Saturday, April 6, 2013

Student Teaching Chronicles: Week 11

Week 11 :
Results of Observation 4 + Effort + Tequila

I got observed this week and got a 100 out of a possible 108 rubric score.  I'm STOKED! My advisor commented that I had complete control of the class, had a great lesson plan, great routines, etc.  Her advice now was to take "risks", meaning try out some interesting new methods and see how it goes.  I always incorporate technology, videos, lab experiments, and more however now she wants me to go way outside the box.  The way she saw it was that this is my time to experiment and my time to try an odd method.  If it doesn't work, then nobody cares.  This is my time to make mistakes and try new things.  Songs, raps, different projects, really alternate stuff.  She told me about POGIL, or Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning, and suggested I try that (and you can read more about it here).  There's a book you can only buy from Flinn Scientific for ~$50 and there's a free sample you can download from the website to try.  I may try it out before I buy the book but with my class that works well grouped together and discovering on their own, I think this could be great.

The marking period is almost to an end and I'm getting most of the grades in this weekend.  Next week is spring break, and final grades are due the day after we come back.  I wrote the longest reflection ever yesterday because of my sort-of "unwritten" policy on grades and extra credit and whatnot.  Since we're nearing the end, I have a handful of students who are pushing for those extra couple points and whatnot to pass or make the honor roll.  With a lot of my struggling students, I have seen an incredible improvement.  Whether this is a combination of their added effort and my accommodations, I do not know, but I would weigh most of the results due to their effort. 

I have one student who is the only freshman on the varsity baseball team and he would really like to stay there.  However, he was failing awfully when I first started teaching him.  I was hoping he would brighten up near baseball season because that was his motivation to do well.  He still has his good days and bad days, but overall he's made a tremendous improvement! His tests grades have gone up: to C range, but that's incredible from him just failing them with 50s.  I'm so proud of him.  The problem is that all this work has just put him into "passing" territory with a 65 because he was so far gone early in the marking period.  He's really in need of those few points and with the handful of assignments left to grade, I don't think he'll get all of them. 

However, this student has really shown me an improvement in effort, grades, behavior, participation, and test taking skills.  He had even asked a senior on the baseball team to help tutor him if he needs it (I've confirmed this with the senior and he has no problem helping out).  I decided to go back a few chapters and get copies of some of the homework assignments this student had 30s and 40s on and said if he could complete them over spring break with effort, I'd replace the grades and see if it helped.  I also ended up giving him a quiz he failed that I knew he didn't try on because he knew those terms better than anyone else in the class.  I can't replace that grade, but I don't mind adding some points where they're deserved. 

There was one other student with a similar situation that I did this for.  Due to bad behavior and lack of effort, this student got to the point where he was "referred" to a guidance program in the school.  You have to be really off for this to happen.  However, ever since he got referred, he's made great changes.  His work is always in, and in on time too.  His grades have really improved and he tries really hard.  However, he's still about a point away from a B and I think he deserves it.  I made him some homework copies from earlier on also.

One student in that class is failing terribly and I have given him every opportunity to do better.  I throw copies (2, 3, 4 x) at him and beg him to just do it and hand something in, even a week late, to get something other than a zero.  He flat out says, "It's okay I won't do it", or, "Don't even give it to me I'm not going to do it." He says this stuff with zero confidence like he think's he'll mess up if he even tries--so I haven't given up on him yet.  He doesn't pay attention or take notes and when I give them free time to do work, he chats.  I keep reminding him, "So and so, you need to get this done. Get working," and he doesn't.  Then when he gets a zero for an assignment or a failing test grade back, he gets all upset.

