Just another Manic Monday

My Mother’s Day card by geosaurus.tumblr.com

4 out of the 6 periods I taught were no-brainers – administering exams (3 of my own and 1 coverage).  I’m hoping that this assessment – Trig Applications – goes better than the last one.

My 2 Geometry classes, on the other hand, were nothing short of aerobic.  We began our Spiky Door project last Friday and my students are at various stages of completing their nets.  Stumbling blocks included understanding a 1:2 scale, using a straight edge, finding total surface area, and in some cases, a ‘big picture’ comprehension of the project.  Top it off with my 8-9 ELLs who were out on several days last week – including Friday, the day we started the project – taking the annual NYSESLAT (New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test).  They all needed to be brought up to speed on the project, and I am ever more cognizant of language issues which can remain hidden behind their brightness and compensating mechanisms.  The project launch on Friday went smoothly, so I was completely bowled over by the tidal wave of NEED that gathered as the students attempted to create their nets.

Productive struggle?  Without a clear understanding of what was required of them, many students just waited for me.  The project description I so carefully wrote seems to be too wordy for them. Making mistakes is how we learn, I keep telling myself.

Tomorrow, I will create bulleted and simply illustrated instructions  – as terse as I can make them – and put them in page protectors on the tables.  These instructions will include guiding questions/instructions –

• What is the scale of your net?
• What are the dimensions of the base?
• What is the scale height?
• Find the area of the base.
• Find the lateral area.

…and so on.

I think with some very direct instructions, as well as my employing a few ‘consultants’ from among the students, we may begin constructing tomorrow.

I invited my Assistant Principal in to view the Grand Chaos tomorrow.

1. Amy Zimmer

You are brave! I get so ranky when I make the instructions purposefully less structured so that the students can have some productive struggle and can THINK FOR THEMSELVES and then they grumble or worse yet, stare blankly. We have got to get students over this hump of paralysis.

• Wendy Menard

It’s hard to strike a balance between productive struggle and what they’ll do. And kids who are not unfamiliar with failing grades will throw in the towel, especially on a lovely May afternoon. I also find that many don’t bother to read directions before asking for help. Someday I’ll get this right!