Today I had a lot of issues with classroom management. Students were generally better about being quiet for a quiz but I in one class I had to wait almost 5 minutes to start passing out a quiz because students wouldn’t quiet down. In one class I had to take a quiz away from a student who continued to talk once the quiz started. I had a conversation after class with the student and hopefully that resolved the issue but I will keep a close eye in case this wasn’t just one bad day. I think I need to make the students see real consequences for inappropriate behavior. I had to repeat instructions several times and I need to figure out a plan for responding to large portions of the class being off task.
The musical chairs activity was decently engaging, but my classes today made less of a connection between that activity and the unit conversion problem where they went from feet to inches for a student’s height. As much as I like engaging the students, it needs to be engagement in learning or it isn’t useful. I’m not sure what exactly went wrong with today’s classes as compared to yesterday’s classes, but one guess is that the more off task behavior throughout the lesson was evidence of the students thinking less about what they were doing. Students were not as motivated to discuss the connection and make a quality presentation, and I think most of the presentations involved last second thinking when I got to their group, rather than reflection and discussion before the presentations started.
While the musical chair activity was more engaging than a lot of other activities we have done, the students today didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as the students who did it yesterday. Some students were not initially to happy to begin, and these students then ended up being out early on and were once again sitting and disengaged. I think if I redid this activity I might have one or two practice rounds to get the activity going with everyone and maybe hope to engaged them more by the time students start getting out. Or maybe this activity just works for some and not really for others.
I think I need to start grading their whiteboard presentations to help them take the presentations seriously and put real effort into it. Originally I worried about grading them because I wanted to promote good behavior without a grade as a motivation/fear, but by not grading it I’m giving it less value than other activities. I’m going to work on creating a good presentation rubric to give to the students and use for their future presentations.
I’m happy to finally have some graded assignments for the students and when I post grades on Monday for the assignments that they have turned in, I’ll see which students will have mandatory tutoring based on their performance. I noticed that many students did not complete the first graded homework assignment (and some “lost” it). It may take some time to show the students that not completing work will result in a much lower grade, but the combination of that and mandatory tutoring will hopefully drive the students to complete their work. I still want to work towards motivation outside of their grades, but I also can’t let them fall behind while I try to build that motivation. I anticipate a much higher percentage of completed work once students become required to come in after school and make up extra work.
After today’s PD time with Madigan, I realized that I do spend a lot of time with my more troublesome classes telling them not to do certain activities, which might be adding to their stress levels and make them enjoy school much less. The one main question I had in the margin of the Cornell Notes was how do I manage a class and reduce the off task behavior, including particularly bad behavior (such as throwing things, taking pens or pencils, misusing classroom materials) without constantly telling them to stop? Are there better non linguistic methods I can use to try to control them better? Or is do I just need to find ways to engage them more so that they really want to do what I want them to do?