I'm not gonna lie. I'm a little overwhelmed this year. I have a total student load of 182 and it is starting to wear me down. I started the year with great enthusiasm and lots of creativity, but quickly found myself working 12-14 hours a day in order to prepare activities and keep up with the grading involved in such a high student load. I've got a very rambunctious group of ninth graders in algebra I which has led to lots of parent phone calls and some one-on-one counseling sessions in the hall trying to promote better behaviour. I'm slowing getting the classroom management situation under control and the students are starting to learn that as soon as they start talking, I STOP. They are realizing that the more they talk and act silly, the longer the lesson takes and the less time they have to start their homework in class.
For the last couple of weeks I have found myself in survival mode. Lots of direct instruction and guided practice. The kids are learning, but they are bored and so am I. Yesterday, I just had to do something different.
After a brief lesson on using the distibutive property to solve equations containing parentheses, I had the students scoot their desk next to their partners desk and then gave everyone some low odor dry erase markers (this is part of their school supply requirements). I then put up problems like this:
I gave them two minutes to work the problems out on their desks. I told them I wouldn't help anyone and that they would have to rely on their partner if they weren't sure what to do.
After about two minutes I began to uncover the steps using the "shade" feature of my smartboard. You could hear the moans and groans from the students as they realized their mistakes.
My day was made when one of my students in the last period of the day said "Can we do this more often? I really learn good like this." All the other kids chimed in, "yeah, let's do this again." I said we would definitely do it again sometime and I complimented them on everyone being on task and engaged.