Tuesday, September 15, 2009


If a film crew was on hand to witness my algebra classes filling out book receipts, the world would have witnessed something totally unreal, something so unbelievable that no one would believe could actually be happening.

Let me begin by saying that my algebra classes are ninth graders, in the first term of a four term sequence. When I looked at ARIS, I saw that most of them had 3's on their eighth grade assessments in both math and English. So, I while I am not talking about little Einsteins, I am talking about kids who are, according to the state of NY, up to grade level.

Book time has always meant passing receipts back and having the kids fill them out. Everything is clearly labeled and I have never had a group, even a special education group, need special instructions (except for including their OSIS number and phone number). That is, until today.

Here are some of the things I heard:

"Ms, what do I put here?" (the line said last name)

"Ms, what is the title of the book?" (the book was sitting on the desk next to them)

"Ms, where is the number? (inside, on the spot that says number)

"Ms, what is pupil's signature?, Oh, I'm the pupil."

"Ms, do I have to take the book home?"

This process, which should have taken 5 minutes took 20 minutes and when I collected the receipts, I still had to hand some back for corrections.

All this happened 6th period and I was sure it was a fluke. The kids could not be that clueless over such a mindless activity. I was sure that is until I walked into my 9th period and the same episode repeated itself with one additional comment.

"Ms, this is so hard. I can't do it. I need help."

I'm going to need help to get through the semester. Chaz, you were right. I still like the kids but the honeymoon is ending.


Schoolgal said...

Oh, too funny and sad.
When I worked the library, the kids would have to sign out for books. The card was in the back pocket. The title of the book was clearly listed as where the columns--DATE, NAME, CLASS.

10 months later I still had kids writing the title of the book instead of their name. The first time it happened, I laughed. Later on though, I wanted to pull my hair out.

Or, when we follow the standard "Responding to Literature", I asked many classes to find the literature in the library. Some pointed at the windows, others the desk.

Mrs. H said...

All of us who teach freshmen truly feel your pain and know this is quite a common occurence for these little hormonally charged beings.

Schoolgal said...

Okay, I got a new one for ya!

Went to Waldbaum's today and the total was $39.61. I gave the young cashier $40.01. Well the register wasn't working and she had to figure out the change. She kept saying, "I owe you one dollar and something cents." I refused to tell her, so I said...
"The total was $39.61. I gave you $40 and a penny."
She left to ask someone and heard me tell the lady next to me it's 40cents. She came back saying "Oh yeah, it's 40 cents. I am just not thinking straight today." I just smiled and walked away knowing my elementary level kids could have solved that easily.

Pissed Off said...

I used to be more critical of people like that until I taught spec ed. I had a girl in my classes who could not ride the bus because she couldn't count the change (fare was $1.00 at that time.) She looked and acted like everyone else but was extremely limited. I had another kid who was just as limited but managed to "pass" and get a job. He couldn't make change either, but his charm helped him become the manager of Wendy's. He did a great job too, except for when the register did not work.

I know it is hard, but I always wonder where these people are coming from and try to feel sympathy rather than anger.

Miss Eyre said...

Reading directions is definitely a problem. I gave a diagnostic assessment this week that stated in the directions that it was not a test and would not be graded. One class freaked out so badly, because it said "Assessment," that I had to stop their work and let them complete it together as a class.

mathman42 said...

When you ask them to capitalize and print their name and you write your last name in that fashion on the board and they write your name instead of theirs, that is when you know you are in trouble.

The 3's are really 2 1/2 's as the test is dumbed down.

I also have half my Freshman as 3's, same book but we are not giving out books until October.
So far so good. I am in between you and Ms. No Nonsense. You could hear a calculator drop.

I am giving assessments made up from 7th and 8th grade state tests.

Schoolgal said...

Did I give you the impression I was angry?? Because I wasn't nor would I be. I also do not believe she was special ed. I worked with many special ed classes too and would never judge them negatively for being placed in special ed.

The cashier just lacked common sense for the moment. She was working that register all day and I doubt she had to go ask about the change for each and every transaction. But that one got to her.

And, yes there are things we take for granted like figuring children can fill out a basic form. But this goes to the heart of teaching to the test rather than teaching, and knowing for a fact that high scores do not reflect higher order thinking skills.

I remember doing a lesson on calculating prices on sale items and then figuring the change. One child in my class said if you pay with a credit card it's free. She really believed it because no one (family or teacher) ever explained the concept to her. When I asked her what else she thought was free, she told me tolls. This was truly a teachable moment.

It's like the kids that would write the title after writing their names for months on the library card. It wasn't that these kids need "special attention" because, I forgot to add in my previous comment, it happened when the title of the book was also a name--for example, Harry Potter. When the children get these cards, there are so many other student names on them before they sign on the next line. They for some reason don't see the patterns. We as adults would take it for granted, but as teachers we can't and have to show them there are ways to figure things out.

Sonja said...

I have a young man who will (maybe) graduate in another year or so and he cannot read or write a lick. He can copy and dictate his responses. He has good responses to lecture questions - as long as everything is oral for him. Put it on paper and you've got Superman's kryptonite. I can't sort out how I feel about him graduating and not being able to read or write. Here in WV we only have 2 diplomas - one for most students (like about 98% of them) and a "modified" diploma for those severe students who do not take a regular class load. So the diploma handed to the valedictorian will look just like my young man's. What does that say to the public?

Anonymous said...

I teach 7th grade math. I know a lot if not most clocks are digital, but I have a whole GRADE of kids who can't tell time on a "old fashioned" clock. I refuse to tell them the time, but give them stratagies to figure it out for themselves. I thought they just wanted me to tell them the time so they didn't have to... I was wrong.

They are a great bunch of kids. I'm enjoying the year.

mathman42 said...

A student in summer school insisted that an hour has 59 minutes because after you go past 59 you are at the next hour.

But then again time does move differently in the summer.

I suggested just for the Regents assume it is 60.

Anonymous said...

About book receipts, my motto is:

The less said, the better!