Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Student Assessment Page (Day 19)

Well, I'm officially a part of the "A Day in the Life" MTBoS blog challenge. But there are a few things that I want to point out about this challenge.

First of all, I chose the 18th as the date of my monthly post. I first stumbled onto this project on September 7th, so I was hoping that the 7th would be my date. But as it turns out, not only is the 7th already taken, but so are all dates from the 8th through the 17th. Again -- that's what I get for arriving late to the party. And so I chose the next available date after today's date -- the 18th. If I want to be included in the final project, I had to select a day that isn't already chosen.

Going back in time, this change means that August 18th -- unlike August 7th -- is past the first day of school, which means that my first monthly post should be for August 18th, not September 18th. To rectify this, I went back and edited my post in order to conform to the challenge requirements. Notice that August 18th was the third day of school -- as well as my first skipped day, since I don't post on school days that are multiples of three. So I had to go back to August 19th (Day 4) and edit in "A Day in the Life" for August 18th.

I also decided to go back to edit my August 12th post, which is supposed to satisfy the "week before students arrive (a PD day)" challenge requirement. As I wrote earlier, this post contains several pages of links (to other MTBoS members) before I finally mention the PD day. This is unacceptable for a post that's to be included in a book, so I indeed edited out all the links.

And so I submitted three posts -- August 12th (a PD day), August 16th (Day 1), and August 18th (my monthly post, which also happens to be Day 3) -- directly to Tina Cardone, the challenge leader. Here is a link to the edited versions of the three submitted posts (actually I left the post on the 16th intact):

A PD Day
Day 1
August 18th (Day 3)

Looking ahead, it turns out that the 18th is a great choice for my monthly posting day. Notice that the 18th doesn't fall on a Monday for a full year -- not until September 18th, 2017, after "A Day in the Life" is completed. Monday is my worst posting day, since the coding teacher takes over. I doubt that Cardone and the other readers want to see "8:25 -- I watch the coding teacher arrive to teach the seventh graders, 10:05 -- I watch the coding teacher arrive to teach the eighth graders," and so on.

On the other hand, notice that my next monthly posting day -- September 18th, 2016, happens to fall on a Sunday. This, at first glance, would seem to be worse than Monday, since on Sunday I won't even be watching anyone teach.

But Cardone actually provides us with five special Reflection Questions, and recommends that we answer those questions instead when our chosen day falls on the weekend. Of course, there's nothing stopping me from answering the Reflection Questions in a Monday post, but there's less time. In short, Monday is the worst of both worlds -- I don't actually teach anything, yet I must go through the motions, thus taking time away from the Reflection Questions.

Oh, and by the way, I usually don't post on the weekend, especially not during the school year. And yes, I know that my "August 18th" post is actually dated the 19th, but that was before I knew about the challenge. From now on, I want to post on the actual 18th of the month to avoid confusing the challenge readers. So expect a rare weekend post on Sunday, September 18th.

For now, let's leave the challenge with a link to one of the other participants. Since today is the 13th, here's a link to Kit Golan, the blogger who chose the 13th as his monthly posting day:


Golan teaches at a New York middle school -- that's right, middle school! Actually, a quick glance at some of the other participants reveals a few other middle school bloggers. That's what I like about these MTBoS challenges -- before them, I had all sorts of trouble finding middle school blogs.

Golan writes that for years, he taught only eighth grade, but now he has both 6th and 7th graders. He writes that he works at a small school that is co-located with another school. This sounds just like the situation with my own charter school -- except it appears the California equivalent of his school would be a magnet, not a charter. Unlike me, Golan doesn't have a support staff aide, but he does have a student teacher.

As of the time of this post, Golan hasn't written his September 13th post, but here's a link to his special First Day of School post:


In this post, Golan writes that his first day is focused on procedures, including a paper-passing procedure that comes from the Wongs and their The First Days of School book. It's a bit confusing though, since so many students arrive and leave at different times.

By the way, here is a link to where Cardone's finished project will eventually go:


So far, none of the posts I submitted have appeared here yet.

Okay, that's enough about MTBoS challenges. Today is the final day of Learning Module 1. With my younger students, I check their foldable notes. For the eighth graders, I will check the traditional texts to see how many pages they have filled in. They should have reached the last page of the current lesson in the traditional text, labeled "Student Assessment."

The main thing I want to mention in this post is my song for Music Break. Coming up with all of the various songs that I sing for music break is quite difficult. As I've written before, I first use a random number generator and convert the numbers into notes, then I come up with a song that both fits the notes and describes what we are learning in math or science.

Now consider the two songs that seem to be the most popular with the students -- Fraction Fever and Count on It. These songs were also the two easiest for me to come up with. The tune of Fraction Fever came from an old computer game -- even though the song has no lyrics and I hadn't heard the tune in over 20 years, it's still easier to add lyrics to a tune that has already been created. And of course Count on It was even simpler, as the entire song comes from Square One TV, so all I had to do was find the song on YouTube and the lyrics from a fan of the old TV show.

Because of this, there will be some days when -- rather than attempt to invent a tune and lyrics from scratch -- I will sing a parody of an established song during my Music Break.

Parodies of popular songs changed for math or science are quite popular. I've mentioned before that several artists have changed Rebecca Black's Friday to "Pi Day," and of course there are also several versions of "American Pi."

For today's parody, I have chosen the classic Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis, My version will change "St. Louis" to "Pomona," because my song will refer to the LA County Fair that takes place in the city of Pomona every September.

At first, I just wanted to repeat the last two syllables, "Meet Me in Pomona-mona," as this directly parodies "St. Louis, Louis." But as I observe the lyrics of St. Louis (in preparation for parodying them), I notice that the second "Louis" is actually a person's name. Fortunately, "Mona" is also a person's name, so the title stands at "Meet Me in Pomona, Mona." In this song, I'm telling an imaginary girl named Mona about all of the science she'll learn by going to the fair. Some of the things that Mona sees at the fair come from the following link:


And here is the parody:


When Mona came up to the school, as she sat,
She hung up her coat and her hat.
She gazed around, but no teacher she found,
So she said "Where can the class be at?"
She remembered the noted, she flipped,
She saw it was a permission slip.
It said, "Hear, hear, it's too slow to learn here,
So let's go on this crazy field trip.

Meet me in Pomona, Mona,
Meet me at the fair.
Don't tell me that I'll learn science,
Any place but there.
The barn will have goats and worms soon,
Kangaroos at the crazy lagoon.
Meet me in Pomona, Mona,
Meet me at the fair!

One thing notable about this song is that, as a science song, the focus is obviously on the animals (and plants) that people can see at the fair. This hopefully will help out my seventh graders, who ought to be focusing on Life Science this year. The science I'll teach them is limited to the projects that appear in the Illinois State text, which seem to be heavier on Physical Science than Life Science.

At the end of the lesson, I give the eighth graders an Exit Pass based on the page that comes right after the Student Assessment Page -- a repeat of the introduction about how some mathematicians were upset to find out that some numbers are irrational. And so my Exit Pass directed the students to write about the discoverer of the irrationality of sqrt(2) -- Pythagoras. One student did remember my story about how he killed the person who gave away the secret. But as the students are still struggling to convert between fractions and decimals, and so I spend more time making sure they can convert than talking about the specific Pythagoras proof.

Well, let's find out how popular my "Meet Me in Pomona" song turns out to be!

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