I have been trying to get him to do anything, anything at all so he can get a good grade on it and get that little confidence boost, but I can't even get him to do a simple homework assignment or classwork assignment.  He acts all innocent like he can't do it, when in reality he just sits and talks or goofs off.  He was absent for Thursday's test so on Friday I told him he had to take it and he got all upset, begged me no, and said, "Don't even bother I'll just take the F, I'm going to fail it anyway, just give me the F."  I said, "You need to try, you're not trying," and he said, "I always try!" False.  Asking to not do the test and just take an F is not trying.  It was a super easy test for them, and they all needed the good grades.  I made it as easy and clear as possible.  I made him take it.  When he was done, he said he didn't know the last one.  I told him it was extra credit so just guess anything.  He refused and got mad at me saying he doesn't know anything to guess (again, not even trying), so I made him sit down for five minutes and come up with something. 

He got the extra credit correct enough for another point.  He got a 70 on the test.

Great results for him! Like astonishing, best-all-year grades, but not enough to come anywhere close to passing and because of the lack of effort, I don't feel justified to offer him and special arrangements.  I've been doing that all marking period and he didn't take advantage of any of them.  He doesn't even do the normal work.  I have done absolutely everything in my power throughout the marking period to stay on top of what he's doing, give him extra copies, take things late without deductions, remind him every 5 minutes to stop talking and start working... While I am not giving up on making him a successful student, he does not deserve any special treatment.  He absolutely deserves the grade he will get. 

Which brings me to my next point: SPRING BREAK.  Never did I realize how excited teachers were for the break, maybe even more so than the students.  As soon as the bell rang, some of the teachers said they were going to the local watering hole for some drinks and maybe some food.  I wasn't going to go (It's still a little weird shooting the shit with my old teachers so much) because my cooperating teacher wasn't going, but the other science teacher was going and I really like her too.  It was actually her idea to go.  So what the hell, it was Friday, my friends were still at work, and I said I'd go for a beer quick.  I wanted to make it a point not to drink the way I can drink with my colleagues, but they showed me up right away.

Before I even got my first Yuengling, some of the special ed. teachers/aides were throwing back shots of tequila.  The other teachers were finishing off beers left and right.  They talked me into another, and ordered me another, and ordered me another.  Then we decided it was late enough to get dinner, so we all ordered food.  Best decision of the day because I didn't have time to eat lunch earlier and the burgers at this place are great.  Then one teacher called someone's bluff about the shots we were supposed to be taking, they were finally ordered.  I made it clear I didn't want one, but they ordered me one anyway and put it in front of me.  I kept reminding them that yes, I do what they do, but I don't get paid for it yet. (So let's go easy on the Patron, huh?)

(Although I do love Patron.)

We all held them up together for a cheers, and one of the aides said, "To student teaching, and hoping you have better luck getting a job than me." He took the aide position a couple years ago waiting for someone to leave in a teaching position.  He's still waiting. 

What I worried might be a bad decision of going drinking and dining with my colleagues and mentors, it was actually really nice.  It's funny seeing the dynamic of the "young teachers", the "single teachers" and the "honey can you please get the kids I'm on my third beer" teachers.  I found out some funny stories from when I was in high school, and talked future stuff with some of them.   It's cool because with teachers in general, they get how crazy and stressful and wonderful this job is, and with the biology teachers they understand what we went through in college, for Praxis exams, etc.  It's also interesting hearing them talk about their marriages (or divorces), kids, bills, taxes, houses; I'm not far off from some of those things.  I don't have a plan yet, but I'll get there someday, somewhere, with someone.  I definitely learned TMI about some of them and wasn't about to chime in with my own stories of sex and boyfriends and penises.  I joked about failing student teaching for this, and they told me that this was where the real learning begins.  They're a lot of fun, but I left the bar after those Patron shots.  I have no idea how late they stayed.  They were pretty stoked to be on break and to be out having a drink instead of picking up kids or writing lesson plans.  The one teacher said she barely ever gets to go out anymore, unless it's something planned way in advance.  Not even on a lot of dates with her husband because they're both busy with work and the kids.  I hope I don't fall into issues like that after I'm married, but I totally get it and I'm glad they got to go have a little fun. 

This is week 11 of my fifteen-week-long experience.  Spring break will be my week 12 so I've already done the reflections and submitted them.  The week we get back will be week 13, then another week, then my last week. I thought this would be dragging but now I know it's going to go so quickly!

