Mark Barnes recently posted…5 Websites That Make Language Learning More Interactive ]]>

Mark Barnes recently posted…6 Bad Reasons Teachers Assign Homework and Why Each One Sucks ]]>

Mark Barnes recently posted…6 Bad Reasons Teachers Assign Homework and Why Each One Sucks ]]>

I have policies set by the school board about how many grades I have to have, policies by the state about the topics I have to cover.

No direct instruction? Everything I teach is extremely hypothetical and abstract. Sometimes I can find real world uses but often the real world requires things much simpler than I’m teaching… or much more complex. That’s why word problems in books tend to be so contrived. In fact, I started out trying to do a flipped classroom model… but my students refused to read at home, some didn’t have net access so Khan Academy was out (and the school actually blocked YouTube). The only way to actually get information to my students was to tell it to them in class.

Worksheets and homework? The school mandated a certain grade split. Mathematically, if I gave my students perfect scores on all formative assessments, they’d only need a 25% on the summative ones to pass the course. 25% doesn’t show knowledge mastery. Heck, I started out the year flabbergasted at how little my students knew from previous classes.

No rules and consequences? I have kids literally throwing things at each other, attacking each other, and vandalizing school property. There’s a difference between a chaotic classroom that allows learning and a chaotic classroom that distracts from learning.

More than one way to learn… I keep looking for this, and see strategies, and it seems all of them are written for other classes or lower grade levels. I have no idea how to apply any of them to the very abstract concepts found in high school math.

Keep kids connected? This was my biggest bane! I gave kids classroom time to work on assignments, while I’m there to help. Some kids used that time and help. Others? Well, the school gave all the students laptops, so they had Flash games, Netflix, or Tinder that were far more interesting than math.

And then there’s the SE2R method. My first thought? “I’m already killing myself trying to get on top of all this grading, and now I’m supposed to grade assignments repeatedly?” I have students who give up as soon as they get a 70, students who have been conditioned to expect passing grades from doing halfass jobs (especially when I express concern to the administrators and they ask me if I could drop a few zeroes to bring grades up so we don’t lose funding), and students who could get hundreds but it would be too much work.

These seem like excellent tips for dealing with students who come already motivated to learn, in districts where the teachers have more flexibility in number of assignments and grade weights. But many of them seem terrible to use with students who have already lost a love of learning… which is many high school students.

]]>Mark Barnes recently posted…5 reasons homework destroys learning ]]>