Thursday, July 24, 2008

jeopardy as a test of skillz

their homework for the weekend was to go around the neighborhood and find 5 signs or business awnings that are grammatically incorrect. i specifically instructed them to NOT go inside to the business and let them know about their spelling errors, that's not the point, ha! the point is to get them thinking about grammar outside of my classroom.

speaking of grammar, this all came about when i was grading their first essays of the summer. while there is differentiation within every class, i was impressed that their skill level is higher than many of my detroit students, but there are certain students (mostly those who grew up elsewhere and have recently moved to the US) who need desperate help. while i love assessment and am constantly assessing, i hate tests, especially grammar recitation and memorization. ugh. so we played jeopardy and i also treated it as a grammar test. they received a group grade and 5 points for every correct answer, toward a 50 point test. every second wasted was one less question they'd get to answer towards points.

i was picking my jaw up on the floor when i saw how they would write down a sentence, pass the paper to each group member for approval, go over it, read it out loud and then answer the question. different students were coming to the board for each question and they were pooling their resources like it was a job they'd been doing for years. in the end, the lowest grade on the test was 40/50. not too shabby, though i need to figure out what that mental roadblock is between knowing the grammar rule but not using it in your writing. laziness, i think that's its name.

i have been blessed to receive astoundingly positive feedback from my students, who are apparently telling their parents that they love my class. my supervisors have asked for my curriculum for the summer, so that they can try to replicate it next year if i decide not to teach summer school again. we'll see how it goes, but it feels fabulous to know that i'm enjoying the work so much, and am doing well at it. the math teacher, however, is having trouble getting them to behave and focus in her class. i suspect that her approach is more traditional, and i also suspect that they're acting out to hide low skills, as most of them are in this summer program for credit recovery in math.

but leaving on a good note, i'm halfway through the program and yesterday the highlight was again johanna. i just talked to my co-worker (who i'm subletting from this summer) about johanna, because she had her in math last year. she told me that 1/2 of the emails she would write about student stories were about johanna, so i laugh that this is the 2nd blog in which i've mentioned her. we had a roundtable dicussion (i'm scaffolding towards a socratic seminar) and i told them that it was crucial that there was no handraising and that i was not a part of the conversation. they had to figure out a way to communicate with one another. she suggests using one of thomas' drumsticks as a talking stick, and what began as a heated argument turned into a great discussion. hassid brought in jelani's opinion, by asking him about what he thought. i'm thoroughly impressed by these students, for real.

and with that, i'm headed off downtown to go see krs-one fo' free, suckas!! you wish you were in new york during the summer time!


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