Friday, March 28, 2008

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Here's an indication that it really isn't just the teacher's fault when students fail:

Total Number of Students on my Roster: 84

Total Number of F's Two Weeks Before the Quarter Ends: 48

Total Number of Parents Who Signed Up for a Conference: 12

Total Number of Parents Who Actually Showed Up: 8

Total Number of F's for Students Whose Parents Showed Up: 4

And let me get ahead of those who will blame me for all of the F's. I accept late work; I don't give homework; my students have said to me, "Mr., don't worry; it's not you--we are just lazy," and recently, "Mr., our parents don't care; when have any of our parents met with you?"

My Units This Quarter:
Sophomores--College Prep Track
1. Business Writing Unit: develop a business or product; describe the product/business; write a letter of request; write a resume; write a thank-you letter.
2. Opinion Editorials: students could choose topics or use class generated topics.
3. Grammar: yes, it's boring. But, my data evaluation showed that 3 out of 45 could name more than 3 of the 8 Parts of Speech.
Seniors--Non-College Prep Track
1. Choice between How Full is Your Bucket? and Please Send Money!
2. Opinion Editorials: students were allowed to write on any topic, plus they were asked to formulate an opinion about the Cambridge report regarding our school's need for improvement.
3. Emerson's Self-Reliance
Freshmen--Non-College Prep Track
1. Grammar: very slowly and very painfully teaching them how to construct accurate sentences.


At 6:51 PM , Blogger Polski3 said...

"Well, lemme tell ya, pilgrim, Ya can lead a horse to water, but ya can't make it drink".

And someday, without thought, that horse will want some water.

At 7:20 PM , Blogger Mr. B-G said...

Does your school have any books besides self-help non-fiction? What do you read with your students in addition to Emerson? I find Emerson challenging for most educated adults, let alone those who don't plan to pursue additional education.

Fifty years of grammar research show grammar taught in isolation is an ineffective way to teach writing, yet teachers continue to do it because that's how they were taught.

So what if the students can't name more than 3 of the 8 Parts of Speech? Is that justification enough to force them to endure boring lessons? What would happen if you taught these things within the context of something more engaging? How about short stories? Poetry? A novella? A drama?

At 4:25 AM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

MR. B-G:
My students in the Senior class voted to purchase the books I mentioned. I gave them this option because they refused to read the other options I have tried.
I have tried short stories by Sherman Alexie, Amy Tan, and Cedric Yamanaka.
I have tried selections of Beowulf because the movie came out.
I am trying Emerson with them because of the ideas presented. Too many of my underperforming students have never been asked to think on their own. Emerson's thoughts empower people to think on their own, and to believe in themselves. My students need those ideas.
The grammar unit with the sophomores is piggy-backing on their opinion editorial unit. Why? Because maybe five percent of the students did not have multiple run-on or fragment sentences. But in order for a student to understand that a sentence needs a subject, they need to know what a subject is created from.
In the grand scheme of life, they don't need to define the 8 parts of speech, but they must know how to use them properly.
So, yes, I think they should endure boring lessons because not everything in school has to be fun.
I endured hours of boring math and science classes in which I was told things I don't use now. I can appreciate the beauty of the physical world, but I can't tell you all of the mezo-whatever eras.

At 3:29 AM , Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Wow! That's a lot of Fs. But if I can have as many as I have, I can certainly see where someone could have as many as you have. The apathy of some students is amazing, and let's face it--it's contagious. This year has been one of the most challenging I've ever had, but compared to yours, it sounds like I'm in heaven. Good luck the rest of the year, Mr. McNamar. You obviously have guts.


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