Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Something Something Something, feeling fine.

"I must say, today was a good day." - Ice Cube

Interesting, I had minimal difficulty with my students today. With the trends that have been going on for me, I would have to call this a success!

Questions for reflection:
What did I want the students to do?
What worked?
What didn't work?

Fifteen minute silent reading is starting to get incorporated into our lessons. It's a new plan, and I have to try to cover all the other new policies, so I work on this last. At the last minute, I am able to come across some scientific american articles that might be worth reading, (improving male chromosomes, increasing intelligence) I mean come on! Why would they not want to know how to become smarter? I totally believe it if my students brains shut down when they come across very low frequency, high level academic words. They do not know what it is, so now they don't care. I am almost the same way! Except I already have it in my system to find out what it means and/or find meaning for it in the text. They need more options if they get stuck so quick.

Anyways, the next part of the day is something new I started. I got the idea from Harvard Physics Professor Eric Mazur. He GIVES his students Cornell notes on the lesson he would be teaching, and the students would revise his notes to their understanding.

We are also suppose to implement student centered learning in the classroom which is fine by me. My only trouble is finding the guiding moments with the independent moments for the students. The new plan with this Mazur strategy is to write questions that build up to the students levels of reading and learning. They cannot directly find the answer on the slide of information of notes that I provided to them. They need to understand the point I am getting across from the notes, and then answer the question as a follow up to understanding.

These questions start off simple with identifying the little things I would hope they would know by now, and then have them do some calculations in the end as well as graphic interpretation. To me, this is HUGE for them.

So how did it go? Well leaving it to them does not mean they will do it. Some students get quickly frustrated when I try to re-explain something. I have been told to bring it down to their level. It's like asking me to water down tonic. I can only go so low because I do not want to say "the top thing with the bottom thing." I will not sink that low. They need to expand their vocab, which is starting to turn out to be my new job.
Depending on who is in the class will make or break the assignment. Wilbur and Susie come to every class period but still fail, they completely block any chance of passing when they do not submit themselves to the assignment and choose to do other off task adventures. That affects the other students in the class as well if they get caught under their cyclone.

Ive called home, i've made action plans, nothing. Like I said though, I had a better day because it ends on a better note.

My last class did everything I needed them to do, and they were able to do it without much complaining. I had to have a few encounters with some students but once that was taken care of, everything else fell into place. They were able to focus on the material, ask me questions about the questions I wrote, and made my job feel a little easier.

I am not saying what didn't work was to leave it completely up to the students to get the work done, I like to help them, especially when they struggle in math and science. It's getting them to get to the work is the issue. I try to give them questions they can answer that lead to the overall understanding of the topic. If they do not try, they will not learn anything.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You need to make some magic happen

I am blogging to blog right now, but I am trying to get out there what I am going through.
Also I found out that I am part of another New Teacher program which I am sort of alright with. Let's put on more work for the first year teachers that have enough going on as it is. More blogging might be required. Sweet!

Anyways, I have to find a way to raise test scores or I am out of a job. Hopefully that is not entirely accurate. Let's try to work some miracles. I have a variety of issues with the students on trying to get this accomplished.

There are a few students that do not want to get help from me when I go near them. These problem children have some rough stuff going on I guess if their attitudes suck when you try to be nice to them.

Another student who had higher scores before with practice exams told me the other day that he decided to get high before taking the test. This would have to be my fault. Really?

I will take blame for some things, but not for that. What we might put in for the students is that it is never their fault, well, not directly. My issue is that they are given so many rights with little responsibility.

We had this awesome plan of "team" action, but the "season" is coming to an end and some are not getting geared for anything. I want to help them succeed, but their inner struggles interfere with that.

I saw this TED video my roommate posted the other day. I agree with much of it, but it is difficult to see it come into play for my students. It's a very interesting bunch. There are times they perform, but for most of them, it is never at the right time.

The only epiphany I reached this week was that if there is a student is notorious for being a school-wide problem, DO NOT TAKE WHAT THEY SAY SERIOUSLY. Especially when it comes to talking about your class. They have nothing to lose, and will only try to get you to lose more as their only form of gain.

