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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

20 Days - Already!?

That's right. Twenty days of school have already past. One month down, eight to go.

So what have we accomplished?

Not much productivity, but much in the area of groundwork, foundation, and routine.

I must be easily amazed, but I cannot believe that I had to have another talk with my classes about how many gaps we have to fill. The importance of coming into my classroom ready to work is still something I have to "fight" every day.

The agenda is on the right side of the board.
Pick up your name slip.
Get your Notebook.
Begin the Starter.
Have the Starter completed within two minutes after the bell.
I know many edbloggers will cringe at the thought of routine and bells every period. Well, you'll have to get over it...it's my reality (and nearly everyone else's too).

Why an agenda?
To avoid the daily question, "What are we doing today?" They still ask, but I don't have to answer...I just point.

Why a Starter?
To get them to focus. To cover the basics of Social Studies and Geography. Remember, the gaps in my students go back to 2nd grade. Today's starter included naming the imaginary line from which we mark north and south latitude...the equator. I was happy that 114 out of my 132 students got that one correct. But Prime Meridian and International Date Line is something that will take a little more work.

Why name slips?
We have to submit attendance every period of the day through Infinite Campus (Impotent Campus as I call it). It's one of these "We can do this, so why not do it 8 times a day." So students pick up their name, and the slips that remain are absent. I can report that quickly (within 20 seconds). Then I collect the name slips and mix them up to call on students throughout class to answer questions, go to the board, and do other things. It's random that way. I also learned my students' names quicker this way.

Why the Notebook?
Most teachers have a notebook of some kind. In the case of the Social Studies teachers at my school it is very important. We have no current textbooks, and will not receive any in the near future. The Notebook is the student textbook. Since we studied the concept of economic systems, one of my students asked if we were a Traditional Economy in regards to our textbook philosophy. See, they can apply concepts to real life situations. :-)

We have our struggles. I teach on an ELL (English Language Learner) team. I requested this team, and was granted the opportunity (again). We still work hard to understand how to put together organizational tools. Today it was our second attempt to create a 4x4 table, and put the information in the correct square. We have tried to identify when to use Venn Diagrams and when a T-Chart might be better. But we are learning.

Behavior (or misbehavior) is a serious issue. This is why establishing routines is an important part of our first month. I spoke with the other teachers on my team to find out what minor routines they were trying to develop...things like Name, Class Period, Date in the upper right corner & a Title on each page. If we can all do the same thing, the students will adapt quicker. It seems so controlling and dictatorial, but in our climate of testing means everything, that's what we have to do in our situation to stay on the AYP list and off the #$%@ list.

I am a tech guy. I absolutely hate the thought that when we tried to use the computers in Stations the class could not function. They have been conditioned to a certain style of teaching...spoonfeeding. They do not know how to conduct a basic search, or read instructions. (Remember, teachers read the instructions to them during Testing Weeks).

Here's a flowchart I am working to see if we can get here by the year's end. I welcome ideas, criticisms, and thoughts.


By the way...My student is wrong. We are not a traditional economy in public schools. It's is most definitely a Command Economy. Which is probably why students and teachers don't much care for school. They know it could be better.

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The views expressed here are my own and reflect only my opinion.
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