Saturday, January 26, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Core standards will boost equal opportunity.

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That is the headline for an article by Joanne Jacobs here.


It isn't the standards.

It isn't the teaching.

It is the students.

I have spent the past week reviewing (ha!) properties of exponents with seniors as a precursor to delving deeper. They have learned (ha!) exponents in each of the preceding 6 years. I should say it was in the standards for each of those years and I know I taught it to some of these same kids, but I cannot honestly say they have learned any of this.

Exponents are not difficult.

I gave them a quiz - complete and utter flubbing. Same questions (did I mention the SAME QUESTIONS as the last quiz I gave - and they "don' get it". So - I went over it. I asked if there were any questions? No questions and they started talking (loudly) among themselves. So I gave another quiz. The uproar. "We don't understand this!" "You don't teach this!" "You only get this because you are a math teacher!" No. I get this because I learned it back when I was in high school because it is not taught again - at least not on the path I took.

I do not have another trick in the bag to teach this another way. I have shown that x^2 * x^3 is x^(2+3) because xx xxx is x^5. They want to use calculators (and calculators only ) and you can't do it with every problem. Somewhere in here you have to do the thinking.

Then I go to a repeater class. Again, same questions on another quiz. that they cannot do. So, I went back to where I retaught it 3 days ago. They don't get it.

I am trying to teach that if f(x) is x + 3 and g(x) is 2x-5 that f(x) +g(x) is 3x -2. And the f(2) is 5 - stuff we have been doing for 4 months. You would think I was teaching the theory of relativity.

I cannot dumb it down more. They are not stupid - I feel that they are putting no effort in. Other kids the same age in other schools (not gifted - just kids) can do three of these before breakfast.

And I get chided because my classes have no rigor.(Well, not for the students because it is damn rigorous to try to find different ways to teach the same easy concept over and over again without melting into a morass of idiocy).

The administrators will not remove distractions from my classes - nope, they pack the as full as they can.

There is a math maven - been here 3 years and tasked with helping. I ask for help - she'll get right with me. Yeah. Still waiting.

A former student posted on facebook: If someone breaks your heart, just punch them in the face. No really, punch them in the face and have a bowl of ice cream.

Sounds great.

Harry Wong says the person doing the work is the one doing the learning. I know who is doing the work. I also know you cannot make someone else work if they think they can get by without it.

I want to do something fun. And for the first time in a long long time - it is not trying to help others figure something out.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Six Word Saturday

We cripple kids with lowered expectations.

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Gee. What more is there to say than that?

I could give anecdotes - but that would only serve to depress you also - and give me away.

I know what rigor is. I expect it for myself and for my own children. I even expect it for the housepets, for goodness sakes.

But the administration wants to pass anyone who shows the slightest effort, regardless of how late it is in the game. And then wonders why these kids do not retain information from year to year. Do you suppose it is because they think copying information from the board is the same as listening to the lecture and doing work on their own?

I have started responding to "I am doing my work" with "No, you are doing MY work. I am the only one here doing any work."

Without the Powers That Be realizing that they will have to deal with one or two semesters of high failing grades, we will NEVER change the effort students are willing to do. You want to judge me on how many pass? Then they will pass, rigor be damned.

You want them to learn what they need to? Then back me up when I write them up for fooling around, talking, disrespect - and let me give them the grade they earned. (And back me up with the parents). Otherwise, look at what we collectively are doing to these kids and understand that they will stay at the bottom for a very long time.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Six Word Saturday

What are we willing to overlook?

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I am going to write some things here that are going to annoy some people that I care about. And that isn't my intent.

I am going to stomp on some toes. That isn't my intent either.

For the length of this posting, please put your beliefs (your strongly held beliefs) aside for a minute and read what I am saying.

Then we can argue some more.

I have dear dear friends who hold very different views from me - but we have common beliefs and tend to not discuss the ones where we have disagreements. Gun control, abortion, religion. war and the military, welfare, teaching. It seems there is not a topic these days where you can't piss someone off by just bringing it up.

A quote has been rattling around in my head this week - and I want to discuss it (calmly) then we can argue some more.

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes (German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945)]

I feel that Washington (Congress and the President) are chipping away at the Bill of Rights and no one is saying "Stop."

It is always for a good reason. "We will force you to buy insurance because everyone should have health insurance." Okay, no one wants anyone to suffer whan we as a society have the means to help. But the government should not be allowed to force me to buy something I do not want. And where is my responsibility to take care of myself and my own?

Then the government added that the insurance has to cover contraception because everyone has a right to sex without conception. (Okay, don't remember that Amendment). So Evangelicals and Catholics and probably others are being forced to pay for insurance that covers this. Oh, and abortion too.

What if the Government decides we all need to have Brussel sprouts for dinner? Or decides that we ALL need to eat pork? You say it won't happen. Who would have thought a President would be forcing contraception on the Catholics?

The government for years has been limiting free speech by labeling it hate speech.

Now the Government is talking about gun control. (I feel blood pressures going up) The second amendment was put in place in part to allow the citizenry to defend itself against the government. Newtown was a horrible tragedy. Aurora was a horrible tragedy. Columbine was a horrible tragedy. But then so is Chicago, which has some of the strictest gun control in the country.

A mother down here in Georgia was home with her children when a man she didn't know broke into her house using a crowbar. She hid with the kids and called her husband, who called 911 while talking to her on another phone. The intruder found her - and she shot him 6 times. He is still alive and in critical condition - but she is alive and the kids are alive as well.

I saw a bumper sticker years ago. "If you don't want abortion - don't have one."

I agree. Goes for guns too. (There is one community that requires - by law - that every citizen own a gun. Yep, that's down here too - Kennesaw.)

Okay, I am stepping down.The arguing may commence. Please keep it civil and have a nice weekend.

{I may not respond to you personally. Wordpress has done something where it keeps wanting to change my login if I try to post a comment and doesn't want me to be Ricochet but wants me to be the name I use for a completely separate blog. Since I haven't figured out how to fix that, I either send emails from ricochet04 at gmail dot com or post here.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Your viewpoint is really your viewpoint.

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Kids come back Monday. Most who need to do something to pass have not. I have already started getting the excuses and was ready to list them hear and bitch and moan about how horrid my life is, how hard I work, how under-appreciated I am.

But I am not going to.

These kids are going to keep making these choices, enabled by their parents. They may or may not get enabled by me, depending on whether or not I want to continue to cripple them. Or I may decide to suck it up and help them to be responsible - the question being am I willing to take the heat.

But I have to quit whining about this.

I read a column by Martha Beck last week and remembered how much she can inspire me - so I made a link to her columns one of the items on my dashboard and have made a resolution to read one of her columns every time I start getting unfocused.

If you haven't read anything by her, you should give it a try.

Happy new year!