Friday, January 29, 2010

Comfort Zone

All students have a comfort zone and I enjoy dragging them out of it whenever I can. On our school email I ran across this article about a 13 year old girl who was beaten and given 60 days in jail for bringing a camera phone to class in Saudi Arabia. I found the entire story online and decided to use it and the photo of flogging for my classes.

I did this for two reasons. First, I needed to adjust my lesson plans due to the librarian breaking her leg. I was going to take my classes there to start a research paper project and she holds presentations to help them do the research. Secondly I was a bit tired of hearing about how bad our justice system was and decided to show them a bit of the real world. Yes I know that our system is flawed. But at least we don't crucify people in public.

It worked like a charm. After reading and discussing the article my students got to write a reaction to it and from what I have seen, the responses should be pretty good. And more importantly, they learned that our system is light years ahead of most countries around the world.

This week they will be coming up with ideas to help solve the budget crisis Nevada finds itself in and then writing a persuasive essay to convince the reader to adopt their plan. Hopefully they will also get into this assignment as well since they will be the ones to pay the real price next year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1st Semester Reflections

Today I asked my students to reflect on the first semester. Surprisingly I got some nice comments but I do get worried when I get things like 'the work is easy' etc., fortunately I also got comments like 'the teacher does a great job of explaining' so I hope that is why the work is easy. I also need to tell my friend Rich that one student mentioned his visit as the highlight of her semester. I thought that was pretty cool.

My big issue (aside from second period) is that I don't have enough chairs for my honors class. I mean I thought that 41 chairs would be enough but I have 44 students enrolled right now. Soooo I need to scrape up three more desks. The other thing that I did with them was to hand them back their essays and have them revise the weakest of the bunch. My new students I had start an essay. One student made the mistake of asking me to comment on her essays because she did not trust my grade... Heh, I doubt she will do that again.

Next week we start the research papers, that should be interesting to do. Oh and it really does rain in Las Vegas...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wow has it been that long?

OK, I guess it has been that long. So, what happened since November? Well, 2nd period is still 2nd period, 2nd semester starts on Tuesday and I have a cold, again. I had a great Christmas break and found out that 10 13-year olds make more noise than 38 9th graders. I also found out that my students need help with reading comprehension, badly. I had to curve the final exams because out of 140 tests I had FOUR C's... Yea 4 kids got at least a 35 out of 50 on the scantron part of the exam. The rest? Let's just say that the scantron machine I was using ran out of red ink and it was a good thing I used the silent one and not the one that adds the sound effects while I grades the tests. It would have sounded like gunfire and the building would have been locked down. At least the writing part of the test went well, at least for the regular classes.

The honors classes had two essays and most them them had one good essay and one that sucked eggs. I mean that a student would get a 40/45 on one essay and a 30/45 on the other. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I mean I can see a bit of a difference but not that much. But they did better (not great mind you) on the scantron part.

Soooooo I need to go over reading comprehension, a lot and my honors kids get to revise the essays they puked on this week. Then we get to do research papers and then Shakespeare! Yippee Flippin Skippie. Maybe next year I should teach Shakespeare the first quarter and get it out of the way.

Finally, I really truly hate No Child Left Behind. Seriously... Thank you ever so much for that piece of garbage Mr. Bush and Mr. Kennedy. Teaching is hard enough without constantly worrying about the Next Big Test...