ton of work to do over the weekend and mandated her to come to tutoring twice a week if she wants to pass. She was amazing today during class. She was attentive, participated, and did the group work nicely. I hope she keeps it up, because I could use more students like her!

I have to make sure I don't get egged tomorrow to officially declare this a good week. But I'm hoping...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

bad test, good lesson

i gave a test this week that i thought would be really easy for them. i made the things they really knew well worth the most points but unfortunately, they either forgot it, or just forgot everything else. i'm not really sure how i would do this unit differently in the future but somehow i didn't prepare them well enough. i got 2 As out of almost 80 students. My top students all got in the 70s and 80s, and a couple even failed.

I was most upset with my CTT class, in which only 4 students passed, with the highest grade a 74. So yesterday I gave them a really fun lesson that covered a specific topic that the test was on. Usually this class is out of control, and it was hard to draw them in, but once I got their attention, everyone but one student was involved. I think every kid in the class was up to the board, even the ones that haven't done a drop of work all semester. At one point I had 10 students up at the same time and it worked great! My class was loud, but it was the most amazing lesson I had ever given. It was so much fun for us all, and when I gave them work to do on their own, they were all trying to outdo each other and go above and beyond my requirements.

Then I gave them homework to create their own examples and told them I'd give them 20 extra points on their test if they hand it in (this particular topic was worth 28 points on the test and they all bombed that part.) And if they made a super-duper example, I'd give them 30 points.

I didn't even have them today but 2 kids stopped by my classroom to drop off their homework early since they were so proud of what they'd done. one kid did 2 super-duper examples instead of the 2 regular ones I assigned. I told him to go home and do another one and he was excited! The other kid that came by is the biggest gangster in the school. He can barely even read or write, and hasn't done an ounce of work in anyone's class so far this year. It's the first homework assignment he's handed in since he started high school. He was so proud of his work, and he also did the super-duper example. He actually almost passed my test!

I'll see what kind of work I get tomorrow, but I might make a big poster with all of their super duper math examples and put it on my honor wall. The CTT kids would never get up their otherwise, and I'm so proud of them.

As for the other classes, I think I'm going to give them a second test for homework and average their two grades. I can't bear to see so many low grades. In the past when half of them failed, at least I had a good distribution. With this one, every student performed terribly! Oops...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

one more thing

On Friday, the new girl who I've previously written about came in and said that since I gave her a 55, she's going to continue to fail my class on purpose. I said "whatever you want, that's your choice." She just laughed and said "nah, I got you. I'm just kidding!" Then she took the first desk at the front of the room and did all of her work. She was actually the model student.

I think I'm the only teacher she tried to push to the limits, but I guess since I stood up to her I somehow earned her respect.

Now there are only 3 discipline problems left in that class, most of whom I can deal with on a day to day basis.

Friday, October 24, 2008

parent teacher afternoon

We had just as many parents come up today as last night, and all in all, 45% of the parents came. I think that's a pretty awesome turnout.

I also had record amounts of homework handed in to me today and lots of journals brought in. I promised the students a list of missing work for Monday and I believe that at least half the kids will bring it in.

I picked up easy grade pro and I'm finding it to be a dream! I have to say the hardest part of teaching for me has been organization. My attendance and HW records need a ton of help. When it came time to put in my grades, I had to manually calculate records and it was terribly time consuming. In the two days I've been using the program, I've been 1000x more organized. I think I'm in love.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

parent teacher night

So I ended up failing exactly half of my students, mostly because they don't do journals or homework. And of all the kids I failed, exactly half of their parents came tonight which was a nice turnout.

The parents were all very supportive, and all but one student knew why they had failed. I had extra copies of the current homework assignment on hand, and I hope to get record amounts of homework back from the students tomorrow.

In other news, one student was locked up last week for armed robbery, and another student was out today because he's on trial for attempted murder. Man, I hope he doesn't get too pissed that I failed him.

