Wednesday Fed 5, 1992

I think I'm going to have to shorten some of these entries or I'm going to end up with 50 pages of single spaced chaos. Here goes:

Today's SWAS group worked on a review sheet (a very comprehensive, complete and challenging sheet that required them to either remember a lot or spend a lot of time looking things up) on "Greek Myths and Legends". Tomorrow (if she doesn't chicken out and give them more time to finish their worksheets) is the test on this unit. Hour 1 I wandered among the students, watching, suggesting, directing, but generally not interfering too much. Only 2 of 9 students completed the task.

Hour 2 I tried something different. I sat with two of the smart asses who usually do nothing, and encouraged, directed and cajoled them into finishing half of the sheet. They remembered nothing of the stories, so everything had to be found, reconstructed, read and written. They are so short of skills that they were lost on the simplest tasks. But they persevered and did all that I asked them and were never smug or short or stupid. I hope we both learned something. And I hope they do well on the test.

Hour 3 was more independent study on their black history stuff, and I worked with 1 girl on her paper and then explored a spelling software program with her. It was fun to see her actually work at the objective. Her paper is terrible, and she knows it and doesn't care, but she also knows if she shows up, exerts a little, and turns in her work, she will pass, which is all she's ultimately concerned with. AT LEAST though, she is willing to make some effort. There are 2 other kids there regularly who barely try, when they are there. It is a pity that attendance is equal to graduation, yet there is no scale with enough low grades to accommodate all these different levels of un-achievement.

Hour 5 was a zoo again. I'm going to begin teaching this class tomorrow, but I'm going to postpone them a little so I can begin Animal Farm with everybody at the same time. I know they'll soon be all over the place, but at least I can hope to keep my life reasonably sane at the start. Susan and I have been discussing options and plans, and she is pleased with what I have to offer. I just hope she isn't being agreeable as I'm suggesting skinny dipping in a shark infested pond! Anyway, they took their vocab test, did terribly, and then pretended to finish their rough drafts on AIDS. But all they did was make sentences out of the single words they had on their outline and string them together with caps and periods.

Hour 6 was terribly rambunctious. There were visitors from Missouri City (7th and 6th graders) sitting in an 11th grade English class. They looked sweet, innocent, naive and incredibly out of place. The East kids were spunky and rude initially, but when the assignment was revealed, they redirected their hostility toward each other (why are black kids so incredibly insulting to their peers?) Anyway, they worked on character sketches in class, having volunteers sit in front of the class and attempting to capture in words a bit of the inner self. Unfortunately, they had a very hard time getting past the outer self (red jeans, black shirt, short hair, etc.) and describing a person in words other than crazy or loud or stupid. There is a germ of a good idea here, and I hope I can enlarge their writing into something bigger.

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