Friday, December 12, 2008

It Takes Hard Work to Learn Well
The scores on the unit 5 test have me frustrated. For almost every kid who didn't do well, I can pull up many images and instances of them tuning out in class, being off-task with friends, and/or not responding to my abundant requests for them to pay attention, participate, and follow directions. I wish I could make them see the clear connection between their classroom actions and the grades they receive.
For every test item I gave, I could find the part of an assignment, reading, or activity from which and understanding of the content should have been gained. Everything we do in class is important and every assignment I give is important. The kids have to work hard and play along with me in order to learn the science topics and ideas for this year. Hard work seems prohibitively repulsive to some of the kids in my classes.
No matter how much I try to present each lesson with relevance, engagement, structure, and reward, there is still much action required on the part of the kids for the lessons to turn to learning and the learning to turn to understanding. I'm struggling with the whole idea of how much harder I should work to set them up for success, and how much they should have to work to achieve that success. At this point, I believe that it is in their court (and power) to take me up on what I have to offer.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

IRS -- Individual Reward Systems
Here's a thought. What if, instead of having a set of consequences for negative behaviors, I had a set of rewards for positive behaviors? Deposits for being good instead of demerits for being bad. Food? Money? Entertainment? That kind of external reward system doesn't nurture the development of internal motivation, but for some kids it might be novel enough to be effective. Maybe, eventually, "being good" will become rewarding in its own right and they can be weened off of the life-support of external controls.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Creating a Calm and Productive Classroom

The beginning of second quarter creates a clean grade slate for each kid. For those that earned good grades in the first quarter, their efforts will likely continue unabated. For those that didn't, there is a great opportunity for an instantly-rewarding change in class behavior, personal productivity and the increased learning (and grades) that those yield. My role in grades is usually minimal, but based on the fact that there were almost 25% F's in the overall distribution of my classes, I think it is time for me to reign in on some relaxed classroom privileges and impose consequences that have more of a 'cost' to the students than my continual requests for class compliance and self control.

About Me

My photo
Teacher of seventh grade life science in Sunnyvale and Director of the MERIT Teacher Technology Training Program at Foothill College..."Making Education Relevant and Interactive through Technology"