I spent the weekend catching up on grades (I should have a handle on this now, right), and so my lesson plan for monday was weak.
However, I’ve got a lot of students doing poorly, and they’re going into a must succeed semester (In middle school, the most important one to them is the last semester of 8th grade, because it’s the only one where their grades have any real consequence).
So, I gave them a couple of writing prompts – starting off with their successes, and transitioning to things they could improve, examining the causes behind those previous failures, and how they could address those causes.
Example – rather than just saying “do my homework” I wanted them to identify why they didn’t do homework – lack of time, lack of resources at home, not knowing how to do it once they got home, forgetting what the assignment was, and then coming up with a way to address that issue.
To finish it off, I gave them two questions for me, done as shout outs rather than writing:
(1) What can Mr K. do to help you learn better?
(2) Now that you’ve beat up on him, what has he done well?
The first question elicited a lot of responses, few of them related to actual learning: more pizza parties (which i don’t even do, so i don’t know where they got “more” from), more free time, supply food and drinks in the classroom, provide music, stop matching my socks to my shirt.
However, the second question fed into the first. As they listed off the things they appreciated (the jeopardy game, using individual whiteboards, how I do my explanations, the pacing of certain lessons, using goofy questions about dragons instead of yet another question about buying CDs, providing easy review lessons on the days they had subs, letting them occasionally get silly for a minute or two) they returned to the other list, and pointed out times when I hadn’t followed those steps.
In all it was a good exercise, and I’ve got some things to think about changing for next semester.
I’m still going to match my socks to my shirts, though.