My Deviant Classroom Procedures

So classes started for me last week and I’ve gotten to the point where I can ignore advice. I guess that means I’m experienced now?

I have mostly juniors and seniors this year; some of these I would change if I was dealing with the 8th-9th grader range.

1. No pre-made seating chart. I had my students seat themselves and label their positions on a chart. If there’s a problem I will move them.

I used to start with random but assigned seating and there were too many problems with a.) students who were ESL and needed to be next to someone to translate b.) students who hated each other with a passion and needed to be far away and c.) students who were simply confused trying to locate themselves on a chart. I tried to alleviate c.) once by pasting name tags on the desks, which resulted in some students trying to untape and move them. Having a discipline confrontation on day 1 is not an ideal situation.

I also keep my class desks pretty close so I don’t have any far-corner-of-the-classroom issues.

2. No specific classroom rules. I would never try this with 8th graders, but 11th and 12th graders — even the slightly crazier ones — really do know what proper behavior is. I only put the three school rules that students love to break (food, cell phones, and hats) and will deal with specific things as they come up.

3. Not always an immediate objective. Some days it is appropriate to hit the objective right away, but other days I would prefer some sort of hook, like getting ten students to fit in a 3 foot by 3 foot box. (That day was estimating square roots.) I find it better to give the objective *after* the hook, given certain students will automatically shut down the day they walk in class and see “adding fractions with unlike denominators” on the board.

As far as less deviant procedures go, in my AIMS Math I am starting with a new AIMS problem every day where we answer using the 1-4 method. (Raise a number of fingers matching the multiple choice answer you think is correct.) Then if there is a vocabulary word causing difficulty I pull open the word processor and we decide on a definition, print it out, and paste it to the word wall. (The word wall started the year blank.)

I also am trying to include some bit of mathematics or science news every day. So far I’ve talked about the American Institute of Mathematics “math castle”, the Large Hadron Collider (and the Hawaii black hole lawsuit), the SpaceX crash and their timing oopsie, and the robot controlled by rat brain cells grown in a vat. Response so far has been positive.

5 Responses

  1. Use LaTeX. Word processor sucks.
    AIME class… nice… I hope class like that existed in my school.

  2. You normally see me a LaTeX evangalist, but in this case:

    a.) I’m on a computer I can’t install things.
    b.) I’m doing this on a projector live for the students. I am planning at some point at having them come up and type some themselves. I don’t want to complicate things.
    c.) This is just basic Algebra / Geometry; nothing requiring the power of LaTeX is necessary. (If I was making a Pre-Calc word wall, maybe.)

  3. I tried the “no specific seating chart” with one of my 6th grade classes this week. We had already had two weeks of school and I felt like they could handle that responsibility. The funny thing is that by this week, most of them were comfortable with where they were sitting and decided just to stay there. I wouldn’t try it with my other class unless I just wanted to put out fires all day.

    I actually only have three rules that they “picked”. Be responsible, Be respectful, & Try hard. I had my students give me a bunch of rules on sticky notes then we sorted them into those three categories. Then they “decided” that those three rules were good. I could have saved them a half hour and just told them what the rules were going to be, but it’s 6th grade and they like to feel like they’re having a say in it.

    I agree on the objective part. It’s not just your high schoolers that check out when they see an objective on the board, but ours are district mandated to be up all the time.

  4. I really like your blog! Keep up the good work.

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