Monday, December 11, 2006

HM Spouts Her Philosophy

Today was the first day of the rest of my week. It's the last full week
before Christmas vacation. I still have three finals to make up for the
building that is not Basementia. Meh. Since I found out my kids are
only getting a general elective credit instead of a core credit for my
math and language classes, I am not sweating it. Oh, I give them an
assignment every day in their subject area. I teach them what they
are supposed to learn according to the Grade Level Expectations.
But I'm not breaking my back to make a comprehensive, all-inclusive
depth-of-knowledge-questions test. I figure a performance event
is final enough. The kids with no Fs, less than 3 days absent, and
no discipline referrals don't have to take the finals. I don't see why
the struggling kids should risk making their grades even lower. It is
up to each teacher to decide if the final exam grade can hurt or only
help the student. I just have a problem with 'finals' not being for
everybody. Perhaps there could be some other form of incentive
for the absences and discipline, like Busywork Day, or Big Test Day,
or Bored To Tears Average Day, or I Wish I Got To Play Sports
And Eat Snacks And Listen To Music And Watch Movies All Day
Instead Of Going To Class Day.

I don't think it is right to give FINALS that do not apply to everyone.
They ain't gettin' out of finals in college for showing up and doing
what's expected all semester. That's just my thinking. I don't dare
voice such an opinion to the students OR the other teachers. I don't
pretend to give a final and show movies on final day. I just give a
MAP-style question that takes about 30 minutes to answer.
So sue me. Not really. Our society is already too litigious.

Wake up! I'm done spouting off about my educational beliefs. Now
we shall talk about the students. One of them had the nerve to ask me
today, "Why is my grade only 82%? I only missed 2 out of 11! In the
other math class, I usually get a 90% if I miss two!" This is sad. It is
MATH, for the love of Gummi Mary! I said, "Are you saying that I
don't know how to calculate a percent...ON A CALCULATOR?
Should I tell Mrs. Other Math Teacher what you said?" And the
student said, "Oh, you talk about us behind our backs?" Hahahaha!
"No. I am telling you that I am going to discuss it with her. Obviously,
we need to put more time into this concept of 'percent', which is
calculated as the top number of the fraction divided by the bottom
number of the fraction, multiplied by 100. Like 9/11 is 9 divided
by 11, times 100, which gives you a percent of 82. Your score."
I didn't even try to slip the words 'numerator' and 'denominator'
in there. Or say you could just move the decimal two places to the
right. I don't know what the deal is. He used to be the star of my
class, but for the past two weeks, a girl has been getting more right
than him. Oh, I don't tell them. They all yell their scores out loud.
So much for confidentiality.

I had some good writing assignments this morning out of my older
students. Maybe I'll show some tomorrow. Maybe not. All three
classes did a different type of authentic writing. One class did a
review, another did a personal essay, and another did a 'just
because...' poem.

I'm on the downhill slope to the end of the semester, people.
The school year is almost over, you know!

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