Friday, March 29, 2013

My 10 Healthy Weight-Loss Tips

Last NYE, I hated how I looked and finally decided enough was enough: College was almost over, so my resolution for the new year was to get back in shape and lose the weight I put on after high school.  This past year I've lost those 30+ pounds.  I'm no nurtitionist or marathoner, but I'm a busy biology major who knows our internal processes and the crazy schedules/budgets of college kids.  So here's my best advice & what honestly has worked for me.

10. Even if you can't join a gym, you can workout a little every day, even if it's just walking the dog or longboarding to the bank.  Honestly, I usually worked out 6 days a week but even if I couldn't, I'd find easier ways.  I used my school gym which was pretty nice and above all, free.  Gyms are expensive: I splurged at one point to join kickboxing because I got a good promotional deal and upon completing a challenge, was awarded a free month on top of it.  However I know way too many people who spend nearly $100 a month on a gym where they barely utilize a quarter of the equipment or facilities.  If you have a gym at your school, use it before you have to start paying for one.  Also check out Groupon because a lot of gyms run promotional deals for new members and you can "try" their gym for a month or so.  A lot of gyms will even let you try them free for a week or two, so you can gym hop for while.  I lived by the beach, so my roommates and I would often take after-dinner walks up the boardwalk.  I also made it a habit of running it down and back every other night.  Find a place to walk or something simple to do and it will help.  I even lunge to the kitchen or lift free-weights while I'm watching a football game on TV.  Every little bit counts, seriously.

9. Disguise what you don't like, because it's still good for you.  Don't like water? Make tea (green tea to be specific, it's extra good for you). Don't like spinach? Blend a cup of it into a fruit smoothie and you won't even notice.  Throw in some chia seeds, you'll never taste them. 

8. Get some new workout clothes.  No joke, athletic wear motivates me to be proud and fit wearing it, and therefore motivates me to exercise.  Nothing makes me want to go running more than a bright new UnderArmor hoodie or a new pair of sneaks.  Even normal clothes can be motivating: I bought myself jeans that were on the (very) tight side at the time and now they fit like a glove. 

7. Drink water.  You don't need to pound gallons, that's not good for you either. Everyone's body is different. Have enough to stay hydrated and if you think you're hungry, have some water first.  It will teach you not to confuse thirst with hunger.  Drinking very cold water will also help burn a few extra calories.

6. Don't not eat. When you don't eat, your body uses your muscle as an alternate source of glucose, breaking it down to keep you alive.  You will lose muscle mass before you lose any real weight, and a pound of fat takes up much, much more room than a pound of muscle.  Try to eat more protein and less carbs, but you'll still need a good balance of everything.

5. Avoid super-salty foods. Sodium retains water weight.  It will bloat you up! Cut the sodium a little and you'll see quick results after dropping that water weight. 

4. Swap what you normally eat for the healthier version: Low-carb + high fiber pasta (I think Dreamfields is the best and doesn't taste like the typical dark, wheat pasta! It's the only kind I eat now unless I make my own) nutri-grain waffles, part-skim cheese, Trop50 orange juice, reduced fat peanut butter, whole-grain goldfish, brown rice instead of white, quinoa instead of brown rice...

3. Pick up a new hobby, whether it's crafting, reading, whatever! It doesn't necessarily need to be an athletic hobby.  This will help make sure you don't eat out of boredom.  You'll always have something to do.  If you can take up something active, that's even better.  Even if I don't "workout" or "exercise" on a given day, depending on the season, chances are I swam, snowboarded, surfed, biked, hiked, skateboarded, played basketball, played volleyball, etc. 

