The end of the school year is only 9 1/2 days away but it feels like months! The past couple of days have been really hot and humid. My classroom was 87° at 6:45 am yesterday with steam room-like humidity. My 7th graders have been mentally on vacation for almost a month, and nothing seems to catch their attention. I'm not alone with this struggle. My partner, who's been teaching 7th graders for a while, says he's never seen such lack of attention. It hasn't helped either that we haven't had a "normal" day of classes for the past week. One day band members were missing for a morning because they gave a concert at the local elementary school. The gifted and talented group presented a Renzulli fair one afternoon. We also had a grade-wide math placement test that interrupted our schedule, and yesterday we had "Transition Day." The incoming 5th graders came to visit the middle school, the 6th graders visited 7th grade, and the 8th graders went to the high school. Today, Friday, is the first normal day we've had schedule-wise all week. But even today we will have a group of our kids missing as they are on a field trip. They are a group of "at risk" kids. Most of us teachers aren't sure why they get to go on this really cool field trip -- the ones from my classes are all failing and they are disrespectful and disruptive in the classroom. We would feel better about the kids missing classes if they had EARNED the trip, but the teachers were not consulted.
I've been trying to plan some "fun" activities in a so-far vain attempt to capture interest. In social studies we've been studying the middle ages, so I've asked the kids to research a topic of their choice. They have to prepare a presentation (again, they have lots of choices as to how they present,) AND they got to choose who they worked with. Between my 2 classes I have 15 groups. I predict that 4 of the groups will actually have a decent presentation. The rest? Good question. I have one group of boys who are researching castles. One of them took great notes while one partner watched. The other wrote a skit that he wants to present, but his 2 partners don't want any part of it. He showed me his script yesterday. He has one knight challenging another and then they have duel with swords and pistols! I asked him, "Where is the information on castles?"
He looked at me blankly, and said, "Oh, I thought that was boring, so I wrote this."
I said, slowly, "OK, so can you tell me about the knights and their duel? What's with the pistols?"
"Oh, I saw this black and white movie with my dad. They had a duel, and the bad guy pulled a pistol out."
"Hmm. Did you look at any of the books on knights? Or on medieval weapons?"
"What do A. and J. think about this?"
"They think it's okay."
"What happened to the model of the castle you were going to build? After all that's what your presentation is supposed to be about."
I won't continue, but you get the drift.
Also on my plate: Packing up my room completely in preparation for ANOTHER move. I just did this last year when I got moved to 7th grade. Now I get to go back to 6th grade (YIPPEE!!) but really . . ..
I think when I retire, I will write a book or two: Classroom Conversation: What Your Kids Really Say (and Do!) or Moving Classrooms: 100 Ways to Minimize the Use of Your Own Time Since That's When You Have to Do It.