Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Connecting the Dots

First of all let me say that in the last month of the National Boards process, one of the last things I want to do is teach. I am stressed out, having nightmares, frustrated and extremely cranky. This process is driving me crazy and I can't wait until it's over. But I'll save that for another post.

My chief non-National Boards frustration over the last few days has been an increasing irritation with my students' refusal to THINK. Yesterday they worked on a map of the world in 1920 (post World War I). I pulled 4 different source maps from the internet for them to use. One was a map of the Eastern Hemisphere, one of Europe, one of the Middle East, and one of Africa. They whined for 15 minutes because they were in different colors, and refused to think logically about a solution to that problem. Today they were in the computer lab working on a WWI webquest. One of the pages they looked at was a chart that laid out WWI deaths. In one column it showed the percentage of casualties for each country. I asked students to tell me the percentage that were NOT casualties. Most students asked for help or skipped that question entirely.

In addition, the kids will not read anything, from directions to textbooks. In the computer lab today, the directions asked them to find and analyze certain propaganda posters on a World War I website. In every class, various students claimed they couldn't find the posters, so I made them read the directions to me. In every case, students had not finished reading the directions. In some cases, they quit mid-sentence. I asked one kid to read the directions to me today and he read 4 words and stopped. So I said, "no, read the ENTIRE thing." He read 10 words and stopped (about halfway through), and then tried to do the wrong thing on the computer. I made him stop and finish reading the entire sentence and he got mad at me. So...I walked away.

The kids will not read to find information and they will not connect the dots between related ideas. I am so frustrated. Clark and I talked about this after school today and I feel better that his kids are doing the same thing, but it still is so unbelievably frustrating. I strongly feel that at the (more than) halfway point of their eleventh year of school, they should be able to do these relatively simple tasks. What is the most frustrating to me is that I know that they HAVE the skills to do it, but they WON'T do it, and I can't figure out how to motivate them.

I want this year to be over.

1 comment:

Itsalltrue said...

Lack of reading directions is a plague as rampant as the Black Death in the Middle Ages. Have you tried the cute trick of adding in a note at the end of the directions that the student does not actually need to answer these questions? (For the few who do read, add that they should not tip off their fellow students.) I always tell myself to pull this stunt more to get the message across.