Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Motivation Struggle

Today I did something I don't like doing... I forced kids to stay in for recess.  I said, "If you didn't understand the math homework from last night, and I can look at your work and tell that, you won't get to help with the lower elementary field day this afternoon."  Slowly, after rewording that a few times and the students figuring out I was serious, they trickled over from the "go out to recess line" to the "stay in line." 

I felt like I was holding them captive, against their will, (except for those few who decided to come in before I made the "threat") as we looked over the assignment again, I did some reteaching, and then students worked or reworked the problems.  See, I give the answers to the math homework so they can get feedback automatically as to if they are doing it correctly instead of waiting until it's checked by me.  They can see right away if they "get it" or not.

One might say that you shouldn't give students work outside of the classroom until you are sure they can do it on their own, and I agree with that.  But I get this response from many of them in class....I actually have this Baby Blues comic posted on my bulletin board.  We work problems on individual white boards in class, and they seem to get it.  Does it just fall out of their heads when they leave?  Retention is not the big question I'm struggling with here.

The big question I'm struggling with and have been for a while is: WHY DON'T STUDENTS CARE?  Why won't they come in to get help?  When is it my job to force them to come in so they get help?  When is it their turn to step up and take responsibility for their own learning?  

I know I'm dwelling on the negative here...I should celebrate the kids who came in on their own.  Today I did not do that, and that is something I regret and will learn from...but with 8 days of school left, I'm kind of at my wits' end. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It only took until 7th grade...

As I walked into school the other morning, I ran into a student who I had last year.  This student was quite the challenge and we had our ups and downs, but he's a great kid and we really came to understand each other.  I asked how math was going, since I know 7th grade math can be a challenge, and he said it was going ok...that he goes in for help a lot.  Then he said something that really fired me up...he's been reading...a lot!  Last year I BATTLED with this gentleman to read.  I mean BATTLED...nothing interested him, books were dumb, reading was boring...

In 7th grade, the students study the Holocaust and WWII in Social Studies.  This topic really interested this student and now he cannot stop reading about it. 

It's just a shame that it took until his 7th grade year for this student to find a topic that interests him so much that he can't stop reading about it.   

How can we reach these students earlier?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Next Year...

As the year comes to a close, I think many teachers are in a state of exhaustion and reflection at the same time.  I know I am. There are many thoughts in my head about what I will do differently next year.  I've started a Google Doc that is a list of what I want to make sure I change, do for the first time, or don't do at all next year.  I'm doing this so that I don't forget over the summer what I'm feeling in these last days.

A few things on  my list are:
  • Use a Google form to collect kids' and parents' information.
  • Discuss what I expect from students when they return from being absent.
  • Make a video of a good literature circle and show students how it should work.
  • Discuss that I don't give extra credit.

What will you change, add, or drop next year?  I encourage you to make a list.  I feel like mine is growing every day!