Saturday, June 24, 2006

And We're Through

So I'm through the first week. Friday was the first day that I taught a real, academic lesson pointed towards my students' final assessment, since Wednesday and Thursday were TAKS testing days for most of the school. I was given lesson plans to teach for the first few days, but I pretty much entirely scrapped them, because they were probably too easy for my students and didn't prepare them very well for the sorts of questions they actually know. So I had to stay up pretty late Thursday night drafting an entirely new lesson plan, on reducing fractions. Since this was the first lesson plan I'd written entirely on my own, and I had written it late the night before it was going to be delivered, I wasn't sure how it was going to go over.

My first period class remains absolutely perfect. They paid very good attention during my lecture, and we able to repeat back all of the steps that I gave them for reducing fractions. I didn't realize how hard some of the fractions I had given them were to reduce (they have trouble finding factors for bigger numbers), and when they didn't have time to finish, some of them asked if they could copy them down to finish later. And we played fraction bingo as a rewards, and I had them tear up pieces of paper to make their markers--and when I asked them to silently throw their paper away, they did it perfectly! My fifth period class was just slightly off the mark on all of these things--a little bit chatty, and not really paying that close attention to the lecture. Most of the students arrived late, too.

But yesterday during my off periods I went to observe some other, "real" classes and that was an awakening. Compared to the sort of chaos that is going on in most of the classrooms at JMS, my fifth period class is a dream. Sara, who is in my CMA group, had her class line up outside the door 5 or 6 times, trying to get them to enter the room quietly and get to work, but it never worked. Once they were in their seats, not a single student in the class was paying attention. One student kept getting up and switching seats when Sara had her back turned. It was painful to watch--not because Sara was doing a bad job, but because there was so little she could do to keep order. I'm going to have to be prepared to be a little more strict when I get to South Dakota.

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