Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 34

Two full weeks of school. Only two full weeks after Xmas break and i'm already rundown and sick again. It took about a week and a half to get the kids back into reasonable behavior for teaching to begin, and now we have a four-day weekend. They are going to be a mess when they come back and we'll start the process anew. Will a Ravens win make their behavior better or worse? What about a loss? Who knows.

The higher-ups asked us to have students write letters and poems to Obama and use the time for teaching about the president elect. I made a slideshow about his life which went over really well. About 3/4s of the kids worked hard on their projects, the rest said things like "Fuck that n*****, he ain't helpin' me." Typical! We made a book of student stuff to send to the White House. Unfortunately, the Language Arts support team put together a packet of "suggested activities" which repeatedly spelled Obama as O'bama. And that wasn't the most egregious error in the packet--merely the most o'bvious. Barack does have some Irish in him, so a case could be made....

There were some fights today and the Big Cheese is starting to really hammer teachers about the upcoming standardized tests. We're being pressured in Language Arts to teach to these exams, which test skills I find secondary in importance, like theme/characterization/setting/plot and all that literary analysis jazz. Now, don't get me wrong, these are vital skills, but for students who read three or four years below grade level and for students who can't put together a coherent paragraph at age 13, they can wait. I would prefer a unit on patterns of textual organization and comprehension skills and main idea/supporting details right now...

But that's the kind of stuff which gets tested, so we have to ramp things up and teach it for the next two months. There's a sliver of hope that I'm getting a Smart Board in my room, which would be fucking awesome. I use an LCD projector every day, and it would be nice to be able to manipulate text on a Smart Board with a pen instead of typing changes into Word to project on a screen. I'll know when I get back to class next Wednesday.

A busy weekend--dinner in Fredneck tomorrow (and Obama is in town). Sunday is Cha's birthday, Tuesday we're off to DC. Hope I can find a bit of rest in there somewhere.

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