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Tuesday - September 30, 1997

Today started out fairly good. I didn't do a standard lecture in Algebra II. The section they are on (solving combined inequalities) can be fairly tricky so I needed to gauge how the class was doing now. I felt that if I waited until a quiz to find out that they were clueless, it might be too late to help them. So I had the students come up to the board and work out the problems they were assigned. One thing different this time: they were not allowed to bring up their notebook. The only thing they could bring was their book. This forced them to work out the problem with me watching. I must say that I was pleased. There were a few predictable mistakes and careless additions, but all in all, they seemed to understand what they were doing. I assigned the other half of the homework set for tomorrow. We'll see if today was just a fluke.
    Algebra I was... well, not so good. I started out both hours by giving a quiz on sections 2-1 to 2-9. This is roughly the entire chapter up until now. Since I received very little questions during these sections, I assumed that the material was understood. Wrong! The average score on the quiz for 4th hour was 67%. The average for 5th hour was 41%! That's right, nearly everybody in both classes failed the quiz miserably. Clearly, the level of comprehension for this material is limited. As of this writing, I have little clue how to handle this. I will probably just add on another day before the chapter test to review the material. I could also just let them sink... after all, the class rules handed out on the first day specifically mention that if the student is not understanding the material, it is the student's responsibility to come for extra help. We'll see.
    I wanted to cover both section 2-11 and 2-12 in class, 4th hour. Unfortunately, I drastically underestimated how long it would take to go over the homework I assigned. By the time I finished the homework and briefly lectured on 2-11, the class was almost over. There was no where near enough time to lecture on 2-12. I wasn't pleased about this.
    But 4th hour was a piece of cake compared to 5th hour (big surprise there). Today was my first official day teaching Algebra I 5th hour. The class was exactly as they are every other day -- terrible. Every time I would turn around to work out something on the board, I would hear talking going on behind me. I turn around, and the talking stops... for the most part. There are still a number (5 or so) troublemakers that really don't care if I know they are talking or not. I tried to get the class more involved in the material by having them read their answers, step through problems with me, etc. I even had Levi come up to the board to work out a problem with me watching. Far from getting the class involved, this just got them talking even more.
    And then there is Levi. He is by far the most frustrating kid in the class. He talks nearly non-stop, has little respect for authority, hates to play by the rules, and loves to be the center of attention. A real joy to have as a student, eh? I'm not sure what to do with him. It's not that he is your standard I'm-to-dumb-to-understand-this jock who is just there to take up space. No, Levi strikes me as being very intelligent. When he wants to, he can "get" the material as fast as anybody else in the class. But with all his screwing off, he doesn't listen enough to "get" anything but grief from Maureen and I. I made him stand in front of the room today when he wouldn't shut up. I also kept him after class for a little "talk." Actually, Maureen "talked" (read: yelled) at Levi for me. She said later that it looked like I might strangle him so she thought she had better intercept me. I hate to say it, but the thought did cross my mind! I will never touch a student in Maureen's class... but BOY is the temptation there, at times. As a reader of my journal, you will no doubt be hearing much more of Levi in the coming entries... Tomorrow, as they say, is another day. Maureen said that she is going to "talk" to the class before I start tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

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