I'm getting sick and I feel like shit. Thank god tomorrow is a short day, even if I have to meet with parents.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the aftermath

i came back after a few days off and the new girl was in an in house suspension, except that she never bothered to come to school. so much for a new start.

most of the kids did work while i was gone. i had a fantastic sub that pretty much kept the order in my room. but then a bunch didn't show up for the actual presentations. ugh.

my grades for first marking period are due monday. i haven't gotten around to reading the journals since i allowed them the grace period to make them up but i'm not seeing a whole lot of them passing. i so hope i'm wrong!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

take 2

friday, thank god, was the total opposite of wednesday. the ctt class was a struggle, but everything else was a dream.

new girl came in and asked to join a new group with 2 students who weren't there on wednesday. she asked if she could start the project all over. i agreed and even told her we could start off completely new as far as the class goes. she was happy with that.

all the groups worked really well. even the one with the terrible kids. they were joking around a lot and didn't get as much done as the others, but they had concrete ideas about where they were heading with their final work product.

and i had some amazing ideas coming from some of these kids. to explain the concept of the additive inverse, one student drew a meteor plus a black hole. another one drew a sandcastle and the seashore (the waves wipe out the castle.) and someone else drew a pen plus white out.

i'm not going to be back into school until thursday; i really hope they continue to work on everything. i'm no so sure about the ctt class, because i barely got the directions across to them, but i see everyone else passing this unit easily. and thankfully my sub assisted with my classes on friday so he know what the project is all about, so i'm sure he can help the kids in the ctt class just fine.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

the new student

what a doll she is, really. first day in my class she tells me she plays by her own rules and ran out of my class when i expressly told her she couldn't.

i called home and left a message.

the next day she started out a bit better as she let me know in advance that she would have to leave shortly and i told her fine, as long as she finished the do now. she agreed.

but then as i was assigning the group work-- mind you this is a 4-day long project that counts as a test grade-- she refused to join a group. then 3 other people followed her. i said fine, you're all gonna fail. then i handed out school discipline sheets. the dean happened to walk into my class at this point to see one of these students and when he came back with her, the girl said she would make sure everyone did their work and i shouldn't use the discipline code yet.

fine, i agreed to this. it took a few minutes, but everyone started to work. well actually they agreed to join a group but refused to work. after 5 minutes the new girl told me she was working on something (praise the lord) but when i asked her a question she was bitchy and sarcastic.

i have let her know more than once that her attitude accounts for 25% of her final grade, but i don't know if she cares.

and to put the cherry on top, they decided to dismiss themselves 4 minutes early. they starting cheering and throwing up things in the air to get out of my room. but i wouldn't let anyone out until they all sat back down. they were cursing and mad at me that they were going to be late to their next class. one student said the class was in charge of dismissing themselves and not me. hahaha. new girl said she was going to hang herself if she had to be in my class any longer. hahahahaha. they ended up leaving my class 3 minutes late which meant yes, they were late for the next one. but i don't care if i have to do this every day until it stops, it's ridiculous.

at the end of the day, luck would have it that her guardian came in because she had an altercation with some other students. i spoke with them and they told me she's the same way at home. i don't know if this means they have no control over her, or if they will actually help. but they weren't happy to hear how she was acting.

and the funniest thing was this other boy, who has to be the worst in the school was shocked when i told him i would fail him if he didn't do the project. i asked him if he passed my last test. no, he got a 53. then i asked him if he ever handed in any hw. no, never. does he ever participate? once the entire semester.

it's pathetic, really. i bet they were allowed to get away with this through junior high and passed no matter what.

but they're not going to graduate hs without one math regents, and enough credits, either.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

the changes have been finalized.

the staff met and we decided to switch around all the kids' classes. we created one CTT class, and the rest are basically a mix. i hope this is for the best.

i taught a lesson on probability today that really had very little content. but it was fun and incorporated a ton of literacy with journaling and reading an old NYT article that was relevant. even the kids who are usually the hardest to engage were interested and asking questions. my kids can have a lot of fun in my class, but the problem i have is balancing content with the fun. today, there wasn't very much learning-- just a few review items. and the project i have them working on for the next week isn't so content oriented, but i think that something will stick with them long term for doing it. plus it makes my life easier not to have to teach much!