2. Keep visual track of your progress.  Depending on what your goal is, this could mean a variety of things.  You could keep a very basic food journal (I use a small notebook) which would have the date, what you ate, how much of it you ate, approximate calories, and total calories for the day.  Not wanting to write something down I wouldn't be proud of eating is motivation enough.  Another way I kept track of my weight loss (and will continue to keep track of maintaining it) is a weight chart.  I have an app that does it.  Seeing the negative trendline keeps me feeling positive! By far the best way is with pictures.  I lost my first 10 pounds, I took a photo of myself.  Then I took another after I lose another 10 pounds.  And so on. Even comparing pictures taken out with my friends, I can see a big difference. That means a lot.  I sometimes stitch the photos side by side so I can better see the changes. 

1. If you want something, eat it. If I really want something but refuse to eat it, I end up eating a little bit of everything else in hopes of satisfaction, and it doesn't come.  I've realized I'm better off just having what I want once in a while, in moderation of course, and working it off later. If there's a snack you really like, it's okay to have a little bit.  I have a teaspoon of peanut butter almost every day; but no, I'm not going to sit and eat an entire jar or a pack of Reese's.  Might I add, however, that very often the less you eat something the less you'll crave it, especially salty or sugary foods. 

And I'm Smart Too

Recently, I was thinking about how much I miss A&F "humor tees".  I had one that said "BLONDES DO IT BETTER" that I remembered teachers commenting on in middle school that whatever "it" was wasn't appropriate.  I told them that it didn't suggest what "it" could mean, and "it" could mean anything, like school work, and has just as much potential to be something good as something bad (like whatever they were thinking). Who's mind was in the gutter here, huh? I also had one in high school that said "You must be 21 or over to enjoy this ride." Okay, that I admit was provocative, but I never wore that to school.  I just thought it was funny, especially because I was so not a slut.  Just a smart ass. 

I never understood what the big deal was about people protesting these shirts, and I still don't.  Abercrombie had poked fun at blondes, brunettes, jocks, and different ethnicities.  An article read that some shirts got recalled because Asian Americans were upset that they were being portrayed with "slanted eyes"...um, you do have slanted eyes.  Does that mean if they make a shirt about blondes and put a person with blonde hair on it, blondes should be offended? No, because us blondes do have blonde hair.  THAT'S THE POINT.  Do you think anyone went nuts over ethnic Barbie dolls? Japan Barbie has slanted eyes and no one protested to have Mattel take her off the market.  Lighten up people: that means everyone and anyone, no matter your race or hair color or political party.  You can find anything in the universe offensive if you try hard enough, and if that's what you're going to do you might as well go live in a bubble somewhere, because it's an unrealistic goal for everyone in the world to be pleased at all times if they are so narrow-minded.



Abercrombie will probably never see this blogpost, but I encourage the return of humor tees.  They're starting to make a bit of a comeback, but with cute phrases, not funny ones about my boobs.  I miss the funnies, and the smart-assies, and all the other humor tees.  In memory, I came across this today.  I wish they'd bring this back.  There's nothing offensive about it.  I'd rock this shirt everywhere.  While my style has definitely evolved and I continue to have a great sense of fashion, the high schooler and laid back side of me will never grow out of humor tees, ripped jeans and comfy sweats.  Here's to you, A&F, you funny bitch.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Student Teaching Chronicles: Week 10

Week  11:
Business as Usual / Holy Shit, Where Have I Been

I'm not going to make any excuses as to why I haven't kept up on my blog posts.  I was busy.  Like really busy, being a teacher.  This shit is no joke.

Last time I posted, I had made some big changes in my classroom and gotten some results.  I can't even begin to remember what's been going on because everything since then has been a complete blur.  My most problematic student is still my most problematic student, some are improving, and some have their good days and their bad days. My newer class, Biology Honors, is fairing quite well.  I can give this class--though much larger--a little more freedom.  While I have to correct them once in a while, I don't have to teach them and babysit them.  I think their book is a little backwards in the order things are taught but I'm doing my best to tweak it on my own. 

