Writing in Math (w/out the papers!)

9 Oct

So at my school, each term is only 2 months long. We actually have to get through half of a whole school year’s worth of material in 2 months. (I see them 95 min. everday.)

Due to this scheduling, some of these kids I only have for 2 months before they have to change teachers again. This ridiculously short amount of time w/ my students has caused me to can a lot of things over the years.

  1. Teaching them organization. This really takes about 2 months for me to train them on and then they leave. It’s great if they keep it up, but I can’t stand re-training a bunch of NEW kids every 2 months.
  2. Writing. By the time I read them and get it back to them, we’re already halfway through the term and it wasnt quick enough. Reflecting only for two months doesnt show much progress either. Plus, you should see some of their English. Its a whole ‘nother workload deciphering what they wrote. To top it off, having them turn in all those papers drives me bananas.

BUT, with my Calculus kids, I’m guaranteed to have them for 6 months (should they choose to remain). If they drop, they drop, but no new students will be added in the middle of the year.

So I gotta take advantage!

Day 1 I am taking them to the computer lab to

  1. Picture 3open up a GOOGLE SITES page with a blog. They will be writing a reflection blog on the class once a week. I can email them a prompt, or they can just reflect. First assignment can be to create an intro to self page so that I can get to know them. This will make things amazingly easy for me to grade because I can do it through my own Reader!! No papers, no deciphering writing done w/ their toes (typing w/ their toes is OK), and I can give instant feedback via comments, one by one, instead of passing papers back in one massive pile!
  2. Picture 2teach them how to use GOOGLE READER! and have them subscribe to my class page AND to their classmates’ pages! Any homework I post, any announcements I make, any grade or calendar changes, they will be able to instantaneously see! Then, as they read what their classmates wrote, they can start collaborating and getting to know one another as well. (Last year, I took them up to Calc camp and they really bonded. That bonding was much more powerful and effective than I had anticipated. I was just sad that it had to happen after the class was over. This might be a good way to get them started on bonding early. =P)
  3. teach them blogging/internet etiquette. Pretty much all of my kids’ parents do not know how to use the internet or know what kinds of things are available to their kids on the net. Precaution must be taught. Blogging also has a certain amount of etiquette that should be followed. It has become way too easy to say/post stupid things on the net and get in trouble for them.

Now why didn’t I think of this before??

Well, I think I’m only thinking about it now because of the great math blogs I’ve been discovering for the first time in the last few months. They have been so useful. Another reason is because a lot of my kids used to not have internet at home even up until the beginning of last year. This year though, over 95% of them do. I’m figuring if I have Calc kids, then that means they’re bound for college. Now is as good of a time as ever to introduce them to Google Reader / getting feeds. Gotta break them out of their MySpace-Paris-Hilton-latest-rave world into an e-world of academia.

I’m super excited to start. Has anyone tried this before or something like it? Do you see any pitfalls that I should be wary of?

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