Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Holy Numb Hands, Batman

It's another frigid day--according to Yahoo weather, it "feels like -1." I must say I agree. I was outside after school for perhaps four minutes without gloves or coat, and it was painfully cold. Even with coat and gloves, my hands went painfully numb (that may or may not be an oxymoron, but it's true nonetheless).

Last night there was no heat on inside, and I could hardly feel my hands, even after I'd been in my cozy bed. (My bed has a top sheet and then five blankets--no sane reason to be cold in there!) And it's not any better so far this evening. I can't tell you how much I loathe being cold when inside a house that should be warm. To get feeling into my fingers, I literally have to warm my hands over the flame of that yummy pear candle. RIDICULOUS.

Okay, moving on. Everyone knows that it's rude and gross to eat on the train, right? Well, on the F train this afternoon, there were two teenagers, a boy and a girl. They were conducting some kind of potato chip taste test. There were four or five small bags of chips, and they kept switching between them. "This one?" Crunch, smack, crunch. A few minutes later: "How about that one?" Crunch, crunch, smack. There was talk like, "One hundred calories." "TWO hundred calories." And more crunching and smacking. Not to mention the half-bag's worth of chips and pretzels littering the floor beneath their seat.


Right, so continuing the day's journey backwards....

Today's lesson/work (in extended writing workshop--no reading) was to write the introduction and start the conclusion. I used another food metaphor--the Belgian waffle--to teach the introduction paragraph. (I don't think any of the kids had ever heard of a Belgian waffle, interestingly.) They all thought it was eggs or a donut or something. Anyway, my paper waffle had whip cream and a cherry.

The cherry represents the opening sentence to draw in the reader (I am quite pleased at how that worked out!). We quickly reviewed the strategies to engage the reader, and for two classes I played a couple of the songs that we had worked with back in the fall. Then each member of the group was supposed to use one of the strategies to write an opening sentence about their own topic. Then they'd have five engaging sentences to choose from.

The waffle is obviously the most important part of the breakfast treat, right? No Belgian waffle without the waffle. Just like you can't have an introduction without a thesis! Ta-da! Theses are tough to explain; my attempt was that it's a topic sentence that also includes a judgment. I helped the groups along and I thought they sort of got it. Or not. Who knows.

The whip cream follows the cherry, continuing the train of thought that then leads up to the waffle. Meaning, after the opening sentence, you have two or three general sentences that talk about the topic and then lead right into the thesis.

THEN, the conclusion is a Belgian waffle that fell to the floor, face down. Now the thesis (rephrased this time) is first, followed by two or three sentences that generally and quickly summarize the problem and solution, and last is the closing sentence, which also must be engaging.

So there's my lesson. I thought it was pretty clever, and also useful, and productive for the students, because if they did their work, their intro should have been done by the end of class, and the conclusion should not have been too tough after that.

By now you're on the edge of your seat--how did they do? Class B was first and second period.
They were good first period, and second period were chatty. Big D was great first period, but not on task second. Another troublesome boy, M, did very well both periods.

Class A was not good at all. Well, that's not true. More than half the class wanted to learn. The last eight boys, including The Asshole, Little K, Little C, Loud E, and a few more would not shut up or stay in their seats. Nothing really got done. At all. Boo. I was irritated at them and at me.

Class C did fairly well. They were chatty during eighth period, but most of them still got some work done.

I suppose the test is to see how many people turn in their intros and conclusions tomorrow (the homework).

I made a bunch of phone calls after school, letting parents know of behavior issues and the Thursday meeting. Did I talk about that already? The AP has set up a meeting for all the parents of all the students who have behavior problems. I'm very glad that he's supporting me on this, I just hope it works. If I had any pride to begin with, it's certain to be gone by then. I just had a parent imply that *I* was the problem because I couldn't control all the other problem students in the class--not caring about her own kid. Just because some kids are not doing the right thing does not mean that no one can.

I have a headache and feel slightly nauseated. And my throat hurts. Hm.

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