Saturday, December 03, 2005

We got one program onto the robot, and other good things...

I pulled my sixth grade robotics students out of homeroom to attempt, once again, to load their program onto the robot we built. We used the one computer that I was absolutely sure was working two days ago: success! We heard that nice little doodle-oodle-oo chime and the robot was ready. They had programmed the robot to go forward for 6 seconds, turn for 2, and so on. Six seconds, it turned out, was enough time to send the robot most of the way across the classroom (we had to make manual adjustments to avoid hitting table legs) and two seconds was not nearly enough time to turn the robot. The kids immediately started troubleshooting: Make it go forward for less time and turn for more. Since there were still 20 minutes of homeroom left, I let them sit down at the laptop and make those changes immediately. The second time they tested the robot, I invited our principal in... she was appropriately impressed at the results of their efforts and also at the problem-solving skills they were demonstrating.

Later in the day, I told some of the older kids about this, and they said that they had finished their program, too, so we agreed to try it out on Monday during homeroom. If they experience success, too, that will go a long way towards getting everyone psyched for Thursday.


The 7th graders turned in their final drafts of their exploring the layers of the earth short stories. I haven't read them yet, but they seem much better than the first drafts and much better than the last assignment. I will be doing some labs with them in the next two weeks and am hoping to have a foundation of success to build upon when they have to start writing lab reports (which they did NOT learn how to do last year as they were supposed to).


My shoes hurt my feet so much by the end of the day that I was forced to stop by a shoe store in Union Square and buy these:

The picture does not do justice to the shiny blue accents.

The other shoes were so uncomfortable that the three times I've worn them I vowed not to wear them again. So this time, I just wore my new shoes out of the store and tossed the others in the nearest trash can. Whew! What a relief! I do hope some homeless person who isn't on her feet all day finds them...


Teacher-Blogger Happy Hour! Five of us showed up. I had a great time. There was a lot of talk about school, how we got started teaching, ridiculous stories about the absurdities of teaching in the city, and some talk about how decisions are made in Tweed and why bad administrators don't get fired more often. And then some guy promoting Bud Lite handed us five free beers (and then another five!) - probably not the drink of choice for any of us, but it was free - and so we stayed at the bar quite late.

We talked about the awesomeness of 311 and why most of us had called it at one point or another (construction, no heat or electricity at home, traffic lights not working). Then we wondered: why isn't there a 311 for teachers (and maybe parents)? Why isn't there a hotline you can call and say, My classroom has a hole in the ceiling and it's been there for three years, or My principal is still bothering us about bulletin boards after that cease-and-desist letter, or The security guards in our school just sit at the front desk all day and don't help at all when I call about a fight in the hallway? The union will say they are that hotline, but I think we were imagining something a little easier. You just call, they route your call to the right unit, they take down your complaint or concern, they give you a case number, and you hang up. Then either the problem gets fixed or it doesn't and you call and follow up. Simple, anonymous, conveying the sense that everyone is on the same side, and that if a teacher is uncomfortable, that is a major problem and must be solved as quickly as possible. Sort of like 311 makes you feel like the city government is on your side and wants to fix the problems that make the city uncomfortable for you. Empowerment. We humbly suggest 711, but if that's taken, I'm sure there's another 3-digit code out there that would work just fine (007?!).

Later, we headed down to 6th St. for Indian food. Julie explained (that is, I interrogated and she explained!) more about how Americorps works and the philosophies behind it. And then after some talk of doing it again in a month or so, we all headed back out into the cold, starting our weekends.

Don't you wish you were a teacher-blogger here in New York?


Blogger posthipchick said...

uh-oh. i have those same shoes in pink and they were the most painful shoes i've ever worn, EVER. i spent way too much money on them and now they sit in my closet. beware the pumas.
and you inspired me to attempt a meet-up of our own teacher bloggers on this coast.

1:29 PM  
Blogger ms. frizzle said...

We really must be twins separated at birth; we even have the same shoes. They cannot possibly be less comfortable than the ones they replaced, but I will heed your warning and not wear them to work. Hopefully that will prevent the problem. I hope your meet-up is a success!

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great suggestion--a 311 for NYC teachers. You are so right about our union. I have emailed Randi, her VP, my borough rep and DR and have gotten no help. My DR hasn't even responded to my emails.

Maybe one day I will start a blog, but right now I am happy to be reading you and NYC Educator (he has been extremely helpful to me.)

3:08 PM  
Blogger Anonymouph said...

I SOOOOO want to be an NYC teacher-blogger. Not fair!

3:22 PM  
Blogger posthipchick said...

maybe it's a gemini thing?
if you find them comfortable and wear an 8.5, i'll send you mine. let me know.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Ms. Teacher said...

Ms. Frizzle - I'd really like your advice on my most recent post! Have an awesome day! Awkward Silence

4:32 PM  
Blogger Ms. H said...

Someone at my school called 311 to report a rotting animal inside a wall that, despite its having filled a section of the fourth floor with a foul odor, the administration and custodial staff seem not to care about. The principal is pissed about the call.

4:37 PM  

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