Sunday, November 02, 2008

9th graders

I'm teaching one section of algebra 1 preAP this year, and I feel like I take extra care of them ... because they're "young uns", and they're learning the foundation for everything else that comes, and they're just so darned cute most of the times. With that said, there are still some "young uns" issues.

There's one whiney child that grates on my last nerve, and I have to work extra hard to not show it. Everything we do, her response is (insert whine), "I don't get it. I don't get anything." She needs to be hand-held through every step. It got to the point where she snapped back at me in class one day because I told her to get to work when she was chatting (because she JUST didn't get it and was waiting for me to do things as opposed to getting help from her more capable group mates).

I was super frustrated last week, so I sent e-mail to her other teachers to explain the situation and to see if it was just me and my class or if these issues came up elsewhere. Two other teachers responded and mimicked what I said about her neediness. They mentioned that she either has a capable friend sitting by her to help or the teacher literally DOES break things down into baby steps. This made me feel better and gave me an idea of copying extra "reteach" sheets for each topic so that she'll have extra practice to look at while the rest of the class is "zooming" along.

She was better in class this last time, but had to leave, so I didn't get to test out my extra-sheet idea yet.

I'm also dealing with a large portion of the class (4-6 out of 28) not turning in ANY homework. I think they're still used to middle school where you magically pass no matter what. I've made some calls home, so hopefully that will produce some late work this coming week.

11 comments:

  1. I totally hear you on the middle school mentality of I'll just pass. What a year of training.

    I did change my name - formerly Becky.

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  2. i don't know where students get their sense of entitlement these days. just because you are in class does not mean you deserve a good grade. it's nice of you to accept late work. do you think that it reinforces their entitlement issues, though?

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  3. Anonymous5:06 AM

    Well, that's a big can of worms. We also do "retests" in certain classes at this school. When I first got here, and a student asked when the retest was, I was confused. Retest? There's no retest. Sit down take your test and get what you get. Now, I've bowed to the school culture. Retest? Yes, you have a week to retake your test, and I'll average the grades.

    So, late work? I do dock them points, but I still accept it. Does it get them used to being "hand held"? Yes, probably.

    Ms. Cookie

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  4. I have noticed that there were a number of girls in my classes last year who also exhibited what I call "learned helplessness." In the beginning of the year, I fell prey to catering to them -- explaining everything to them individually. As the year progressed and I finally saw this as a tactic, as a way to avoid thinking, I took none of that. I wouldn't ignore them, but I wouldn't let them get away with just saying "I don't get it." I forced them to articulate exactly what they DO get, and where they are getting stuck.

    Granted these were 10th and 11th grade girls, so maybe it's different with 9th grade girls.

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  5. I am a future math teacher. I have one semester left. Many of my education professors have told us about this problem with getting students to turn in their homework. They are teaching new methods of assessment and engagement. More work in class, less work out of class.

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  6. Anonymous9:49 PM

    Yeesh! Please please PLEASE assign homework. I guess I'm only speaking about the population I teach, and they mostly do homework, and maybe it's not the culture other places. But in my gut I don't think that's the right direction to take things: oh, they won't do it, so I won't assign it. Just my feeling.

    I guess I'm of the mindset of: it's the students' job to test limits and such, and it's our job to enforce and reinforce (sp?) the limits gently and consistently. And I guess if the worst thing that happens to them is that they fail because they didn't do their work, well, that's a good lesson to learn, too. (granted I give them MANY opportunities to be successful).

    Ms. Cookie

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  7. Anonymous10:04 PM

    Here here! We don't do them any favours by caving in. Real life seldom pays off on "a good try", so we should follow through on our expectations - as long as they are reasonable expectations for the type of kid our class is supposed to have.

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  8. Math feels to me like a class where homework is particularly valuable and important. They need time for the things you teach in class to sink in, and then for them to try them on their own with no hand-holding.

    For problem solving, it is much more fruitful to discuss problems the kids have really had a chance to try and possibly struggle with first. I give them a time limit so they don't get to a point of frustration, but I do expect them to grapple with problems, and perhaps have some eureka moments along the way. There isn't time to do enough of that in the classroom, and it's too easy for them to give up and ask for help when you're right there.

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  9. Anonymous9:47 PM

    Yes to everything y'all said. I also struggle with various types of problems and when to assign them for homework (and how much) and am I willing to just have them come back and say, "I couldn't do it" if it's challenging, or should I start them out in class ... then I think like "mathmom" and don't want to always be the easy out for them.

    Ms. Cookie

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  10. As a future math teacher, I've had conversations about the value of homework with some of the math teachers at my current placement, a junior high school. They all believe homework is essential to future success in math. This seems to go against an increasingly prevalent philosophy in teaching--which is held by some of my cohort members: homework is evil. Some of the most popular, and seemingly successful, teachers in this school assign no homework--in English and history, BTW. But I understand former students return from high school and say they feel unable to keep up with the pace and the sudden increase in homework load. How could this 'no-homework' approach in jr high possibly be helping them--to be ready for HS or for college?

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  11. Anonymous12:36 AM

    the math we need we learned in elementary school the math later on is use lees and dumb its just tresses out teens who are being held back because of something there not good at and dont really need, i want to be a write not a math magician.

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