Saturday, 12 September 2009

back to work

Well, one week done! It was quite a tiring endeavour this week, to motivate myself and 155 students to get back down to some quality work. I am teaching a few new-to-me classes this year, for example, a bottom set of year 9s (fourteen year olds) that I am finding quite a challenge. I didn't realise how much detail I would need to go into when explaining how to round a number to the nearest ten, hundred, or thousand. Actually, I decided after the first lesson, that I'd better teach about the place value positions first. Because if you can't identify the hundreds digit, then you can't round to the nearest hundred. This was a hurdle I wasn't expecting! But now I know not to assume any knowledge in the future. We will be doing lots of times table tests this year, because if these students leave school with any functional numeracy at all it will be a benefit.

Organising my classroom, resources, and mind is always a challenge as well. I have made a lot of hands-on items over the last few years, and it is a collection I want to continue building. So over the summer I reorganised them by moving them all into stackable containers on a high window sill (more than two metres off the floor). The containers are from our favourite oriental take-away food restaurant, and I have been collecting them all year--now I have about fifty, I think. All the boxes are labelled on the front with large stickers; "rounding card sort" is new this week, and a class set of "digits 0 - 9" for use with my new place value mats (laminated 50 cm long grids which hopefully will help students see how to compute 236 x 100 in their heads).

I love organising, but if only I had more time to do it! As the week went on, my desk became the resting place for piles of worksheets, incoming mail, items that my boss asked me to look at, slips of paper, and so on. This mess was compounded by the fact that I managed to run over the bell with almost every lesson this week (I must be out of practice!). So as students were leaving the room, the next set were streaming in, and I was still madly trying to find my next set of slides, worksheets, feedback slips, cards sorts, and mini whiteboards, while tidying away the ones I had finished with. Sigh.

The weekend is a welcome break. But in reality, I might be better served by going to work and trying to get back on top of things before the madness of another week begins.

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