Friday, June 29, 2012

Mr. Silva-Brown’s Report Card, Part Four: Analyzing the data; 2012 edition

So what does all the data show me?

-First thing I notice is that student like a certain amount of Direct Instruction, and that’s I something I’m constantly trying to tell advocates of total “flip” classes and completely problem-based classrooms.  It’s not about one way being better than the other.  My kids seem to like simple power points and enthusiastic presentations mixed with hands-on simulations and critical thinking activities.  Notice that many of the comments referred to the positive aspects of explaining things.  Direct instruction done the right way reinforces things that you may have done during simulations but don’t really understand.  Teachers love to revel in the diversity of the classroom, only that the diversity also comes with problems.  My “college prep” Gov/Econ classes have students that will go to U.C. Berkeley and students that have trouble writing a single sentence all in the same room.  Even the most well-guided problem-based simulation will need some direct reinforcement. 

-Make-up work and quizzes ended up creating a massive load on me this year.  So many excused absences allowed piles and piles of work to get loaded up in my boxes and distorted grades because they didn’t get calculated in until later.  Since we are required to allowed every excused absence a chance to make-up work, it creates a massive time sink to have to late grade a bunch of 18 year old’s work because they didn’t feel like coming to class.  And most of that work is shit.  Any advice?

-I’ll say it again; “more homework and less quizzes” is an attempted bail out of having ownership of the information.  Some kids want “busy work” to inflate grades.  A few kids even asked for simple work sheets and fully admitted that it was just busy work to bump up the grade.  Don’t expect me to give in.

-Note to parents; your kid is still responsible for the information whether they go to visit colleges, go out of the country, go on a cruise, or get lost in the forest in Oregon searching for yeti.  Plan accordingly.

-This felt like a tougher year than it actually was.  I honestly thought that these reviews were going to be fairly poor, full of irritation that my standards were too high and that I unfair in holding the kids accountable for their actions.  After all, this was the year of mediocrity; I had less A’s than ever, and only one student failed the course, also the least ever.  But maybe my frustration came with watching the students be ok with being average.  Students admitted to Senioritis and reveled in it, with the top of the class being perfectly happy being average once the university acceptance letter arrived.  Not a whole lot I can do about this one except keep kids engaged.  Senoritis is just becoming part of an accepted culture at this point; from the parents on down.

I’ll be teaching the same classes yet again next year and I love it.  I’m already getting the ideas down for next year, number 12.      

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