Thursday, October 06, 2005


It was dark when I left my house this morning. Just a little silver in the sky, barely dawn.


We didn't get the grant I applied for to fund yoga during PE and after school. For some reason, I really thought we would. Instead, we got a souvenir hat as a consolation prize. Frankly, I would have been fine with just a rejection letter. So now we have to either drastically scale down our plans for yoga, or possibly give them up altogether. It's just too expensive.


I was standing near the wall of the school after lunch today, waiting for the sixth graders to quiet down enough for me to walk them upstairs from the schoolyard. Suddenly, I felt something wet hit my wrist. I looked down: bird poop. What is the universe trying to tell me?

Possibly it's trying to tell me that my sixth graders are angels incarnate, because although I went "eek" and jumped about a foot when I saw what had happened, not one sixth grader laughed or commented. And I'm sure at least a couple of them knew what my eek was all about.


Last week, I gave the kids a "metric art" assignment. Basically, it was a list of directions to follow to draw a series of shapes with specific dimensions. The art part was that they got to decide how to arrange the shapes on the page (and it was impossible to do without overlapping some shapes) and how to color them in. Most of them turned out really nice. It's a hard project to grade, though. I think I'll probably spot-check a few measurements on each page, then just eyeball it from there. This is one of those assignments that isn't really about the grade, per se, much more about the experience, practice with both aesthetics & measurement.


The 7th graders went on an incentive trip today, leaving me to cover the kids who didn't get to go, a veritable all-star team of 20-odd difficult kids. It made me realize how far my classroom management skills have come when I quieted them down, established some degree of calm, got nearly all working, showed a video in relative peace & quiet, saw that most were taking notes, and then assigned a review of the video for extra credit. It could have been the period from hell, but it wasn't. Purgatory, maybe.


Another hug from a sixth grader today. How do I love them? Let me count the ways.


Peeking in my classroom door: Everyone out of his or her seat. Noise, but when you listen closely, you hear that the kids are talking about measurement. They are in teams, measuring each other's height, armspan, etc. One kid stands up against the wall, another marks the top of his head or the tips of his outstretched arms with a ruler, then the kid steps out and helps measure his dimensions. We are investigating whether one's height correlates with one's armspan, handspan, the length of one's foot, or the circumference of one's head. We are also learning to measure in inches, which is MUCH harder than measuring in cm, and it makes me wonder why on EARTH we are still using a unit that divides into sixteenths???

It's a fun assignment, but how do I know which kids really don't get how to measure? I walk around, peer over shoulders... but at the end of the day, someone could totally miss the boat and I might not know. I give individual homework assignments to provide additional practice and as a net to catch the clueless so that I can help them. But plain old worksheets are godawful. It's a tightrope, I tell you.

As I checked their last homework assignment, I kept a post-it note for each class listing the kids who got a lot of their measurements wrong. Today, while everything else was going on, I tried to spend a few minutes with each of those kids, asking them to demonstrate for me how they measure. Most were fine and must have just been careless or have learned more since that assignment. A couple were a disaster and I didn't get to talk to anyone else by the time I was done working with them.


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