Friday, September 19, 2003

Ahhh, Friday!

My feet ache. Ache. My own middle school science teacher used to tell us that he could keep in shape as long as he stayed standing while he taught. And he was a "chalk-and-talk" teacher, who taught on the first floor and pretty much just paced back and forth in front of the chalkboard.* I teach on the sixth floor and constantly circle my room, weaving in between tables and hopping over backpacks. Plus there's the fifteen minute walk from the train station to my school in the morning, and frequently also a walk on the way home. Who needs a gym?

I have an intern! His name is Alfred,* and he is helping out with Reach The World, especially the technical stuff. He's going to come up with a digital video project for my students! I won a digital video camera and editing software in a grant from DonorsChoose. Problem is, I've never used a video camera, let alone editing software.... I didn't really expect to win the grant, which I wrote just before Oprah featured DonorsChoose, because it cost more than most grants on that website. But just after school started, they notified me that the grant had received funding (be careful what you wish for...). So, it's great to have Alfred here to help out with the DV project and more. He is funded by the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College.

Gave my first quiz today, on our vocabulary words from the last two weeks, plus basic circuits. I haven't graded it yet, but I think the seventh graders did okay, while the sixth graders had a rough time. I make them memorize the definitions of the vocabulary, because everyone should practice the skill of memorization at least occasionally. The six definitions every two weeks are pretty much the only memorization they ever do in my class. The rest of the questions are fill-in-the-blanks and short answer. After one or two quizzes, everyone should start doing well, because the format is very similar each week. I drop the lowest quiz grade to take into account the adjustment period and other problems.

I have my quiz routine honed to a fine point: When you enter my class, you take out your agenda, silent reading book, and pen, and put them to one side of your table. I hand out the quizzes and you work silently. When you finish, you flip over your quiz, put it in the center of the table, then open your agenda and copy down the homework. Finally, you close your agenda and read silently until everyone else finishes. This routine keeps everyone busy and quiet and prevents anyone from needing to rummage in backpacks or clutter the table with notebooks. I walk around, consult on questions, and watch that eyes are not wandering.

This school sounds nice: Small Bronx High School Now a Model For Others.

Some students can read and write in English well enough to graduate, but not well enough to pass the ESL exit test: 2 English Tests Speak.

*Pseudonym.

2 Comments:

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1:00 PM  
Blogger real_tips said...

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11:36 PM  

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