Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sugar and Drama

Today was a rough teaching day.
We had a virtual mall type thing at school today to raise money for our Ecuador fundraiser. Lots of kids out on the playground selling little trinkets, nachos, root beer floats, and all kinds of sugary badness that makes kids go crazy.
Following this was my final class of the day. Since it’s Tuesday, and my weird schedule day, my fifth module is my usual second module group of kiddos, whom I usually have in the morning. In this class are some of the more difficult-to-manage kids. They’re not bad; they just get out of hand quickly.
Well, being hopped up on sugar didn’t help things. As soon as class started, we began the power struggle dance. These five boys just did not want to listen. Or sit still. Or stop talking. Or pretty much do anything reasonable I was asking them to do. At one point, I send the rest of the (well behaved) class outside to work as a treat, and just pleaded for my naughties to just spend five minutes working without talking. They all failed. My frustration was mounting. They’re giddiness was growing. I don’t like condoning bad behavior, because I think everyone can control themselves despite circumstances, but I knew they were being so outrageously ridiculous because of all the sugar they’d gotten hopped up on in the last hour. And so I tried to have grace, as much as I could muster.
And in the last minutes I said screw it and we played Heads Up, Seven Up. And even that, they couldn’t handle.
When I got home frazzled and tired, and sad because I had to go back in an hour to run a booth at the science fair, I complained a bit too Chris, then went to lay down for half an hour. Feeling pretty sorry for myself for having such rotten kids, and not having the ability to control them, I scrolled through some social media and then went looking for a photo from the day to post. I found the videos I took earlier today, of my fourth module class, being absolutely amazing. Seems in my angst about how awful fifth had gone, I’d completely forgotten about how smitten I was with the kids before that, who’d totally rocked a collaboration review project I gave them. I seriously wish I could post the videos, because they were just a dream class.
So two things I want to remember about this:
1) You’re going to have bad days. Or just bad modules. Whatever. Don’t get all stressed out over them. Don’t rely on threats or make yourself crazy trying to get 5 kids to cooperate when the other 22 are being great. In hindsight, I should have just sent those kids outside to separate tables with their homework and told them I’d deal with them later.
2) Don’t let the bad moments overshadow the good. When I was taking the videos during fourth mod, I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to show Chris how awesome my kids are!” But instead, I came home and ranted about just the stinkers. Luckily, I came home from the science fair with a much cooler head and rediscovered love for my kiddos, and I showed him how cool they were a little bit ago.
So I couldn’t show the videos of my kids’ spectacular collaboration skills, but I can show the non-face pictures I made sure to take of their posters. These posters, by the way, are the product of a hectic race to finish up their topics, and after I’d said not to worry so much about the posters look. They just couldn’t resist. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A pain in the Angle-Side-Side

Third module’s new favorite saying, courtesy of congruency of triangles proofs. This is how they know they can’t prove two triangles are congruent. Love it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Teachery Things: Transformation Stations

This last week I did a three day long lesson on transformations, which included four different stations for kiddos to explore hands on.

Things that worked:
The reflection station was a hit. The kids got super creative and were really excited to paint in math class.
The rotation station also worked well with the instructions clear enough for anyone who actually read them to completely follow along. (The ones who didn’t read the instructions were of course lost.)
The transformation series game Shape Mods was a big hit. Most kids were super into it, and though some were really frustrated at first, once they figured out the controls and some strategies, they started moving through levels quickly. Some were devastated when it was time to switch stations.
Things I would change:
I would make my own translation maze with the dot pictured on it’s starting point. Too many kids were asking, “Where do I start?” The directions on the worksheet weren’t great.
I need to create a real file with the rotation stations rectangles further away from the paper’s borders. I thought I’d make it faster for the kids by drawing the cut outs along the edges, but the copier cut off one side a bit, making those shapes useless or frustrating the kids who accidentally used them, since they no longer matched up.
This lesson was chaotic and fun and the kids had a good time. On one of the days (it took two and a half days to get everyone through every station with sufficient time) I had my yearly observation and my principal loved it. She went around taking pictures of the kids working on her iPad. When she left, one of my girls said, “Hey, she takes pictures of us just like you do!” Yes, children. I’m not the only weirdo who likes taking pictures of you guys while you’re being all cutesy and learning stuff.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday morning.

Best time of any weekday is the 20 minutes before school starts. It’s quiet. The room still looks good. It’s not too hot yet.
Then the kids come in, and it’s seven hours of chaos from then until pickup.