Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Student Journal and Whiteboard Review (Days 47-48)

Well, the visitors from the charter office arrive in my classroom after lunch. This is during Math Intervention time, and sixth graders are using the computer at this time. Fortunately, all of us teachers have our classrooms ready for the visitors.

Now that this visit is complete, the focus now switches from preparing my room for the observation to preparing my class for the day I'm out with a meeting. Yes, Dr. Brad Christensen of Illinois State will be meeting me to discuss the text and the STEM projects from 10:30-12:30 tomorrow.

First of all, it's time to deal with our weekly Wednesday madness -- it seems as if every week, the Wednesday schedule is different! As it turns out, the music teacher is going to be out of town for two weeks, returning on November 9th -- apparently he said this directly to the students last week and didn't inform any of us teachers (recall that I didn't see him last week at all due to the first Illinois State observation).

Without music on the schedule, my Wednesday might look like this:

8:25 - 9:15 6th Grade
9:20 - 10:10 8th Grade (online software for science?)
10:15 - 11:05 8th Grade
11:05 - 11:20 Nutrition
11:25 - 12:15 7th Grade
12:15 - 12:45 Assembly (there's always one the last Wednesday of the month)
12:45 Dismissal to lunch, teachers prepare for Common Planning meeting

Notice that when the music teacher is here, seventh graders have music in my room after nutrition, and eighth graders have music during the "science" period in the history room. When this happens, I once took the seventh graders instead so they wouldn't fall a day behind.

On the other hand, when the music teacher is out, I have an extra hour with eighth grade. Again, in the past, I've used that extra period for science, since eighth graders have an NGSS test.

My original plan for tomorrow, according to the pacing plan, was to have a whiteboard review lesson before giving the Module 4 Quiz on Thursday, which is Day 49. Before I found out about the music situation, I wanted to take the seventh graders in during eighth grade music. This way, I get to see all three grades before the Illinois State meeting. But now the cancellation of music throws a wrench in things -- the seventh graders only have my class during the time I'm out.

Now here's the other thing -- I don't know whether there will actually be a sub or not! When I ask the administration about a sub today, I don't receive a straight answer. It could be that my support staff member will be leading the class tomorrow. The worst-case scenario is that she could be out too -- in which case there should be a sub present. The history teacher has already told me that he'd come in for a minute or so to make sure that the students are working.

Indeed, the history teacher had suggested that I not give a whiteboard lesson, since students would take advantage of a sub and just draw whatever they want on the boards. Come to think of it, only once during my own days as a sub had I ever been directed to give a whiteboard lesson -- and it was the case where students wrote their responses in a game of Jeopardy on the boards (at a continuation school with other support staff present). Instead, it would be much better just to give them questions on a worksheet.

So my plan is to give the sixth graders the whiteboard lesson, as well as the eighth graders from their arrival time until 10:30 (so there is no science lesson). Then the eighth graders spend the last 30 minutes of class completing the worksheets, and the seventh graders will spend the entire time working on them.

Meanwhile, this also messes up the homework plan that I mentioned in yesterday's post. I didn't realize that I wouldn't see my seventh graders at all tomorrow. Suddenly a sub might have to be the one to collect all of the homework. Even though I warned them today that the work is due tomorrow, I can easily see -- and this is from my experience as a sub myself -- the students telling tomorrow's sub that the work is due Friday and refusing to turn in the work. In this case such a reaction would be understandable -- the very first time I make homework due on a Wednesday is also the first time that I'm not in the classroom on Wednesday.

Between today's charter office visit and tomorrow's meeting, there's much on my mind, but not too much that I couldn't write today's song:


Square root of 1 is 1,
Hey, this is so much fun.
Square root of 4 is 2,
So here's what we should do.
Square root of 9 is 3,
So let's all come and see.
Square root of 16 is 4,
So please show us some more.
Square root of 25 is 5,
And now I feel so alive,
Square root of 36 is 6,
So now there ain't no more tricks.

Cube root of 1 is 1,
Hey, this is so much fun.
Cube root of 8 is 2,
So here's what we should do.
Cube root of 27 is 3,
So let's all come and see.
Cube root of 64 is 4,
So please show us some more.
Cube root of 125 is 5,
And now I feel so alive,
Cube root of 216 is 6,
So now there ain't no more tricks.

The "Day in the Life" blogger whose monthly posting day is the 25th is Leigh Nataro, who works at a private high school in Pennsylvania:


It's interesting that a teacher whose username is mathteacher24 would choose the 25th as her monthly posting day -- but yesterday's teacher likely already took the 24th before Nataro could claim it. Now she hasn't written her October 25th post yet, but here's a very relevant post of hers from earlier:


Officially this is Nataro's September 25th post, but she didn't post it until October 1st. Notice that the 25th is always exactly one week after my own posting day of the 18th, and so we were both stuck with Sundays in September. She chose to write about the next day, Monday 9/26, instead. (After all, I almost did the same thing, devoting most of my Sunday 9/18 post to the Friday 9/16 field trip.)

But look at the subject of Nataro's post -- "Damage Control: the Day After a Sub." She writes:

This post will be about Monday, September 26th, or as I like to call the day after being out, "Damage Control Day".  Experience has taught me that sometimes only a portion of what is listed is done.  Creating plans based on the assumption that the sub would know math is usually not a good idea.

And so it's only fitting that I read this post just before my own sub day tomorrow. Apparently, I need to watch out for my own "Damage Control Day" on Thursday. Nataro writes that she was lucky enough to have a math teacher as a sub. (As a sub last year, I did try to take math positions if any were available, but most of the time it wasn't a math position, as you saw by reading this blog.)

On the other hand, I should expect to need a Damage Control Day, since I'm not even sure whether I'll even have any sub, much less a math sub!

I'm also starting to wonder with all of this mess concerning the whiteboard review and homework, whether I should just give the quiz on Friday instead of Thursday, at least for seventh grade. Notice that Nataro actually did give a test the first day she returned:

C Period - PreCalculus (40 minutes)
Today is the first test of the year in PreCalculus.  There are 4 sections of PreCalc and we have created 4 versions of the test.  As I write my answer key as the students take the test, I notice that there is an error on one of the 4 versions of the test!  The problem can still be solved, but it isn't a comparable question in terms of difficulty.  Ugh!  Even working together with a colleague on the test over a period of two days, we didn't catch this glitch.

But again, she had a math sub who could help the Pre Calc students prepare. I must assume that I'll need Damage Control as my seventh graders will come up with all sorts of excuses why they won't be able to take the quiz on Thursday.

And besides, there's another reason why I could wait until Friday to give the quiz. Notice that Friday, being Day 50, is the first day of Module #5 and a new STEM project. But this project may require the students to go outside -- and rain is in the forecast for Friday. So pushing the quiz (which they can take indoors) back to Friday could push the outdoor activity back to, hopefully, a dry day. (This is not to mention that seventh grade already lost a day due to last week's earthquake drill!)

This is a two-day post -- and I really did spend it discussing both days (between today's visitation and tomorrow's meeting). There's no post tomorrow due to it being Day 48, a multiple of three -- not because of the possible sub situation. My next post will be Thursday.

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