My Weekly Journal

Click on the date to jump to that entry.

10/6/01

10/13/01

10/20/01

10/27/01

11/03/01

11/10/01

11/17/01

11/24/01

Reflection

12/01/01

personal webquest review

10/6/01

This past week went pretty well. My 3 senior classes are going fine, except for one of the sections, which have 3 students in the back that seem to be always talking. I need to either move them or give them an ultimatum. I have also been warning them of the impending progress reports (which I am producing this weekend) and many of the students are not making up their work. This is a definite problem with my 2 Algebra 12 classes. Many of these students do not seem to care about their grades. I try my best in class to use different types of teaching (real-life problem solving, worksheets, small group learning and peer teaching) to get them to understand the material. This seems to work well, yet they will not study or do their homework so the grades do not mirror their growing knowledge.

I started a stock market project with my Algebra classes this week. I am very pleased with one of the classes, they work diligently and formed their own groups, delegating work between themselves, and getting all of the work done quickly and efficiently. The other class is just the opposite. It is taking them twice as long to do the work, they are not eager to work in groups, and it is hard to keep them on task. I am not sure yet how I should deal with this.

I had a very aggravating thing happen this week. There is a new student from Brazil who only speaks Portuguese and Kimberly (my co-worker) has worked all year to get a student who could translate into her class. Thursday this student shows up in my class! I spent almost 10 minutes just trying to ask him what class he came from. Then I told Kimberly and she hit the roof. It ended up being a misunderstanding between this student and his counselor. This lack of communication is rampant at Natick. Students get transferred in and out of classes without teacher's knowledge or approval, and we do not have enough support services for foreign and for students on IEPs (of which I have over 20).

Enough ranting for this week!!!

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10/13/01

This was a very tiring week. These short weeks always seem longer to me. I got a lot accomplished though. The Brazilian student did show up again, but I stopped him at the door and was fortunate enough to have 2 counselors walking by, so I just sent him away with them.

I am still getting new students, a total of 5 new students in 3 of my classes. This school seems to be too lax in moving schedules around.

I spent most of Thursday learning a new program (Clearmath) that the school is thinking of getting. Excellent program, still in the Beta stage, and I really want to use is with my Algebra students. The guys showing Dennis and I the program were very dry though, they use to be MIT scientists. It was hard to stay awake while they introduced the program. Once I was able to look around the site though, I enjoyed it very much and hope to get the students using it as soon as possible.

I was happy last week to finish my 1st paper for pedagogy, and managed to post it successfully. My 1st attempt at publishing on the web!

I am still tired and fighting a cold (I'm losing by the way). I need some things to drop off so that I have time to sleep. That is why this week's entry is so short.

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10/20/01

This week went pretty well. I have not been feeling well for a variety of reasons: a bad cold and cough, lack of sleep and too much work. But I pulled through and am happy to say that I got a lot done with my website. It's still on the minimal side, but it's starting to look like the real thing!

I worked too much this week, two nights at the SAT prep course in Medfield, one teaching Hebrew school and one at the Expos, but things will be better next week. I am keeping up with all of my work but it's taking its toll. Next week I'll take it easier. Work was fine this week, no surprises and I got a lot done. I am really starting to enjoy most of my students. Very few of them give me a hard time, in fact some are too quiet, but I am getting them to open up. I have one student, Lou, who is going to help me design my site, and I found out that another student, Dave, is filming a movie and he wants me to try out for a part.

I am concerned about a few students though that are not doing well. I give them every opportunity to pick up their grades but they don't seem to care. I either need to have a heart-to-heart talk with each of them or start calling parents.

I really like my co-workers and have been trying to get together with them after hours, but my schedule is just too hectic.

The house is coming along great, all of the windows are in and we picked out the fireplace, carpet and vinyl. I also tore out the shrub that was blocking our view of the yard.

Enough random thoughts for this week! ttfn

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<10/27/01>

This week found me very overwhelmed with all of the work I have to do for college. I still believe I did the right thing going into it, and every week gone is one week closer to being complete, but I can't find enough hours in the day to do everything.

I am getting everything done on time (so far) and got a 100 on my 1st paper, but there is still so much to do. At least I am not alone in this thought, most of my classmates feel the same way.

Alright, on to other subjects. School is going fine and I started an after-school mcas tutor program for juniors that failed last year. It is only one day a week for six weeks and pays very well. Plus the last SAT course ends this week so I'll have more time.

