Thursday, April 22, 2010

Following Instructions, Applying Strategies

Hello Families,

As our unit on geometry draws to a close, I am not pleased with much of the work being produced in class and for homework. As the students can tell you, and I am very convinced of the necessity for instilling habits that will help them succeed in high school and later studies (as well as in the workplace). Geometry uses a number of formulas and strategies that are immutable and need to be memorized, and work needs to be clear and labeled. This morning, not one of the students had applied the labeling strategy taught for transformations. Not one. Why? Because they were convinced they didn't need to. More than half the class had significant mistakes that could have been avoided.

Now, I am all about creative thinking and discussion. But this is not a situation in which people can deviate from strategies they have barely learned to apply. They can expect to have to apply multiple concepts to complete situational problems, and to do that, they have to be organized and methodological. All the students are able, many do this spontaneously. No one did it with yesterday's work.

Some students seem to think that instructions are suggestions, not requirements. Just now I took them to the bake sale and told them NOT to eat before physical education class. All students heard me. Three chose to ignore the instruction. It may seem unimportant, scarfing down a little brownie before doing gymnastics. However, the greater point is that they aren't interested in doing what they are told, they do what they want.

I am in the midst of finalizing the end of year trip, and overnight trip. If I can't rely on people following instructions, how can I take them?

Please speak with your child. There are a scant nine weeks of school left. We can finish the year strongly, or we can struggle.

I know which I prefer.

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