Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What to do?

I'm reaching the end of my rope with my Integrated Algebra 1 class.

Aside from one or two boys (depending on the day) their behavior isn't that bad. If you walked in my room you'd mostly see what looks like good things going on. Either we're reviewing old material or learning new stuff. Kids are quiet. (Except for that one kid... but you know.)

The problem?

They're not listening. They look like they're listening. They act like it. When I ask a question people raise their hand to answer.  But nothing's going in.

Today we had shortened classes because of a 2-hour late arrival (for inservice). On Monday we'd started some exponent rules (short cuts, I called them) and I wanted one more day today to review them again.  Kids were saying this would be the easiest quiz.  Awesome! I thought.

Before I passed out the assignment, I asked everyone to look at me. I told them that instead of doing the whole worksheet that I was giving them, I wanted to them to do one side only. I showed them which side and even told them what it said at the top (while walking around so everyone could see). I told them that if they didn't hear my instructions I was going to make them do the whole assignment.

I passed out the papers.

As I was doing that, at least five kids asked me if we were doing the whole thing.  Really?!

I told them yes.

Right now 7 out of 17 kids are passing.  And it has me wondering what I'm doing wrong.


Avery said...

Frustrating. I've had classes like this in the past, and find that their inability to listen to basic instructions often was a result of their inability to *understand* complex ideas that I had been talking to them about. Eventually, and maybe as a defense mechanism, they just started tuning everything out. It's no silver bullet, but I found that talking less and having kids *do* more helped. Once we got into a routine, if they knew I was only going to talk for 5 minutes they were more willing to listen, regardless of whether I was talking about basic instructions or complex ideas.

CalcDave said...

Maybe you could text them the instructions or tweet it at them. They are good about reading those!

Kate (fourkatie) said...

I can't say that I have any advice for you, as I face this everyday myself. I refer to it as the students who need an engraved invitation to learn. Unless you are talking one-on-one and only to them, they don't/won't hear what you say. I feel like I repeat myself times the number of students in my class.

Mr. R. said...

Same here...not much I can add. They simply do not pay attention...or study. I am in the same exact boat as you. Same class...same boat. In addition to not listening, many don't care if they fail. I sometimes let kids bring sheet of notes to a test. I cannot believe how many do not do it.

Crystal Kirch said...

I don't have the magic words either, it seems like a lot of us are in the same boat. I was just talking yesterday about it - my students' ACTIONS are not the problem - I don't have behavior problems for the most part. It is their INaction... meaning sitting there doing nothing after being given instructions, not listening in the first place, etc. I am almost beginning to think that INaction is worse because the kids don't see anything wrong with it.
Once I have given directions, I have now resorted to answering repeated questions with, "Please ask a classmate who listened" and not repeating myself. Not sure if it's the best option, but for now it is keeping me sane and hopefully making them think about actually listening the first time.

Good luck -we are all in this together!

Simplifying Radicals said...

I'm going to join the group of us who don't have an answer. But I feel your pain.

KFouss said...

I'm so happy to know that it's not just me! (Not that I'm happy you all are facing the same frustrations I am.)

Seems like the third quarter is always the worst. I had a little chat with the class today and told them that they need to be better listeners. If they don't become more actively involved in class, things won't turn out well for them. And right now a lot of them can see that in their grade.

The special ed teacher in here with me for that bell concurred. So I know it's not just me (again).

When's summer?!