Now I'm just in the flow of things.  I'm no longer getting mixed up with my two classes/preps as to wh's doing what, I'm just teaching my classes and it feels like normal.  I feel like a teacher, they feel like my students, and they no longer look to my cooperating teacher for anything or even notice whether or not she's in the room.  With both classes, I've been playing around with a lot of group/partner work, even it that's just answering a question together and presenting it to the class.  I've been trying to mix up my lessons so things are structured but not monotonous. 

Today was my lab day with the Honors class.  We are on transcription and translation stuff and since I have transcribed and translated the hell out of them, I decided today's lab would be more of a review (test coming up next week).  I made stations with posters of charts and other diagrams as well as some using the marker board.  I made little cards with different things on them: vobabulary definitions, characteristics of a process, etc.  There were six stations: Transcription vs. Translation, DNA vs. RNA, Eukaryotic Gene Regulation vs. Prokaryotic Gene Regulation, Vocabulary, the 3 Types of RNA, and the Lac Operon.  In assigned groups, the students moved from station to station to put the pieces in the right places.  They then recorded their answers in a packet to hand in.  Since there wasn't enough time for them to copy everything down, I had numbers in the top-left-hand corner of every card.  They were to write the number on the sheet.  This was easy for them to record and will be easy for me to grade.  Since they only had ~5 minutes per station, they had to utilize every group member.  It wouldn't be able to be done by one person alone.  I think it went well but I should have sent them in a strict rotation order.

With Biology I, we are on biotechnology.  I showed them an online lab last week using a virtual crime scene scenario.  Since we'd learned about techniques like PCR, restriction enzymes, and gel electrophoresis, I thought this was a great way to show some practical application.  As soon as I mentioned CSI/NCIS/etc, they were hyped.  This lab requires you to collect blood samples from a crime scene, cut them with restriction enzymes, run them on a gel, probe them, perform a southern blot, and then analyze the bands to determine which of the three suspects you can link to the crime scene.  It's all very basic but I think it's a great example. 

Today, I showed them "It's Time to Question Bio-Engineering", a TED Talk that shows what has been done so far with genetic technology.  The video shows how we have gone from evolution, to civilization, and possibly to design next.  There aren't many limits or guidelines set on genetic engineering right now, and this video pushes the possibilities.  It shows multiple hybrid animals that have been created (my class' favorite, the zorse), semi-organic bugbots (bugs with hardwired brains that can be controlled by a joystick) and the first animals and endangered animals that have been cloned.  Most of my students were completely into this video and fascinated by these seemingly science-fiction ideas.  It made them raise questions about the food we eat, the limits of creating prosthetic body parts and transplanting them, whether or not this technology could fall into the wrong hands, what strongly religious people think about it, etc.  They came up with some great points and I'm hoping I can get them to have a formal debate about it later this week or next week. 

Tomorrow we will be talking about the Human Genome Project and Thursday I will show them "Welcome t the Genomic Revolution", a shorter but more informative video on where sequencing has taken us, where it will take us in the next few years, and how it is beneficial.  It alludes to pharmacogenomics but focuses on diagnosis. 

I only have two preps at the moment (and two classes) but I am trying to add in a third soon.  Here's the idea I stirred up and proposed to the other student teacher, who was on board: My cooperating teacher teaches Physio/Anatomy, and I am more of a zoology person with an immense love for the ocean.  The other student teacher's cooperating teacher teaches Marine Biology, while the other student teacher is really an anatomy person with an immense fear of the ocean and everything in it.  So my idea was, why not switch? If it works in our schedules, it will be perfect.  My only conflict is that one of the five days of the week, I have my lab, but I think I can work around it--at least for a chapter or two.  Marine Biology was my favorite subject in high school and if it weren't for the limited job choices in education, I would have stuck to Marine and Environmental Sciences as my major in college.  Anyway, hopefully I will be coming  into that class after spring break.  I've observed that class: they are a mixed bag that is coated with severe senioritis, but they're all itching to get to the chapter about marine mammals, which is what I'd probably be teaching.  Hopefully my love for the content area will rub off on them a little bit and I can liven the class up. 

