Today in 5th and 6th Grade
Today in 5th grade we are working on division and it seems to be going well, since we started off with dividing by 10s, 100s, and 1000s. I hate how kids brush things off as so "easy" when there is a lot of good math stuff to talk about. We continued to talk about place value, but it seems that kids are more interested in "just tell me the TRICK" when you explain to them that they have to understand first and then maybe discover their own tricks, they become confused. It like that is what they come to expect. (learning tricks)
6th grade is going a whole lot better since I talked to them about persevering with problem solving. We learned about unit rates today and even though the problems were pretty basic, they seemed much more engaged and the loved the fact that they could relate the unit rate to finding the value of one unit in a ratio.
Quizzes and Tests and Concept Checks Oh my!
This year I decided that I was not going to give any quizzes or tests (besides the 4 interm benchmark exams that we have to give) and that I was going to simply give concept checks. My reasoning behind this was that once kids hear the words Quiz or Test they freeze up and their mind goes blank. The concept checks can be taken over and over again until they get it. Isn't that the goal? To get it? One problem I'm running into is that since I'm not making such a big deal about their "Big Test" or quiz, I'm kind of forgetting to prepare them for it, meaning I'm not giving them notice to study. My idea has been, if I teach it you need to know it, so you better study it! I have to work harder on making sure students know when the first concept check for a topic or topics will be so they can prepare.
So I have a really sweet 6th grader and I can tell she struggles a bit (hasn't really passed my concept checks yet, see above) but she isn't clueless, needs a little help getting organized and tightening things up. Her mom is totally on her, which I think is a good thing. She made her come to me after school for extra help but the cool thing is she showed but about 10 minutes later and stayed with us while we worked the problems! She never saw the bar model before so she stayed an learned with us and it was awesome! I wish more parents were like that.
Next up is one of my homeroom kid's parents. My homeroom unfortunately has a problem with following directions in all of their classes. I've already had two kids serve detention and two kids get suspended. Yeah, they are already labeled the "bad class" and it breaks my heart. They are really good kids who make bad choices. So anyway, I'm narrowing down on the real problems of the class and one is a girl who had a bad reputation coming to me. I tried so hard to give her a fresh start and not to listen to her teachers from last year who told me that she was trouble. Well, she is living up to their expectations. So I called home not knowing what to expect other than that this mom was probably called a lot last year to talk about how bad her kid was. I started off by telling her that I wanted to talk about some behaviors I was observing and ask for her help. I said that I've tried talking to the girl privately, using positive reinforcement, praising her everytime I caught her doing good and it was not working. I was so worried how the mom would react but she was really supportive and receptive! I'm not sure if its going to make a difference in the girls behavior, but I at least feel like it was a good step. I always hate to contact parents without something good to say (although I told her I thought her daughter was a really great kid...which I do! She just makes bad choices) so it was nice to have a positive interaction.