Today was AWESOME! It's saturday but the students came in (some of them) to catch up on work and get more attention to do it. I bring food for stuff like this, it makes things go a little better. I saw a few of my students "make some magic happen" by improving their grades nearly 20%. They hung out, had to keep them on task now and then, and got really upset when I had to leave early. Bummer. I like it when they make some magic happen.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow Daze

We ended the first semester last week, and the second semester has not officially started because of the snow days. I knew that CPS has not taken days off of school, even though other school districts have fairly when needed, since 1999. I'm not going to lie, it was awesome having those days off. It was a break that I needed. Unfortunately, not everyone that worked CPS had off, the principals and other higher up personnel had to make it to the schools, and I have no idea why they decided that! It looked to brutal out to go anywhere.

Something I heard about all of this is that this was the 4th snow day or snow session in 18 years for CPS. Yes, CPS has some kinks to work out. It starts later than the other schools, so it ends later than the other schools, I am afraid with these snow days I took, the school year will have to end a couple days later. I wonder how many people in the system are against moving up the school year a week or two? It sounds better than trying to keep the kids settled in the middle of June. The first week of June is fine to end it, but there is probably some strict reason why they don't change it, oh well, I digress.

The new semester is underway, I have a good outline setup, and then there is ACT hanging over my head. I feels like im in the front line of an army when it comes to this. They do have a plan to improve on their scores by working on specific strands. I get lost with how to improve their strands basically because of the selections of strands, and the majority of the attitudes of the students continually destroying their abilities to try to do better.

The strategy to get them to do better is something I would back up all the way. It's like fantasy football, only the teachers pick students to play for their team and then coach them to do better on the ACT, it's awesome! My team was tied for first but hopefully we can win out to get back up there. Now we are at .500. I want us to end with a winning record, but the factors of attendance and student self control always get in the way, bummer.

This week has been nice, I have a black history project plan where the students submit a podcast poetry slam on an inventor they picked. If I knew how to deliver an assignment like this to them, I know they would do awesome with it. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm OK

OK, I apologize for not keeping up with this. Let's go through an update shall we...

School: VOISE Academy High School, very new, very CPS!
Grade: Juniors (maybe not by credit count, but they have been here 3 years, and for those who graduate next year will become the first graduating class of this institution. Those who do graduate I severely admire.

Subject: Physics, just Physics, so it makes it really nice to prepare for one subject rather than 3 of them at once.

Colleagues: I'd eat fire for them.

I've come to a point in all this and realized that Physics is hard, especially now when I am trying to teach it to west side Chicago kids that may not have had a strong academic upbringing. When I took it in high school, everything clicked. It made sense, and I can do the work in a snap. This morning I can only think of two students in that class with me when I was younger who had maybe a minor struggle with it. One tried to audio record the lesson, and I might have helped him once or twice, and the other I never talked to. We all might have done a Lab experiment together at some time, but I do not remember how it went for them. If I were to see my teacher, I would like to ask him how he did this with struggling students.

Things would work out easier if I could understand the students better on a more social level. Not know them but understand them, like why they act the way they do and for the ones with issues, how come they do not know better, and when we tell them it's wrong they still don't get it? A sour attitude is not necessary to someone trying to build a better future for them.

I do give thanks for the respectful ones that have to put up with my anguish to the others. The good news is IF I survive this class, everything would turn out for the better for the years to come, but that's why they say IF.

I am just trying to go with the flow around here, It's easier for a lot of teachers here, that's why I wrote this. Again, these teachers are great and they may not have a minor struggle like I do.
Hopefully it's just lack of motivation that's going on is all.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Intro

This blog was intended to be written at the end of june / late july, just as a way to put posts up...

A splice of my principal's email days prior to our first meeting as new faculty of an auspicious school...

"Some of you asked what exactly are we looking for during the community gathering on Wednesday, so my best answer is for you to go to my profile on the website."

see enclosure link>>>
Here are some parts that caught my attention that will help me figure out why I am at this new school.

"I felt cheated that our academic potential was never really fulfilled. We were given what was believed we could handle, and we all did it well - teachers and students - but were we ever challenged?"

I like to challenge people just as much as I like to be given a challenge. Does that not sound perfect for a teacher?
"I feel that if a student wants to put in the work, then NOTHING should be off limits. "

If ANYONE basically wants to put in the work, then nothing should be off limits. (i.e. Response blog)

We want you to be transparent, "what are you doing this?" "what is important to you about education?" "why is this work, especially in an urban area important?"
It doesn't have to be as long that, but it should be reflective.

This post was to be made near end of june/early July. Perhaps we will see changes in view over time. Hopefully for the better. The release on this was beginning of march the proceeding year.