Friday, March 20, 2009

The "end" is in sight.

There were a lot of things that were great about today.
  • The kids did an awesome job setting up for the tournament; we finished up much earlier this year than last.
  • After set up was done, we hit a local eatery and found colleagues there still enjoying congenial beverages. Excellent conversations were had and some good catching up was done with folks from other departments.
  • We found the elusive draw envelopes.
  • Only one student from second hour failed to turn in his research paper on time.
There was also some crap.
  • I inadvertently hurt a friend's feelings. Thankfully, she was brave enough to tell me about it.
  • A student who I've been struggling to keep on track had a spell today and I'm at my wit's end about the situation.
  • It's past my bedtime, I can't sleep, and I have a very early morning tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Survival of the survivalists?

I can't even pretend to say it's survival of the fittest right now. I've been at school until 5 so far this week. Yesterday, it was silliness and speechifying.

Today it was more calls to parents whose students are failing my class. My eleventh graders are not even really trying to swim. Three sets of guardians I can't reach: full voice mail boxes, never home, not at work.

A few of the stragglers are getting their acts together, but there are two who probably won't make it. One seems to be struggling with the idea of making up work from absences, and the other seems to have lost the will to do anything. She's told her counselor she's not depressed, but she only finishes work when I'm literally sitting three feet away reminding her to keep her head up and do her work. To catch up, she would need to stay after school daily so I can do the reminding routine, but she won't. Her parents are at their wits end, and so am I.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Chance to Change the World?

A friend of mine from college help put Ruby's Bequest together, and I think it seems cool, even though I don't really understand it.

Since I don't quite get it, I'm stealing ARGNet's explanation:

The Institute for the Future once again opens a window into tomorrow’s world, this time letting us peer into 2010 where in the town of Deepwell a woman’s mysterious will has the townsfolk in an uproar. On December 7, 2009, the citizens of Deepwell learned that a woman named Ruby Wood left a “substantial” sum of money to their town, but with one condition - that the townspeople learn to take better care of each other. Who is Ruby Wood? No one in the town seems to know. The town will learn more when the last will and testament of Ruby Wood is opened on March 9, 2010.

In order to get a little outside help and advice on caring, the citizens of Deepwell have launched a website called Ruby’s Bequest, along with a town blog, Deep Into Deepwell, where citizens can discuss the bequest and other town interests. Accusations of being “the town that doesn’t care right” and the tragic death of an elderly citizen have upset many of the townspeople and sparked a debate about caring.

Monday, March 9, 2009

So, the Cellphone Issue

I'm feeling stuck on this one. On one hand, if I see another kid texting under their desk, I might just chuck the gosh darn thing out the firckin'-frackin' window. On the other, I see Scott's point, and Vicki's, too.

Kids are carrying around wicked-awesome technology all the time; there's no way they're going to leave them at home, and if they have them with them, they're going to use them, unless we all go the way of Spokane's schools. Why not let them use their phones like game show clickers, or planners, or itty-bitty web surfers?

I'll tell you why I'm not.
  1. I feel like it's one more thing for me to figure out and take time out of my curriculum schedule to teach
  2. There is a have and have-not issue in my school. I don't see this as a huge deal: in fact, I think folks who are scared of cell phones in the classroom are using it as an excuse. I do know some of our kids don't have them, though, and I'm not going to make things tougher for kids who can't afford them, or whose parents actually keep them unplugged for some potion of the day.
  3. This is the biggest one: I don't think I can keep it under control. I don't want kids having their phones stolen off their desks, and I can't keep my eye on all of them, all the time to keep them on task. I know Dan would think it was probably my fault, but I'm afraid that my "with-it-ness" starts to decrease in inverse proportion to the number of kids in my class over 34. I'm exhausted.

Monday, March 2, 2009

March Already?

This quarter is flying by. I can't believe we only have four weeks left until spring break and the end of the term.

Honors has been a wild ride, made more so by my absences, planned (IB curriculum writing) and un (I've had a sinus infection for going on four weeks now, and the meds I just finished haven't helped). We started speeches only a day late last week, but since I had been out when their outlines were due, it still feels completely out of whack.

I'm reaching the end of my rope with my 11th graders. Some of their skills are so low. The curriculum is super literature heavy, but their writing needs a ton of work. I feel pressured to get through everything--I have to get through Huck Finn, and we haven't even finished Romanticism. Today I returned their comparison essays--Thoreau vs. Decl./Ind. or the Speech at the Virginia Convention--with only a letter grade, then posted a list of the problems I found and asked them to assess their own essays and then do a re-write. We'll see how it turns out--the rewrites are due on Wednesday.