Saturday, August 27, 2011

Three Days in High School - Behavior

I was in a high school in one of the best places to live in the USA.  So the behavior of the students must be taken in that context.  In general, the behavior was, to my relief, pretty good.  I just have a few quibbles.  The problem with allowing iPods and calculators while the students are working is that iPods frequently lead to sharing of the ear buds, and trading ear buds, so a friend can hear this great new song, and playing the music loud enough so that even people without ear buds can hear it.  Then there is the problem with calculators.  Calculators in math class can be very appropriate.  But then, there are the kids who didn't bring their calculator, who want to use their phones instead (which they NEVER forget to bring).  And once the iPods and phones are out, then come the game apps.

I will admit that I didn't stop them.  The teacher had written in his plans that iPods were allowed and that working together was allowed.  And with a 98 or 99 minute class with not enough to do to cover the class time, it was probably good that they had something to amuse them while they sat through the final 30 minutes of class.

But it reminds me again why I do not like block classes.  I suppose if I taught art or science, I would love them.  Finally, enough time to get materials out and do an experiment or get substantial work done on an art project, AND to clean up afterwards.  But for math and foreign language, I don't like them.  98 minutes is too long for one lecture and practice session; and most math teachers don't have lesson plans that split the time into different activities.  For foreign language, I can envision things that would fill up the time in a valid activity - working on skits in small groups, for example.  Maybe in math class, they should plan similar activities - make a poster illustrating today's math idea; watch a math video about the concept.

The last day, I brought with me some math puzzles, and a few kids really enjoyed them.  Perhaps if I were a regular teacher and not a sub, I could develop that part of the lesson more.  It was impressed upon us in sub training, that we were to follow the lesson plans given, even if we thought they were terrible.  But I think beefing up my own bag of tricks for what-to-do-when-the-lesson-plan-has-been-accomplished-and-there-is-still-30-minutes-left would help.

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