…and so I step back up to the plate.
Teaching’s been rough for a little while. I’ve had a few good days in the last handful, so I guess that’s the arc of things.
Time to accentuate the positive
Still experimenting with motivating my concepts. All the discussion about pseudocontext has had a great effect on my lesson planning. For instance, I was thinking about motivating solving for unknown dimensions with known volumes. “Your room has [blah] volume and [blah] length and width. Find its height.” is the traditional way of going about it. After mulling it over for a few hours, I got in touch with a parent who works at the post office, and I borrowed one of the little charts they use to check to see if a box in under 1 cubic foot. Its got all these curves for different heights, and I’m sniffing some 7th grade optimization on the horizon.
On another note, I’m cooking up something which has got me pretty geeked. In my quest to decrease my number of preps, I’m going to propose to my administration to create a ‘pedagogy coach’ (taking suggestions on names) to foster observation and conversation among faculty, especially new teachers. Teach For America really instilled a love of this sort of thing, and I think its something my school could really improve on. I was writing the proposal for it last Friday at 10pm. Its funny how a little inspiration gives some pep to the step.
Standards Based Grading – I love it. Three quarters in and I could never go back. My grades mean so much more to me than ever before – and I’ve barely begun to work out the kinks in the system.
I’ve got one class thats really messing with me though. There a really top-notch group of kids, at least until they walk into my room it seems. I do more outside-the-box stuff with this class than any other, and they show no more interest than when we are working problems from the book (in fact, they tend to work harder when doing boring stuff). I try and leave stuff over the plate, but they never seem to take a swing.
Funny thing is, their grades are fine. Great really. One of the advantages of SBG is I’ve stopped putting a bunch of trash into the grade, or using it as a lever against them. They get the stuff, but don’t really embrace any inquiry – just check it off and roll on. The worst days are when they are all quietly working on some problem set- it represents the complete disconnect between their curiosity and math.
Culture setting has always been one of my weaknesses, and I think its evident in this class. Resolution – make more explicit what inquiry looks like. I probably could do some assessment redesign, which sounds like a summer project.
I would like to post more here about individual lessons. I think that would help me get in the habit of posting more often. More focus, less rambling. Maybe I’ll detail the lighthouse in the lava tomorrow…