Monday, October 19, 2009

A Math Lesson Gone Wrong

Last year I did a math lesson about probability and the likelihood of an event happening. At the end of the lesson the students had to write down two examples of things they were sure would not happen. One particular student's first example was, "I will not go to Thornton Creek today." I could have argued that maybe his parents were going to stop by Thornton Creek on the way home from school, but overall it was an okay answer. His second example was much more, well, let's say...colorful. (Especially since it was the first month of school.)

There must be something about this lesson. I did it again a couple weeks ago and one student wrote, "How likely is it that a fish will jump out of the water and pimp slap me in the face with his tail?" Great image, disturbing language. I might have to reconsider doing this lesson in the future!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Been a Long, Long Week

As I said in the title of this posting, this week has been a long one. Part of the problem is the five indoor recesses we've had this week (loved 'em as a kid, hate them as an teacher).

The other problem is my class. Or at least a handful of kids in my class. In addition to the disturbing conversation we had about revenge on Tuesday,(, I've also had to deal with a variety of behavior problems. The main focus of my attention this week has been directed at "the new kid" (I'll come up with a better nickname for him later. My brain power is severely limited right now and it seems as if the creative thinking part is totally on hiatus). Anyway, in just the past four days I've had to deal with the following: "the new kid" wearing a fake, gold grill (with fake diamonds, of course) to school, him talking about "pimp slapping" someone, him bringing his DS game to school and losing one of the game cartridges underneath the trophy case in the hallway, him somersaulting into our carpet area and kicking someone in the face, him jumping into a photo last minute and accidentally kicking a plastic storage bin and smashing a huge hole in it, and him using a piece of masking tape to roll a pretend joint and "smoke" it in the middle of class. This is in addition to his "regular" behaviors: calling out, throwing his paper on the floor, moonwalking across the room, tattling on others, getting into his classmates' personal space, drawing while I'm talking, not listening to directions or looking at the board, laying down while I'm reading a story on the carpet, him "accidentally" falling out of his chair, standing over shorter classmates in a threatening way, spinning/jumping/sliding/crawling/sitting down/yelling/and a whole lot more in line, getting out of his seat to get a drink while I'm teaching, whistling when it's quiet, etc, etc, etc. This is not the sort of behavior we usually see at our school, so it really stands out.

I know a lot of the negative behaviors come from the fact that he's at least a year and a half behind in reading, writing, and math and that he'd rather have people laugh at him for being a clown, than for not being able to do the work. It doesn't help that his mom didn't show up for the special meeting we had before school on Tuesday and that no one seems to check his folder or help him with his homework.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Disturbing Discussion

I recently had some lying and stealing and cheating going on in my third grade classroom, so I enlisted the librarian's help on finding some picture books about those topics. Today I read A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban. In this story Frances' friend Thelma tricks Frances into buying Thelma's used, plastic tea set. Frances had been saving her money for a fancy China tea set with blue painting on it, but she is convinced by Thelma that they don't make those tea sets anymore. Frances buys Thelma's old, used tea set, takes it home, gets teased by her little sister about her ugly, plastic tea set, and realizes that she's been tricked. Thelma of course takes the money from Frances and immediately runs to the local candy store and buys herself a fancy China tea set with blue painting on it. When Frances learns about Thelma's new tea set, Frances devises a plan to teach Thelma a lesson and get the fabulous China tea set she wanted in the first place.

So why am I telling you Frances' tale?

...Because of the disturbing discussion I had with my students afterwards, that's why!

First we discussed why Thelma lied to Francis. Then we talked about how Francis felt when her sister made fun of the plastic tea set. Finally, I brought up the question of whether it was a good idea for Frances to teach Thelma a lesson and trick her. I was quite surprised when one of my students said it was fine for Frances to trick Thelma back..."That's called revenge." A group of three or four students then went on to list the reasons why revenge is okay. As one student so plainly put it, "It makes it even."

A few of the kids did say it's not nice to play tricks on people and that you shouldn't do things back to people who bug you, but the pro-revenge group was quite vocal with their ideas. I'm kind of at a lost for what to do next...I thought we had been making progress on our classroom climate, but after today's discussion, I see that I was totally wrong.

Suggestions? Lesson ideas? Cool, kid-friendly websites? Girlie martini recipes for me? :)

-Pigtailed Teacher

PS...I forgot to mention that one of my students rolled up some paper today and pretended to smoke a joint. Oy vay, it's going to be a long year!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day Whatever...I've Already Lost Track!

This is from a beginning of the year, classroom rules, brainstorming activity I did with my third graders a few years back. I'm glad "Be nice," made the top five...even if it's after no blood sucking!
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