drawing by Alice Axelbank
Some days are simply amazing – everything seems to fall into place. Friday was such a day.
It isn’t quite something that can be explained – I strive to “push the right buttons” every day yet the outcome varies.
I’ll take the fifth period as an example, though the highlight of the day happened before that (yeah, wait for it!).
I had the two weak 10th graders, who are particularly fond of punching each other on the shoulder, working up by the white board. I wrote two sentences on the board, a sentence with each of their names (using vocabulary they need for their test) and left them to figure them out. Every five minutes or so they called me to see what they had done and give them two more sentences. They weren’t exactly quiet (and they did punch each other on the shoulder) but that didn’t bother anyone and they were working!
Meanwhile,two students were practicing their vocabulary at the Y.A.L.P word station. We discovered a new “tutor” star – seems this student is very creative at giving helpful tips to remember words! Two more students were working at the computer on their literature log (we’re learning “An Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins). The remaining three students were doing review sheets for their upcoming exam and I was moving from one to another. Kids talked and laughed but everyone was working and we got a lot done! The atmosphere was so relaxed and productive!
The highlight of the day was when one of the ‘”problematic” 10th graders sought me out during the break. She wanted to discuss her homework, or rather lack of homework. She hasn’t done homework once since the beginning of the year even though she got several demonstrations of what to do. I even let her begin one of the tasks in class so as to get her going. Nothing.
However, I think peer pressure began to influence her. She sought ME out to discuss homework on her break! Since the class computer was hooked up to the Internet, the students can easily get as much help with their online homework as they need (either extra explanations before handing in the task or quick feedback on their work afterwards) the number of students who do homework regularly has improved dramatically. Only 5 pupils out of 59 don’t do homework!
She told me that she doesn’t have WORD on her home computer and that she can’t seem to do it at school I suggested a solution (have done this with another student and it worked really well) – I paste the task into the content space of an email and she replies there. Still, this student has to take action first – she must send me an email!
Miracles don’t happen over night (haven’t received an email from her yet) but I feel the classroom culture has changed in regards to homework and it is such a good feeling!