The house is really coming along, I'll tell you more next week. Ciao!

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<11/03/01>

Well one more week down! I am a bit behind because Monday the contractors broke through the wall and covered the whole house in dust! Plus the computer was covered up and unplugged. I just moved it today into the music room so I could do some work. The groups I am in are having some difficulties but I'm sure everything will work out.

The addition is looking great! The plumber is replacing the furnace now (thank goodness it is warm today as we have not had heat in 5 hours!) and the deck is almost done. The insulation is complete and they have started to put the blueboard up. We are planning on painting over the long weekend next weekend, and the carpets should be installed the following week! The end is in sight!

Thank god cause I don't think they could possibly get the place any messier!

Work is fine, the quarter ends this Friday. Wow that went fast! I lost a couple of students because they refused to do any work and failed out. It definitely was not because of me, I bend over backwards for these kids sometimes and they still don't care. On a positive note I am definitely getting through to many of my freshman. They are talking to me in class and joking around with me finally! I though they would never open up.

All right, I need to get some other work done so that is all for this week!

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11/10/01

Another week in the dust and high stress environment known as my house. There is a definite movement towards completion, it's just hard to see it through all of the dust! We are also getting woken up by 7am every day of the week by contractors. The stress is starting to get to us, though we are supposed to be picking up the check to pay them all this Friday. That will be a big relief as we had a big problem with the previous bank.

One aggravating thing is that I was planning on painting this weekend, but the finisher showed up this morning as I was setting up and told me he would need to do his work before I could paint. Looks like I'll be doing it all next weekend so it will be done before the carpet gets installed.

Otherwise life is dandy. The quarter ended yesterday, I have all of my grades just about done, just need to post them this Monday. There was the usual scrambling for students to pick up their grades at the last minute. If students worked as hard all year as they do the last week of each quarter they would all be getting A's!

I need to get HTPing so I'll write more next week!

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11/17/01

Tough to think things could get worse but they have. I could not paint at all this week, too much else going on, so I am painting now. I painted for 10 hours today, I plan on starting bright and early tomorrow and painting until 3:00 when I have to go to work at the Patriots game. I am pretty tired, and I doubt I will finish by Sunday night, but I can take Monday off and finish if needed. It is also nice to see some real progress.

For some reasons short weeks at school tend to be harder on me, maybe because I have to fit in all of the weeks work in less time. This was the 1st week of the new quarter, and of course I am now getting new students into my Algebra classes. I get students who fail the higher-level course and drop down to the 2 level. So far I have 2 new students, but I'm sure I will get more.

I had a very disturbing thing happen to me this week. I have a student who, though I tried everything I could think of, still failed for the 1st quarter. She came to me this week and told me that I had told her counselor that I was "sick of her and did not want her in my class any more". I was shocked. I did have a conversation with her counselor last week, but I said just the opposite, that she did not pass but there was still a chance for her to pass the class as a whole. I tried to convince this student that there was still time for her to pass and that I would try whatever she needed. She was very defensive, but I thought that I had gotten through to her, until the next quiz when she just sat there and did not write anything for the first 10 minutes. After prodding her she did work on it and barely passed, but I'm really not sure where to go from here as far as how to get her to care about passing the class. This is her 2nd try, and if she fails again she will probably end up in the Northstar program.

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11/24/01

After 28 hours over 3 days I did enough of the painting for them to put in the carpet, which they did on Wed. The lights and ceiling fans were also put in, it looks great! There are some things that are not working yet, but I'll give them next week to get it all done.

I only worked Tuesday and half of Wed. so work was easy this week. The students are fine, and the 2 girls who have been sick the past month are back and catching up, I was quite concerned with both of them, especially the senior who was gone for 3 weeks before the counselor called her house to see if she was ok!

Thanksgiving was great! It was the only time in the last 2 months that I could relax. It was great seeing everybody in Conn. including Amy's parents. Ariel is soooo cute and she and Kylie play very well together.

The group project for Augusta is pretty much all set, and Kevin's stuff is all done, but it has been difficult because I only have access to Photoshop at college and school so I can't work on a lot of it at home. I managed to get a lot of it done during the MCAS course I teach Tuesday nights.

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Reflection on group work:

After having been in two different groups for two seperate projects I have some thoughts on this subject.

