Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Strange Schedule

It's one of those strange times in the school year when it feels like I'm not teaching at all.

This is particularly true for the Seniors. Last week, I started a new unit on Thursday, knowing that I wouldn't see them on Friday (Senior Inaugeration), Tuesday (big field trip to the National Zoo for nearly all of them), Wednesday (PSAT day), Thursday or Friday (both Inservice). So, by the time I see them next, we'll have been a week and a half into our Much Ado About Nothing unit, with only two days of instruction. It's a bummer that it all seems to bunch up at once, but it does.

Today was a decent day, though. The 9th-11th graders sat for the PSAT from 8:15-11:30, and teachers had inservice about how to increase scores in the afternoon. We have some pretty amazing data that our students are general at the national average for PSAT students taking the test in the 9th grade (compared to other 9th graders), but we drop in the 10th and 11th grade as compared to the counterparts. It's sobering data, but, like most educational data, there are some asterisks involved: First off, a very small percentage of students take the PSAT in the 9th grade around the country; secondly, we looked at the data from the classes of 2009, 2010, and 2011, all of whom are different students.

Still, even with these caveats, the data was still disappointing, so our meeting today was about improving our scores. I'm optimistic that we're working towards this common goal, and we'll see how it goes. For me, it was mostly an opportunity to think about something I feel like I think about all the time in instruction in the 9th and 10th grades: Vocabulary. Our students don't really have any, and that's one reason they score poorly on the PSAT and SAT. I'm a fan of vocabulary workbooks and wish we would invest in them.


Anonymous said...

Does your school use word Generator? My school just started and it seems like an interesting program. Maybe out of Harvard?

Smallest Twine said...

1. I know EXACTLY how you feel about weird scheduling messing up teaching. I feel like my geometry kids have learned nothing in the last two weeks and that the little they did learn is not going to stick. It sucks.

2. I LOVED vocab workbooks when I was in high school. And I still remember a lot of those words. Brouhaha is a great word and also a perfect name for a cafe/comedy club.