I've had one incident so far, with Honors, involving major cheating.  It happened on a hectic day and we got moved to another classroom.  They were all in different seats, sitting close together.  My cooperating teacher was out of the room but popped back in after I started the quiz.  They must not have noticed her come in,  because she saw them blatantly cheating and talking to each other each time I turned my back to answer a student's question.  The grades looked pretty good, however my heart sank when she told me this later that day.  She didn't say anything in the moment because the students didn't  see her, and she wanted to see how it all played out.  The next day, we decided there were two ways to handle it: give them a second chance, or punish them immediately.  I know not every student was cheating or deserved the punishment, so we gave them the easy way out with a retake.  I crumpled the quizzes up in front of them and threw them in the recycling, and we re-took it.  The other route would be to report it to the school, ruining their changes at staying in an Honors class or ever being a part of the National Honor Society.  The other thing I learned from this was not to turn my back, ever, during a quiz or test.  On the following chapter test, I had them come up to me in the front of the room with questions so I could constantly watch the others. 

One thing I've been doing with my freshman, by the way, is preparing for the NJBCT.  This is a new standardized biology proficiency exam that they will have to pass (finally, people will need to know biology).  I haven't given them the official preparation booklets yet, but my cooperating teacher has a Baron's study guide book.  I think they're about $20 in the store, so we just photocopy a set of questions every week or two and do one each day as our do-now (you're welcome, students). 

Overall, I've been crazy busy but I'm totally loving student teaching.  I have created bond with some of the students and I think they see me as their safe person: someone who cares, and will trust them, but who they must respect and not give any bullshit to.  With my attitudey student, she's been having more better days than not.  Most of my students are using the folders I gave them every day, not only as a sign of respect to me for buying them but because they are actually helping keep their things organized.  There are some students that I'm still having trouble reaching no matter how hard I try, so I'm keeping guidance involved and staying on them hard about handing things in, even if they're late.  This job is rewarding, even in the smallest ways, every day and every time a student "gets it".  


One downside, honestly, is just when you try really, really fucking hard to do a good job and the students don't respond the way you want them too.  Of course, if every student could do exactly what we wanted all the time, it wouldn't be much of a challenge.  My cooperating teacher is constantly reflecting on teaching because she gets to see me doing all this work.  I know she does the same kind of work, but maybe it's just different when you see it in someone else.  When the students aren't focused, she often says something to them about how rude they're being.  She told me she sees how hard I bust my ass to give a good, varied lesson and try hard to reach every single student and it pisses her off when they act like they don't care.  In their defense, they probably have no idea how much work goes into this job, but I completely agree with her.  They have no idea how hard I am working for them and how badly I want to see them all succeed--every single one.  No one will really ever understand this, except us teachers.  Especially us biology teachers, and us high school teachers.  Maybe the students when they "get it", and maybe our significant others will get a glimpse, but it's definitely no 8-3 babysitting gig like most of the world thinks.  Man, does that piss me off.  

I will try to keep posting on time, it's just been so hectic (good hectic).  My life has been a little off  lately and I'm just trying to get my shit together.  Sorry this post was a little jumpy from topic to topic but I don't have time to consider good transitions at the moment, I'm just trying to leave for the gym in the next ten minutes.  I'm past my halfway point now at week 10, and have just 5 more weeks to go.  My last day is 5/3 (I think?), and it will definitely be bittersweet.  Still, with preparing the freshman for the NJBCT and taking on another prep/class, I have a lot to do, make, and teach before that day comes. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Student Teaching Chronicles: Week 5

Week 5: Making Moves

It's been an interesting week.  I'm making some big changes, and by big I mean small but HUGE for these students.  Even though this week felt like it was twice as long as normal, we actually came back on Tuesday.  Tuesday I began implementing some new things.  I sat down with the class and had a serious talk with them.

I gave them the truth: that a large number of them had failing averages, that the majority of them didn't give me one or more of the homework assignments, that almost no one answered the questions on the lab packet and therefore failed despite beautifully done karyotypes, etc etc etc.  I told them they need to take more responsibility, and take assignments seriously as they will not pass this class if they don't.  I told them that a lot of them who aren't giving enough effort seriously need it.  And then I gave them the new routine.

