Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blog (v): To read, write or edit a shared online journal.

I'm struggling a little with the performance levels of many of my students. Some of them seem excessively needy, and don't have the confidence to complete their work unless they are copying off of someone else or asking me every 2 seconds if "this is right". I know were still in the early weeks of school, but some kids were really disappointed with the progress reports they got today (we report once every three weeks). I'm trying to remain positive, because my attitude affects theirs. I'm looking for ways to effectively reach all the kids in the class. It's really been a learning experience for all of us.

Homecoming is October 23rd. It's apparently a football game, and a dance... or more than one dance... and some other events during the week leading up to it. Yup, Another GAHST (Great American High School Tradition) that I've only seen of in TV and movies. Some get totally into it, and some don't. There is a Homecoming Court, with a Queen and all. The school hosts a formal dance, and apparently in the past some parents have organized an "invitation only" dance at a local civic center. Sounds a little controversial, and I'm not sure why it's allowed. But, since it's not a school sponsored event, we really don't have much say.

The first round of SATs are also written in October. Mostly, it's for juniors, who need their scores before they can start applying to colleges and universities. Seniors write it, too... if they haven't yet, or if they did and they want to try to improve their score. I guess sophomores can write it as well... Practice maybe. It costs money each time you take the test. When I told my students that kids in Canada don't write SATs, they were jealous.

In preparation for these tests, the school has DIVE words every week. Usually about five of them... these are words that have appeared on tests in the past. The goal is that by exposing these kids to new words every day, they can expand their vocabulary. Teachers are asked to write the words on the board every Monday, and leave them up all week. How I'm supposed to use my board to teach after that is my problem to figure out. (Although, now that I have been using my Smartboard more and more, and my whiteboard less and less, so...)

At the end of the week, there is a paragraph that uses all the words in out of sequence blanks. Students can put the words in correctly and turn in their submission. One entry is drawn, and that student gets rewarded. The cycle is repeated again the following week, with new words.

Last week's DIVE words were:
  1. profuse—lavish, extravagant; plentiful

      Ex: As I toured the empty field, I noticed the profuse undergrowth that hampered my walk.

  1. ossify—to turn to bone

      Ex: The log that had been left in the swamp was almost ossified as I tried to pull it free.

  1. salubrious—promoting health

      Ex: Doctors used to say that exercise was salubrious; some now refute that statement.

  1. discursive—skipping from one idea to another

      Ex: The preacher delivered a discursive sermon that was hard to follow.

  1. obdurate—stubborn, hard-headed
Ex: The policeman was obdurate in his command to the young folks that they could not park their cars in the turn around.

There. You can no longer say that this blog doesn't teach you anything. ;o)

Speaking of vocabulary, and ways we use words... I'm realizing more and more each day that, despite the fact that my students and I all speak the same language, there are times when neither one of us really knows what the other one is talking about! I was giving instructions to a class today about "writing a test", and one girl shook her head and exclaimed "What are you talking about?" There was a moment of vagueness when I couldn't understand what she was asking me, when another student said "We don't know what 'test writing' is." Hmm.

They also have their own colloquialisms that I just can't make out. They talk so darn fast and mumble SO MUCH that I usually have to ask them to repeat themselves slower and clearer before I catch on! Those of you who know me in the flesh know that I have pretty good hearing, but when I'm stuck in the middle of a room with 24 jibbering students, it can be a lot to take!

Please please... If I return home with these bad verbal habits... Please slap me and make me change my ways!


Anonymous said...

you and your silly look into american life. yes, we have real homecoming dances, and courts with queens and everything. i had it at my high school. and they have it at ehn. are the activities dressing certain ways during the week? that's what we always did (and, again, do at ehn...)

as for the colloquialisms, i was going to comment about the "writing the SAT" thing because I was like, i didn't write an SAT, i took it my junior year of high school. it's so strange, but you really don't think about those little things until you are out of your home state. for me it happens when i say something like "bueller...bueller" and the kids just stared. me and my stupid pop culture...

Kimber said...

Ha ha ... that's pretty awesome. Thanks for the new words today ... all pretty new to me, except for ossify, of course (thanks TV for that one!!) ... oh, and maybe "profuse" too, since I PROFUSELY use that word! LOL.

A real homecoming dance? And a REAL queen and everything? Oh dear. I'm so wishing I was with you down there, or that we'd gone to a real American high school. Now tell me your kids are applying to "out of state" colleges, and I'll be happier than a pig in mud!

Oh, and I don't quite get the "write a test" thing. If they don't write tests, what do they do? Take them? Is it a matter of using "take" vs. "write"?? Confusion...

Brenda said...

Sure sorry that you're struggling with the class performance levels, though I'm very proud to hear that you are trying to reach all of the students! In the school my kids attend, the teachers are also struggling with class performance levels, but instead of trying to reach everyone, they end up focusing only on the kids who are having trouble. While I'm grateful that my kids are doing well, they end up being completely and utterly bored! Knowing that their teachers aren't challenging them has become a great source of discouragement - which really concerns me, as I believe all students should be challenged, wherever they are in the learning process....
Melanie, your kindness and willingness to be a helpful presence will soon be apparent to the kids, and I wouldn't be surprised if, in a short while, they are responding to that by trying their best! :D Kids know who cares and who doesn't...

As for their mumblings and their colloquialisms - have fun with the fact that you're a Canadian! Tell them you need THEIR help to understand! :D Often kids just want to feel important, and if they feel that you need their help, they just may begin to look forward to your class, knowing that you're a learner too, and they can teach you! To use your own quote... "we're all in this together". I've always found that instead of "what's right" and being "in charge",we, as adults need to tell it like it is. Humans respond to encouragement, no matter what our age, and I think they have the best example in you, in that regard! :)
I look forward to hearing more about American school culture, which sounds incredibly different than us Canuckleheads! :D
Lotsa love to ya! ;D