Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The name's Overun. Rise Overun. But you can call me Slope.

The year ended with a great assembly. The dance classes performed their jazz dance final, complete with white gloves and top hats. The group of students working with local "guerilla-style theater" group headRush performed their one act play that they put together; the play focused on Mexican immigrants coming to the US for a better life, and the difficulties they encounter, along with the next generation's difficulties in dealing with gangs. The student body loved the play and quite a few of the teachers ended up with wet eyes (as one of the "actors" told us later, the DCP staff is too sensitive). The students working with headRush loved their experience and have decided to keep the project going, even though headRush's fellowship with Montalvo (where they are currently artists-in-residence) is coming to a close. The new theater company will be known as "Teatro Lobos Unidos" (I think I may be their club advisor). Finally, the world-famous Numeracy Project made our yearly debut (Rise Overun is my stage name) with Back in SSR, Equis Cuadrada, and Honor Roll-a.

On the last day of school, students were totally high on the promise of sweet freedom that lay just around the corner (so was the staff, to be quite honest). The day went pretty well, though students got more and more restless throughout the day. For me, the kids I taught during the last period before break was my honors Algebra 2 class. I was interested to see how these students would behave. They actually did spend most of the period getting their work done. I knew lecture would be a waste, so I had them work on a packet to practice graphing parabolas; they had to graph the absolute value of quadratic functions; graph quadratic inequalities; and solve quadratic inequalities graphically. They did pretty well, but some of them looked like they were about to explode out of their skin. Toward the end, when I was trying to get their attention to explain the homework and what would happen when they got back from break, one of the students wouldn't sit down. I asked the class what would happen to him if he made me keep them past the bell. It didn't take long for him to sit down after that!

One other thing: presents. On the last day of school, there are always students who bring in Christmas presents for their teachers. Only a few students in high school still do this (I assume many more do in elementary school). The spirit behind this is really touching. Our families don't have to get us anything, and many don't have the budget for extra expenses. The presents are usually little trinkets like a box of candy or a bottle of hand lotion. This year, I received a few boxes of candy (the staff room is always piled high with open candy boxes during this time of year). One student gave me a mug filled with marshmallows (other staff later had to explain to me that it was a hot-cocoa making kit!). But my most interesting gift was from the student who gave me a plaid golf scarf and a set of XL men's thermal long underwear. A bit odd, but very sweet.

The year is over, but not the semester. When we get back from break, there will be a week of classes for review, and then final exams. I didn't get to finish my current unit, so I think I will actually have to give the unit test in the second semester, after the final exam. That will be a bit odd, but I haven't gotten the chance to teach students completing the square yet, and I think I can't chop that out.

I'm out of town now, visiting family in Cleveland and then St. Louis, and I probably won't be posting much more until the beginning of January. Happy holidays!


Darren said...

No, you *can't* chop that out. It's in the standards! Also, the derivation of the quadratic formula, which also is in the standards, depends on it.

And it's just way cool.

Liz Ditz said...

A bit of a subject hijack here, but I just wanted to say: Happy New Year to you and yours. I wish you all the best for 2007.