Sunday, October 27, 2013

But on the other hand...

French, French, French and teaching French and the students I teach--talk about these topics fills my head and shoots out of my mouth. Just below this post is info about some serious looming problems. Just to level out the talk, I have positive things to say.

1. On the same day that I became a "hag, bag, nag," I was working with French II students in translating, especially showing an easy way to translate long sentences. They were simply spewing out the correct words. I said, "Oh my gosh, do you realize you are reading AND understanding French?!" One girl responded, " That's because we have a good teacher." So there, Nag-man.

2. One of the hostile jeune hommes (young men) broke down and let me help him work through some French issues. He went from hostile (putting his head down and not even attempting the work) to compliant and doing all his work for the day (this was Friday). He scored full points on both activities. And I am proud of him!

There, now I feel better---

Now the ugliness comes...

The latest: after I told a hostile student that he could no longer sit at a computer, he rapped with these ending words--hag, bag, nag. He intended me to hear. Also, he and/or his friends left seven chip bags all around his seating area, plus paper and 2 broken pencils. What is he telling me? Yes, yes, I know--utter disdain and disrespect.

A hostile female student whipped out a blue and white bandana and tied it around her head after arriving in class. I asked if it was permissible to wear (I am so ignorant, or I was until Friday). She said no, and a student behind her, said no, because it was gang colors. So, OK, I'm getting gang messages now? I've sent this girl out of class three times--and NOTHING happens to her.

On Thursday and Friday my car was vandalized, the first time someone jammed a knife into the windshield, sending a foot-long crack diagonally across the driver's side viewing area. On the next day my driver's side rear-view mirror was jerked all the way out of whack, with the intent, I figure, of breaking it off.

So, what plan of action should I take? I'm working on that today....

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Reflections on test scores

The faculty at my school is required to attend weekly TAP meetings designed to teach us better, deeper, more thoughtful lessons to reach every single student. The Master Teachers and the coursework are funded by federal or state grants.

The last lesson was about reflection of each daily lesson plan. Now that I have given and scored my first test, I am putting together some data about the success or lack thereof of the examination. How valid is the test? Too easy? Too difficult? Please be reminded that I allowed the use of notes and study cards, even the textbook during the exam process.

So let's see:
First class: highest grade is a C, 2 D's, and 15 F's. Several were absent. Since this is the noisiest, least responsive, most lethargic, most resistant class, I'm not surprised at all at the grades, especially the F's. These are the talkers, sleepers, cell phone users. Now I know:  I must put on my boot camp sergeant role and force more attentiveness, or pretense if necessary. Call a few parents. What I now know is that the noise makers are preventing the education of others. No A's or B's and only one C.

Second class: One A, 4 B's, 3 C's, 1 D, and 7 F's. Again, the low scores are made by students who refuse to participate. I let them go the first time. Now that I have more control, I feel brave enough to tackle this problem. The first thing I am going to do is re-do seating to break up the pools of cronyism.

Third class: One A, 7 B's, 3 C's, 2 D's, and 7 F's.

Fourth class: 2 A's, 2 B's, 2 C's, 1 D, and 1 F. This is my best class. The F was made by a student who is frequently absent and does not make up work.

Fifth class: 2 A's, 1 B, 2 C's, 2 D's, and 4 F's.

Sixth class: 2 A's, 4 B's, 4 C's, 3 D's, and 12 F's. This class, like the first one, has a seriously large proportion of students who do anything but pay attention.

I think my test is valid since there are A's and B's in every class except that first one.

Should one forget: I allowed the use of notes, assignments, and the text. I figured I would aid those students who took notes and did the work.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Test time in French class!

I declare, but it was an experience giving a test the last two days in my inner-city classes. Just as teens, in general, tend to be communal, to feel a sense of belonging, to feel a part of something, even more so with black teens, that is, most black teens. And they want to do it loud. I think I have finally learned that important lesson. They are not being noisy to spite me (silly girl!)--they're just loud. All? No. There are black loners, too. So any time I think that blacks act a certain way, I have to remember that white teens have their oddities, too.

But I digress, as I usually do. Test taking. Here are some things I discovered.
1. Teens are severely attached to those cell phones. In every class I had to confiscate two cell phones used to find google translator, even though I was clear that cells were not to be used.

2. During reviews when I actually gave an approximation of a test that they worked on, we went over, I discovered how much they had forgotten. As long as I used flash cards in reviewing almost daily, they remembered that particular vocabulary. I stopped and their brains drained out those words. As the assistant principal, former psychology teacher, told me: There's a study that says teens "prune" their brains (not consciously) and get rid of everything but brain growth. If asked why they did something "stupid," they claim they don't know why. My AP says they really don't know. So my French students simply lost a lot of information. Pruned right out. I have drilled conjugations and verb cards over and over and over. "What's conjugation?" they wanted to know. I declare! What's the word for "a?" I could not believe my ears!

3. Some students called me over and over to help them on the test. I did. Those who never asked for help, I asked them if they wanted help. "No, I got this," one boy told me. Some called me over and said, "Ms P, I don't know any of this." I'm sorry, but, folks, I had to remind them that sleeping during class and turning in no work probably played a large role in their lack of knowledge. Besides, I worked so hard during the review process and this same girl talked the entire time. Pity? Got none.

4. One boy who is in trouble with his grade--he tries some, talks a lot, sleeps some-- he called me over and asked if he could do some catch-up work. Absolutely, I told him. If this macho black dude can humble himself to ask for catch-up work, I can certainly grant his request.

5.  On occasion I allow use of various tools to aid and abet during testing. I assign verb cards with their conjugations and flash cards with vocabulary for quick references. Not all students will do them or do them correctly. So for this first test I allowed the use of anything except cell phones and neighbors. A professor once told me that a student should learn something taking a test. I declare, but these students used initiative in using the textbook. Those who had little or no notes had to figure out how to use the text--a challenge, I might add, but they did and found enough answers to carry them through. I was excited they could! I should have taken pictures of all my classes working diligently to find answers and do at least well enough.

 6.Now the funniest, more revealing part of the testing process. In the last class of the two-day period, the most "communal" of classes, I had the wildest experience, as a teacher, with cheating. It was toward the end of class time, when they started slipping verb cards and class notes to each other. They were asking questions and getting answers. I even found one girl with a boy's test paper tucked under her test. The crazy thing is that SHE is the good student--he is middling. They were panicking and doing whatever--you know, the bottom line--to finish their tests. My point is: They cared!--enough to cheat in their panic! I let it happen and thought I had learned something about them--the communal, connected thing. Was I wrong to let them "cheat," if one can call it that since I allowed so much use of notes and such. Next time, I think I'll have neighbor testing, that is, two working together. Aha, I'll put like with like.

I am looking forward to grading these tests. More later....

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.