Sunday, April 18, 2010

They Deserve The Risk Of Failure

Some kids in the second term of a four term algebra class I was covered last week asked me to teach them some advanced stuff. They felt the material they were being taught was too easy and they wanted to move ahead. They asked for proofs and I assumed they were referring to the ones the kids do in geometry. I also knew there was no way to get them to understand those in such a short period of time. And, then I thought, why not show them the proof where 1 = 2. This proof involves factoring and fractions, two topics they were currently studying. The strange part (for me) was that many of them were interested in it (unlike my class of the same level that is interested in nothing) and several of the kids actually got it.

One girl, Isabella, really got to me. She wanted her class changed to the two term algebra, the class she had started the year in. She told me she had a lot of trouble last term, got a 55 in January but has since gotten a tutor and was doing much better. She told me she and her parents feel that she is wasting her time in the current class and because of the extra year being spent in algebra, she knows she will never make it to high school calculus or pre-calculus. I only spent a short time with her, but the feeling I had was that she was right, she was wasting her time. She might not have gotten 90's but she would have made it through. She needed time to adjust to high school and was moved way too fast. Isabella is ambitious. She wants to get back on track. She's willing to do the extra work. The worse thing that could happen to her is that she fails and, if that happens, she can always go into a four term class in September. I don't know if this is a possibility. Kids are still being moved around, I got a new one last week. It would be great if she can be moved too. I hope she,and her parents follow through, fidn someone with the authority to make the change, and insist on her making the move.

The wholesale dumping we do has got to stop. On the record, kids are no longer being tracked in school. Off the record, tracking is as strong now as ever.

1 comment:

mathman42 said...

Actually, it's when the tracking is inflexible that problems occur. Your IA results are quite good; maybe a three term option would help. And then either two or three terms for geometry. Since your school is so large it might be possible. Give them the Regents early if they are at 80 level or higher in class.

Any student doing over 80 work in IA can learn most basics needed for Regents wo much teacher input.