Today started out horribly. I was running late (and I hate hurrying at all times, but especially in the morning). I didn't have a chance to really prep the review I'm trying to do, so I had to wing the first class. Granted, since it's review (of constant velcity motion today), it's not that hard to wing. After my first class, I had a parent/parent/teacher/supervisor meeting with the parents of one of my current problem students. Not the worst, but the one whose parents actually respond when I send email or call. Of course, because he's not the worst, his parents want to know why their precious child faces consequences for repeatedly breaking class rules. I hope I convinced them that their child is not the only one facing consequences, and that the behavior of other students does not excuse their child's behavior. If your child is the one I hear talking during a test, your child is the one who will face the consequences, even if your child insists that someone else talked first. I am not telepathic, and I cannot know everything, as much as I'd like my students to believe that I can.
Fortunately, the day got better, if not immediately. The review I'm doing with all my classes involves a brief review of a topic with a few sample problems, followed by the students working in groups or pairs to write their own problems and provide multiple choice answers for those problems. I'm hoping that this will help them think about the problems and the ways to go wrong in solving them. Given that the midterm and final are both largely well-constructed multiple choice problems, practice in detecting wrong answers should help, right? This type of review also provides me with problems for use in various IWB games and a break from trying to keep a score or more fractious teenaged attentions on me.
My honors class delighted me with variety of problems they constructed. We also talked a bit about the science fair. This year, I am requiring them all to submit a proposal for a science fair project, and giving extra credit for actually completing it.
Part of the result of the morning's conference was that my supervisor came in to observe my college prep class at the end of the day. My students were reasonably well-behaved (for them) while he was there, and I got them started on writing their own questions before he left, so it actually went way better than it has in the past. I also tried the technique my supervisor uses in department meetings (we're a bunch of wise-acres), but it's harder to clearly say "I'm waiting" to a rowdy group of 20+ teenagers than a group of seven adults, even if the adults are equally bent on getting their say in. I'm seriously tempted to buy a lapel mike and speaker. Although maybe simply recording myself saying "I'm waiting" would be effective...