after this unit i start some hard stuff again so i wanted to give them a break, and an easy way to succeed in the class.

something interesting that happened today is that i shared my religion with two of my classes. it came up naturally in conversation for some reason, and when they found out they were absolutely shocked. i'm jewish and they just couldn't believe it. i'm not sure what they thought jews were supposed to look like but i was shocked that they were shocked!

then one kid asked me if i was reform or orthodox, which also really surprised me. these kids for the most part have no exposure to different cultures and here this kid knew about the different sects of judaism. i was very impressed.

but alas, most of my students were upset that i'm taking off part of next week... which i was also suprised at. i guess they like me which is great!

and one last thing, we have a new student little ms. attitude. one day in my class and i called home. unfortunately i couldn't reach anyone. i'm going to try again soon. i have never dealt with someone so disrespectful in all of my 25 days of teaching! :)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

i actually have a unit plan

yep, my very first one. i have the next 10 lessons fully mapped out. this is ever so exciting. but at the same time i'm already 2 weeks behind the pacing calendar.

my kids told me they feel like all they do in my class is take tests. which is partially true. so i'm giving them a fun project to work on this week.

my plan is to skip the first 3 chapters in the unit, and make a 4 day project out of the next two chapters. since the ones i'm skipping are mostly review, i will take one or two 20 minute blocks away from each group over three days just to individually teach them what they need to know and catch them up on any review items. this makes it easier for me, plus i can individualize their studies.

then i have two days on the last 2 sections (and i already have the activity planned for one of those days,) a day of review (probably powerpoint jeopardy,) and a unit quiz since their project will count for half their unit grade.

yep, exciting indeed!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

great success

the words of borat basically sum up my latest formative assessment of my kids.

i spent a month on unit 1. much longer than i had planned, but i wanted to teach and reteach until enough of them had success in the beginning that they would continue on in my class with confidence. and it pretty much worked.

i tested them this time on the same topics, but the exam was at least twice as hard as the quizzes have been. half of the questions were regent's type ones, and all the other required them to construct things, analyze and explain data, and write sentences giving examples or justifying their answers. it was really really hard. and not only did i get some good results, but a lot more students passed even on this level.

-28% of my kids scored under a 50, compared to 36% last time. and considering 22% of my kids are special ed, and i have others that just won't do a damned thing no matter what, that's pretty good.

-19% scored between a 50 and a 64. I think I can move these kids up eventually. actually quite a few of them were kids who passed the quizzes but couldn't handle the intensity of the questions. with practice, i'm sure they'll get better at it.

-28% scored between a 65 and an 84. among these are a guy who got a 20 and a 30 on the first two quizzes. he came to me the morning of the test for a cram session during homeroom. he ended up getting an 80. i hope this encourages him to pay more attention since i told him i will not be teaching him during homeroom again. this group also includes a girl who got a 40 and a 33 on her quizzes. she told me she doesn't know how she passed the 8th grade, as she has never gotten higher than a 43 on a math test in her life. she used to have mad attitude with me but she suddenly mellowed out this week. i found out that she was pregant and got an abortion on monday which might be the reason she has been giving all the teachers tons of problems. well anyhow she worked with me a lot this week and actually did her homework and she ended up with a 65, her first pass in math ever. i think this will mean a lot to her and i hope she will work as hard as she did this week every week.

- finally, 25 % of my kids got over an 85 on the test, up from 18% last time. this includes a girl who started off with a 45, got a 67 on the last quiz, and now got a 92.

-an added note, only 4% of my students scored below a 40 which mean that even those who are in my lowest bracket aren't too far off from passing.

given that this test was regent's format and reading/writing intensive, i'm pretty impressed.

so indeed, it was a great success. now if i only had a plan for the next unit...