Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 26

Today I was back in front of the classroom, so there was a fair amount of preparation for that to start. The big thing up today, which I didn't notice until Mr. Phys came in wearing all black sport clothes with some black electrical tape "eyeblack," that Mr. CT was wearing all black in preparation for the big scholastic bowl showdown, teacher vs. student, today. I never really got into competitive nerdery back in high school, unless you want to count marching band (and for our school you shouldn't), so this was all a very new phenomenon for me.

Mr. CT wants us to get a week ahead to smooth out collaboration interactions with Ms. Bio. We're running about two days behind that goal currently, which is way better than we used to be but still behind the curve. So I've been working on tooling up some stuff so I can get next week's stuff all set away.

The craziness of today really happened during advisory period. A girl had come in to say she was going to make up the lab from yesterday. Apparently by, "I'm going to come in during advisory and make up the lab," she really meant that three people were going to come in during advisory and make up the lab as a group. So I set them on their merry way and Domingo came in to work on his part for Science Olympiad, another competitive nerdery thing with which I am relatively unfamiliar. I did a little thing my school put on two of the years I was there, but the only thing we really prepared was the egg catchers that we had to make. Domingo was working on the the Forensics portion, one of which was identifying compounds from a list. I had stayed after school a little to see Mr. CT and Domingo and another guy who had previously been involved with Science Olympiad while they worked out at least that section of the competition. So today he came in and just wanted to test how well his procedure worked, so I would go and get something from the back storeroom and his job was to tell me what it was. He did really well, correctly identifying four of the compounds in the period, with me going back into the storeroom after each one and picking out a new one for him. This makes the event, at least this part of it, a lot less intimidating than it appeared.

I did my thing for Chem 1, which was...ok. I guess. It may be an intrinsic fault of the "stand in front of a group of high schoolers and lecture for 46 minutes straight," form of teaching, but I could feel myself being boring. Student teaching is a strange experience, every day is a new opportunity to fail at some other part about being an effective teacher. Today I felt I had a good presentation and was well prepared for it, just the presentation of myself was only blah. There's a picture I've been drawing in my notes for it that I'll scan and show another time, but I can see the boredom in their faces. At least I got to supersaturation so I could show the reusable heat pack that we keep around, and that perked them up.

Also, there's a big problem around problem-solving in the class. If they are given a formula that they just have to plug in the numbers we give them, then they do alright. But today, all the math we were doing was about solubility, whether a solution is saturated or unsaturated. These are generally one-step problems. However, asking things like finding whether a solution is saturated or unsaturated just met with some serious confusion for some of my students. It's an interesting problem to try to tackle, because there are some problems that, if you know how to solve a problem and you have some number sense, you can give the answer just by looking at it. However, if you don't have number sense or don't have a problem-solving mindset it's just completely opaque, no matter how I break it down it might as well be Sanskrit. Maybe I'm just bad at it, which I will admit is a perfectly reasonable explanation, but it seems that the method of instruction I'm using, in an attempt to learn Mr. CT's teaching style, seems especially poorly suited to this strong differential in ability. I have the choice of boring the top or blowing past the bottom, and I'm most likely doing both at the same time. We'll see if I can address this with the math day we have planned in the future.

I also broke a flask today. I feel like such a chump when I break glassware, and I swear I've broken more glassware in the few weeks I've been in this classroom than I ever have in my career up until this point.

The Chem 2 students had a quiz today on naming chemical compounds, and I think it broke them. There was a distinct air of dejection around a lot of the students after their quizzes. Not really sure how I can help out there, though.

Since Mr. CT had to get ready for Scholastic Bowl after school, he gave me his bus duty, so I loitered outside as an adult in case kids started doing something especially stupid. Nothing happened, so it ended up being a slightly boring time in the nice weather. The one thing I did get to see was one of my more bored/sleepy students acting animated and excited for a once, which was a nice change of pace.

I stopped in on the Scholastic Bowl, and the teachers were winning, but the students were in the process of staging a strong comeback. I realized I'd probably be pretty awesome at scholastic bowl, but whatever.

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