Saturday, March 19, 2005

Friday, Free at Last

Yep, it's officially spring break, and I slept until eleven this morning. That's troublesome. I woke up at seven automatically, but stumbled around a bit before going back to sleep.

We had a fantastic snow storm last night. I drove down to Winona for Ryan's birthday party, and it took me twice as long (about three and a half hours) to get here. I wasn't even able to make him the birthday cake; Lane and Angie went ahead and got the ingredients and began to make the Oreo Torte. And that was how I spent my first night of non-school preparation this week! Driving in a snow storm and celebrating Ryan's birthday. My first official day of freedom will consist of my driving back to the Twin Cities, cleaning my apartment in preparation for a last minute guest (Jeff from Green Bay), then going to a bachelorette party. I thought spring break was supposed to be relaxing? :)

Friday's classes went well. OK, that's kind of a lie. My 10B's did very poorly on their vocabulary test, but I kind of figured they might... it wasn't easy. There were 32 words I picked out of the first eight chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird, and I had matching as well as eight fill-in-the-blank. I also gave them a chance to make up points with two extra credit questions. The quiz was only worth ten points, though three or four quizzes will equal a unit test, I think, so that's a lot of points! I wouldn't say it was an impossible quiz because one student got 39/40 (no perfects, but he did get both extra credit questions and was the only one who got one of those correct). One of the extra credit questions we even discussed in class, so if they were paying mild attention and taking notes off the board, it shouldn't have been too difficult! I know that I will approach vocab. in a different way with the next set, and I told them that before I handed out the quiz. I said they were still going to have the 34 words I planned to give them, but I was going to give them the definitions on Monday, so they wouldn't have to look them up. I plan to have them write sentences using the vocabulary words, which will be due on Wednesday, then I will use those sentences to decide which 10 I should use on the quiz for Friday. That way, they'll only have to study the ten most difficult, they will have already shown comprehension on most of them, and the quiz won't be so difficult for them and depressing for me. In other vocab. quizzes, I might have them make their own crossword puzzles. That seems to be a fun one. Amy suggested having them have to each present a vocabulary word, etc. I figured I will try to address things like vocabulary in different ways like I would do my overall instruction--variation so that the kids won't fall into too much of a pattern, and with things like sentences and crossword puzzles, while harder to grade (especially if you have a TA to do it), it will also be harder for them to cheat. I already had some cheating going on when they handed in the definitions, but since it was worth 5 points and it wasn't 100% obvious, I just let it go. I don't think I'll have them look up definitions again though. And fill-in-the-blank worksheets are out. It's going to have to be creative from here on out and figuring out ways to "test" things without the actual test (which is generally kind of scary anyway). I also figured I would have my reading quizzes be fairly memory-based (from discussions and reading), but the final unit tests will be almost strictly critical thinking and interpretation. We'll see how that all works out.

OK, have to head to the Twin Cities now... spring break will be full of work as well as job search stuff, so I'll ramble on about that... Happy weekend, everyone!

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