The first, I gave them a folder.  This was for 1) an assignment on responsibility, and 2) after succeeding on that assignment, I now know that they are absolutely capable of having something given to them and not losing it.  Plus, they now have a place to keep the things I give them, if they so choose to use it.  Second, I will no longer chase them down to tell them I'm missing their work.  I posted a spread sheet--no grades, just checks or lack thereof--that had all our assignments on it.  I update it almost daily and it's always available if they want to look and see if they owe something.  Responsibility.  I also stressed that I will promise to leave work, for anyone who was out, in our bin on the side of the room with the person's name on it.  After that, it will be their responsibility to check the bin and get what they missed.  I do my part, they do theirs.  Again, responsibility. 

I told them we would be doing exit slips at the end of each class: a question about the material, themselves, or my teaching methods.  This has already proven to be a great assessment tool for every aspect of teaching.  I asked them the first day Do you think you're giving your best effort in this class? And the answers were nearly unanimously "no" or "nope".  However on Friday, I asked Do you feel confident about a quiz on the structure of DNA? And the answer was a nearly unanimous "yes" or "YEA-UH" (What it exactly said was "YEA-UH, IMMA PUNCH THAT QUIZ IN THE FACE :)") This let me know that they really understand what they're doing and are ready to take the quiz, get a good grade, and move on.  I also said I would not tolerate the outbursts, the yelling, the jumping on desks, the coming in late, and the lack of focus during lecture time.  We'll also be doing a lot of fill-in sheets that they need to be careful with and not lose.  This may all sound like normal classroom regulation, but for this bunch, it's a big step. 

So we began these fill-in sheets, one for each section.  I made them myself after looking at the PowerPoint slides, text, and test.  My plan is to do these worksheets and eventually when they are all given back to the student, the papers can be combined into a packet to use to review for the test.  One student said the diagram worksheet on DNA structure was a big help for him, and also later answered What type of learner are you? with "visual", so that made perfect sense.  They're starting to fall, however slightly, into our routine: question of the day, review yesterday or do something, notes, fill-in sheet, exit slip.  My timing still needs work but I'm getting better at it--that's by far the hardest thing so far, finding the balance between working to the bell and ending with ten minutes for them to go wild.  I'm getting there. 

This week I also met with five students about behavior, grades, or both.  This class has multiple issues concerning multiple students, and they all distract each other and themselves.  They all responded positively and seem to generally want to do better academically or tone down their outbursts.  It's as if they all have some sort of ADHD, but not on paper.  We came up with some ways to help each student whether it be to control their behavior, pick up new study or homework habits, think about next year, or some combination of those.  I am meeting with three more students next week.  Hopefully I can sort of repair all the damaged parts of this machine of a class, because when one isn't working, the whole thing really seems to fall apart.  This is all the damage control I can do at the moment.  I've involved the guidance counselors and in some cases, the parents.  Everything seems positive and we can only go up from here. 

One thing that really threw me back was one student, who the day before I had met with, crumbling up a paper he got back and reverting to his old ways.  We had literally just talked about how he needs to put in more effort, try hard because he has a failing average, be patient, blah blah blah.  So he gets back a failing paper that I said they'll need to use to prepare for a quiz, and says, "I don't want to see this grade," and crumples it up.  Like, WE JUST WENT OVER THIS.  In one ear, and out the other, I swear.  This is how easily he gives up.  Instead of taking this paper (which I wrote in all the correct answers on for him) and studying so he can ace the quiz and have one bad grade and one good grade...he crumples it up, which would result in TWO bad grades.  THINK, kids, seriously.  I think for students like this, trying hard and earning a good grade will be such a good pick-me-up for them.  Like a catalyst.  If I can get them over that initial hump, they'll feel great, see how what they did was effective, and hopefully do more of it.