It is definitely true that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, as far as working with other people is concerned. Everybody knows something that the other does not, and the groups are made better by each person's distinct strengths. Some people are very good at web design, and helped create the site for the project in pedagogy, while others were excellent in research and writing.

The main difficulty I am finding is in working over the net with people. It is almost impossible to arrange meetings that everyone can agree on. The result is a communication by e-mail which is very inefficient. It works much better when everyone is together in person, and much more is accomplished when this happens.

It is also true that the group is only as strong as it's weakest link. At times I have been the weakest link (GOODBYE!) which is as frustrating as dealing with someone who is bringing down the group.

All in all this has been a very rewarding experience, made frustrating by the surprising limitations of the net and the complications of working together while being physically apart.

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12/01/01

This week was a mix of good and bad. On the good side, I updated all of my folders on my website to be more uniform. I also created a link and a new folder for my Integrated students to go to for their project on buying cars.

I brought one of my algebra classes to the computer room to research mathematicians and I had them use my website to go to a link I had found with over 1100 mathematicians. I sent them through my site rather than having them try to type out a very long address for the site. It worked very well with only one of the students having any problems getting to my site, where the link is clear enough for anyone. Still I had one student say "where do I go now?" when she got to my site!

I was very happy at how well that class went. I was planning on taking my other algebra class to the computer room for the same reason, but had to leave school early Wednesday with an emergency. Because the computer rooms are booked far in advance I was not able to get them in this week. I am already booked for a day this coming week when they were supposed to be getting information on the person they are doing the biography on, so they will just have to choose a person then.

The math department was supposed to have their own computer room this year but it did not happen. It is starting to get frustrating finding empty computer time as I am planning more and more lessons there. I have 5 classes, one of each, booked this week. I'll just have to learn to book them 1 or 2 weeks in advance.

I met with D. in Northstar this week and agreed to take 2 more students in my algebra class. I met them on Friday. One boy was very pleasant, agreeing to everything I said, and he should not be an issue. The other boy did not say too much, but I think he will shine in my class if he gives it a try. He came from the inner city this year where he was a gang member. He is still trying to find his place in a mostly upper middle class school. Hopefully I will get through to him right away.

Now about the emergency I mentioned earlier. Wednesday morning Amy called the school because she could not reach me on my cell. She had had a headache for 3 days, and suddenly found that she could not see more than fuzzy images. Her workmate drove her to the hospital where I met her. We spent four hours there before she was finally seen by a doctor. They took a CATscan and luckily found nothing wrong. They gave her an IV with two kinds of drugs in it, which knocked her out for a while, and prescribed a large dose of ibuprofen and vicoden. It seems that she had the fortune of having her first full blown migraine! Her headache still has not totally gone away, but she is starting to feel better.

Since Amy was knocked out of commission for most of the week so there was little time for any work. The kids both had soccer games (which they both won!) and hebrew school and a birthday party and... It is tough enough for both of us to keep up. I am not surprised the stress got to her, with work, the kids, the house in a shambles because of the addition, my rarely being around because of work, work, work and school. I just hope she finds a doctor that is able to find a migraine medicine that works for her. My side of the family has a long history of migraines and I know how bad it can get.

The house is in its next stage. The addition is 95% done, just some final touch-up of paint, a shower door and medicine cabinet to put up, and the fireplace needs to be hooked up. Now they are tearing apart the upstairs to give the kids bigger bedrooms. I truly thought they could not make more of a mess, boy was I wrong!!! The good news is that if they work every weekday they should be done within 2 weeks. That would be such a relief! We have been living in dust for 2 months now and are quite sick of it.

We did go shopping the past 2 days though. Friday I bought a 50" tv for the new living room and yesterday we went to Gardner and bought a full bedroom set and couches. This is another step towards completion, each step getting rid of some of our stress.

This week I hope to finish up all of my work for my classes. I also hope all of my computer room visits go as well as the first one did.

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Personal Webquest Review

I feel quite good about my webquest, especially since it is a first try. It includes a teacher's guide which explains how I conducted the project, and how it could be done slightly differently. I believe that anyone can access it, read it and understand what needs to be done. I made it as self-descriptive as possible, and very few of my students had problems working withing the site. I do wish I had included some more graphics, but it is tough without having access to Photoshop outside of Cambridge College. I think the quest was worthwhile to make, the students appreciated and enjoyed the site and I was happy with my first attempt.

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