Monday, April 25, 2016

I can tell it's April

Wow. April kinda sucks. My smart, motivated delightful class is taking their joking to new heights. Play fighting, 'stepping up' to adults in a joking way, and almost-racist comments are becoming hard to control. I'm about as done as I can be and it's only Monday.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Graphing Skills

I consistently find that students struggle with scale when graphing. They often can't quite wrap their heads around a graph that has a scale other then 1 to 1, or when the x and y axis have vastly different scales. Also, when setting up scales, students will not make the space between their labels consistent. For example, if labeling the y-axis by 10s, the student may skip one square on the graph paper, and label it five, but then skip two squares for each 10 after that.

I felt frustrated that I didn't have a resource that asked students to practice JUST making scale, so I've developed my own series of activities for them to practice that. This is designed to be used with gradual release. Do the first couple activities on the doc cam as an entire class, then have the students work with a partner on the next few.

Finally have the students work individually to set up graphs from the final page. They don't have to graph the points/lines, since the learning objective is to create a workable, accurate scale for both the x- and y-axis  based on the data given, but of course if students need or want to practice the graphing, they can do that too.

Here's the worksheets I made to practice this: Graphing: Practicing Scale

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kids talking about abortion

Well that was a surprise. I was subbing in a Middle School leadership class the other day and the lesson left for me asked students to make posters about what they wished they could do to change the world. I had two students say 'stop abortion'.

I wasn't really prepared for this. Fortunately it was a school that I had subbed pretty frequently so I knew the students, but I didn't know them REALLY well.

Each student had the opportunity to get up and talk about their poster, why it was important to them, and what they could do in their life to help accomplish that.

I was scared, but it actually went really well. I allowed the students to lead the discussion, asking questions themselves and answering themselves. I acted as a referee, making sure kids were only talking one at a time, and that each discussion got a fair amount of time, but didn't get out of hand, over focused, or turn into an argument. There were a few times when I took the opportunity to inform based on fact, but mostly I kept out of it. I often restated what students said, clarifying and summarizing, and they then reaffirmed if what I said was what they meant.

It went really well in my opinion, and after school I asked one of the most opinionated girls who lead a discussion about ending abortion and asked how I did, and whether I let my personal bias through, and she said I hadn't and she thought I did a great job. I'm glad to hear that, and glad I've crossed that hurdle now. Students got a chance to voice their opinions and examine difficult issues, and I managed to keep my mouth shut!

Aethetics vs Excess

This particular post is inspired by the building that my new evening job is on. The John Jaqua Activity Center for Student Athletes. It's a brand new building on the UO campus, built by Phil Knight of Nike, for giving academic aid to student athletes.

The building is gorgeous in a modern archetecture crazy way. The pictures give you a basic idea. However, this building was REALLY expensive. Really. Phil Knight won't stay how much, but lets just say there's a hand stitched yellow Italian leather couch in the lobby. In education, especially colleges, I love how the space is beautiful. Graceful, stately, comic, the buildings are part of the joy of attending. No one wants to go to a school that looks like a prison (anyone seen Springfield High School?)

However, when does making a space beautiful and interesting cross the line into excess? I'm not sure if the Jaqua building crosses that line, but if it doesn't it's darn close. Thoughts?

Getting their money's worth

My mom warned me before I ever started subbing that some principals are super picky about making sure their subs stay all the way until the end of the day, even if they are doing NOTHING. I was very careful about that at first, but after spending some time at the same schools, which were happy to allow me to leave as soon as I was finished, I relaxed and accidently got myself in trouble.

Well, in trouble might be a little strong. At a school I subbed at a few weeks ago, the bell rang, I cleaned up the room, finished up my notes, and headed to the office to check out. I thought I'd spent a fair amount of after school time to make it seems as if I was doing stuff, so I'd only be leaving a few minutes early, but because this particular teacher's schedule had two free periods at the end of the day, I judged wrong. I arrived down at the office a full 30 minutes before I was supposed to leave and was told that I was supposed to stay until 3:45. She ended up having me stand outside (in the cold and rain) until 3:45 or the rest of the students were gone, whichever came first.

This annoys me.

I get it, you're paying me for 8 hrs, you want me to work for 8 hours. But the pure stupidity of having a person sit on their ass and do nothing (or alternatively read a novel) is ridiculous. I see it more like you are paying me to do the job of subbing for this teacher, the hours aren't the deal, it's the job. Do the job, get the pay. This is especially silly because in this situation I had already asked if the library needed help, I had asked the office and they had nothing except supervising space that was already supervised. If I'm an actual teacher who has actual planning and meetings and other things to use for that time, that is logical. A teacher who leaves early every day should be making the time up some other time. But as a substitute, there is nothing I Can do to help the teacher I'm covering for. In fact, even organizing or cleaning or grading, which might initially appear to be helpful tasks, might actually create more work for the teacher. I know that I wouldn't want a sub that I didn't know to do any of that for me, I want to look at my own students work, and do my own organizing.

Yes, the school deserves a full day of my time, but if you're going to make me stay after the work for my teacher is done, they better have something for me to do.

This is my opinion, what do you guys think, am I being reasonable? Is it ridiculous or commonplace for a school to expect me to sit and do nothing in my classroom instead of go home when I'm done.

Does a sub get paid for doing the job, or working the hours?

Things I've learned

After a few months of subbing all over the place i have learned two things that are absolutely HUGE to me.

1. Students are dismissed when I dismiss them. In my classroom students will work until the bell rings, when the bell rings, they will sit quietly until I dismiss them. Period. I don't want students controlling when they leave my classroom, this is a privileged that can be saved for college. Having me dismiss students isn't JUST about power, it also allows me to dispense any last minute reminders or announcements, and make changes to information that I've perhaps given out later.

2. No lining up at the door. In the event that I do ask students to clean up before the bell rings, they will not line up at the door, they will sit in their seats (unless it's the end of the day and I have to put chairs up, in which case they would stand behind their chair), and then they may leave when I dismiss them. When students start crowding up by the door it limits my ability to make any last minute announcements and encourages stampeding.

It's this sort of management stuff that I find I am learning what works, and what's my style every day I enter a new classroom.

Things have been brewing... an anecdote!

I've been jotting down blog topics for a couple weeks and haven't found time to type them, so I apologies for the quickness of these posts.

The Friday before school started back up after the new year I went out for a friends birthday to a bar, I ordered a drink and some food and wasn't carded. This isn't terribly surprising, though I did notice. I'm 24 and tend to look/seem fairly mature (or so I thought).

What was weird, was Monday morning I subbed at a school I hadn't been at much. I woke up late, and didn't have time to pack a lunch so I was stuck eating school lunch, not the end of the world. I finished eating up in the staff room and headed down to the cafeteria to return my tray. As I was leaving, one of the aids approached me and said "Are you a new student?"

This was at a middle school, yes at age 24 I was mistaken for a 6th, 17th or 8th grader, within DAYS of not being carded at a bar.

Apparently I defy recognition by looking both over 26 and under 14 at the same time!