Wednesday, February 08, 2006


maybe your anxiety is that you just need somebody to hold you...

Well, yeah. But that's a tough prescription to fill on-demand, y'know? And in the meantime, I'd like to be able to breathe. So, after a chat with a nurse practitioner, I have a small bottle of an anti-anxiety med. We agreed that (a) it could be a little freaky to try to teach on this stuff and (b) just having the bottle in my purse will probably keep the problem at bay, so it seems likely that I will never or rarely take any, but I have it. Do not dismiss the power of the placebo: just calling the doctor yesterday made today 90% better.

Meanwhile, rollercoasters. I introduced the lesson to my third sixth grade class, and started the second day with another class. The second day was so much better than the first - it might not be a disaster after all! And the kids love it. I modeled (poorly) how to make a scale drawing, and why we need them. And then the kids set off to work again. In thirty minutes, at least four of the six groups had built a rollercoaster that fit within the parameters and which the little ball could complete. The other two groups? In the words of one of the kids, We made progress!

What I might not have mentioned yesterday was that I put them in groups based around friendships. Not just any friendships, but friendships that appear to me to be strong partnerships. These are kids who, placed in separate groups, will find ways to chat across the room, pass notes, etc., but when placed together, might really rise to the occasion and produce excellent work. At least, that was my theory. I very rarely group them this way, but it's good to switch things up once in a while and to build on existing strengths as often as possible. In such a high-energy, interactive task, why create groups that are going to fall prey to infighting and distraction when I could create groups based around existing positive relationships? Of course, these groups were based on my observations and each group had to have at least four kids, so they are not perfect. One interesting thing was that when I started thinking about which kids spend time together, confide in each other, and so on, I realized how much their friendship groups break down by race and gender. There are exceptions, but across the board, the Hispanic kids tend to be friends with each other, the Black kids with each other, and boys with boys, girls with girls. I hope no one looks in my room and thinks I'm dividing them up by race! Anyway, I told the kids exactly what I had done, and that I hoped they would show me that this was a good choice - and so far, they have. There are some real powerhouse teams out there composed of children who might have spent a lot of time arguing if placed with people they don't particularly like.

Anyway, while they got a lot done today, and weren't exactly arguing, the voices were raised a bit more often, the "discussions" a bit fiercer. Maybe it was just because it was sixth period. Hmmm.

The whole project is a lot of fun. The kids were eager to show off their successes, inviting me over to watch the little ball zoom through the tube (I usually cannot even see it until it comes out the other end). High fives all around. Tomorrow, they will have to reconstruct today's work using their scale drawings, which will hopefully strengthen their understanding of the scaling process itself. And then they will have to tweak and re-tweak until they slow down the coasters as much as they can.


Wow, it's been a whole year of Education Carnivals. I must admit, I was skeptical at first. Here was this new big-shot, just started blogging and wants to put on a carnival... but I was won over. I'll hand it to EdWonk, he's done a fantastic job and it's been good for everyone.


Anonymous the lil sis M-dawg said...

After I graduate can I come coach Destination Imagination and start a running club at your school? I could be like a professional extra curricularist...

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you're feeling more calm soon! I've had the same symptoms you described and a few things helped. Drinking water for some reason stopped me from being as jittery. I had to cut out the cafeine, especially ice tea. And if possible lying down (even in the staffroom) for even two or three minutes really helped me relax. I'd feel panicky in the weirdest places. Walmart was really bad for some reason. When I finally went to a doctor, simply putting a warm blanket over me instantly helped me breathe. I carried those pills around for a year and never took them. Knowing I had them was enough. Hope that helps!

7:02 PM  

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