Monday, February 1, 2016

Absent Students and Publishing Course Notes

Every teacher has absent students as well as present ones. Although in my head I know that I should prioritize the present ones, and I do, I can't care less about a student's learning because he/she is not there. In fact, with some students, I am more concerned and worried about their physical and emotional well being if they are not making it to school. 

What I have decided to do this year is to have a Google Doc per unit with the notes from each lesson and the learning targets. By the end of the unit, the document will be obnoxiously long, but I think it's preferable to posting multiple links on Moodle. Also, sometimes, when preparing for an exam, the students do not remember when they missed and for sure do not know the topics.  This document is a "one stop shop." 

It's a constant struggle in terms of my own time management. But I think that this is the best way to ensure that students missing for good reasons are able to catch up.

Four Corners of Pardoxes

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is filled with many wonderful paradoxes that are fruitful for discussion. However, some of them are dated, don't fit our modern value system, or the teens just do not relate to them.

This year, I tried the four corners activity to teach the concept of paradoxes with my 10th graders. I posted paradoxes on the board (that I found actually from and they had to go to a corner to indicate if they Agreed, Disagreed, Somewhat Agreed, and Somewhat Disagreed.

Once they were in their corners, a student or two "defined" or "translated" the paradox. At that point, some students moved to different corners because they had misunderstood the meaning. Then volunteers in each corner explained why they had chosen their stances. Again, some students were so convincing that this caused movement.

It was a very successful activity. One modification I made in a section with several students with learning challenges is that I had them first sit at their desks and read and absorb the paradoxes before moving around the room.

Here are the paradoxes:

“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.”
“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”
“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”
“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit”
“All generalizations are false, including this one.”
“Give me an honest con man any day.”
“The trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.”
“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
“One of the great constants in life is change.”