Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life in my Classroom.....part XXII

This may be a bit rambling....please bear with me.

Life has been hectic. I have been dealing with, among a number of other things, I don't quite know how to put it, parring back? To streamline what I am teaching and how I am teaching it.

At my school, we have pretty much been informed by administration that everyone teaching "class Z" should be doing "unit S" at about the same time.....we in my department have encountered that demonic specter of pacing guides, department tests, and that sort of "holding the teachers accountable" type stuff that testing has spewed into many classrooms.

Part of my issue with pacing guides, having to be doing the 'same thing' as my fellow teachers teaching "Class Z", etc., is that I tend to like to delve deeper into certain topics and events in history. As I have been reminded, THIS ("Class Z") is a survey class. Just teach the standards that are rated "highest," as in most likely to appear on the state test. So, why is this a problem for me. Because my students are SO deficient in their knowledge of history and social studies. I try to catch them up, at least a little, in what they did not have the opportunity to be exposed to in their previous two years of school. And in doing so, I get behind.
So I am working hard to get my mind straight to do what I have been directed to do.

I have also been thinking about one of the assignments for my classes. I assign my students "test/quiz corrections homework." This means, when I return a test or quiz to them, they have to correct their errors. Of course, If they earn 100%, they don't have quiz/test corrections homework. There is, of course, a procedure for this; they have to copy the questions they missed and (hopefully), the correct answer into a single statement. If there is a map portion of the quiz/test, they have to draw a copy of the map and correctly label the places they got wrong on the quiz/test. Etc. Etc. They turn in their quiz/test with the corrections homework and earn more points on their quiz/test for correct answers, which can bring up their quiz/test score and their grade in my class.
However, many do not do this assignment. In my grade book, I have a column just to indicate if they turned in their quiz/test corrections homework. Doing so when it is due is worth two points. Turning it in late is one point. Its not much, but.... because many choose not to do these assignments, they end up with a zero score for these assignments. It is only one or two points, but it counts for "homework not turned in" in the grade tallies and report card comments.

My recent thoughts are, should I continue to record if they turned it in or not? One part of me says, drop it. If the student does not want to do their quiz/test corrections homework, they keep whatever grade they earned on the quiz/test and it doesn't add to their "homework not turned in" grade tally. Another part of me says, IF you assign something like this, it counts. If they don't do the work, don't make the effort, they should be docked for it. What do you think ?

Over the past few years, I have been getting less and less school materials from the school district. Maybe this is a way to stretch your paper supplies. Gently used school paper, if clean on one side, can be used again. I have taken to using "recycled" papers to run off some quizzes, packet table of content sheets, class sets of notes, and other things for my classes. Papers that I "recycle" include memos from the office that don't contain student data, old school worksheets, etc. Last summer, in following the lovely Mrs. Polski's directive to "at least go through a FEW of those boxes of "school stuff" stacked up in the Polski garage, I ended up with almost a case of used-on-one-side-only old "Science, US History and assignments for now obsolete textbooks" papers. My students don't seem to mind getting something on "recycled" paper, in fact, some almost crow if they have something they perceive as interesting on the back (used) side of their papers. Once in awhile, those "with their heads in the clouds" or suffering from that middle level syndrome of not paying any attention whatsoever, will later ask me "are we supposed to do this?" and show me the back (used) side of their paper.

[ Here is a brief history note: because there was a shortage of paper in some of the Baltic countries following WW I, one of those nations, prior to being gobbled up by the Soviet Red Machine, used old German Army maps to print some of their postage stamps on the unused side of the map papers. You can find these at times, on ebay and I am sure some other websites. ]

Thanks for bearing with me on this post. I welcome your comments and ideas!