Saturday, January 26, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Core standards will boost equal opportunity.

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

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.


Ricochet said...

This was an article in the AJC today:

Ricochet said...

I'd laugh if that didn't feel like class every day.

Brenda Youngerman said...

Teaching is really tough when the kids just don't want to learn. What happens if they fail this class? Will they still graduate?

I used to turn problems like these into examples with practicality instead of 'x' - like make x their car, or $1.00 or something they can relate to... Once they get the concept switch back.

Ricochet said...

No, they will not graduate. They will have to take the class again. And again. And again - until they either pass it or turn 21.

Pissed Off said...

You are not alone. I really believe some of them can't learn even if they tried and that is why they act out and don't work. And, I know this is a politically incorrect comment but I don't care.

McGuffy Ann said...

This is a frightening reality. Very important post.

Jess said...

Sounds like you have your work cut out :-(

Xiomara Maldonado said...

That sounds BEYOND frustrating. Kids DO need to put in the work, and better yet, the parents need to put in the work as well.

Linda said...

I feel for ya...I think it would be so hard to be a teacher these days!

Hang in there!

Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Kate said...

So frustrating. This happens in my teaching, too, sometimes. In one ear, out the other.