. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Listen Up

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Listen Up

Be honest. Have I been talking gibberish lately? Have I lapsed into speaking in tongues?

Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth (aka Keyboard)? (Thanks Chris Tucker.)

I see all of you nodding your heads yes, so I know I'm not crazy then.

It's the oddest thing…

My students can't seem to hear me.

At least, most of them can't.

Example from Friday:

Ok fourth graders, we're going to grade that math paper now. Please take out your blue grading pencils and hold them over your heads (Because I've learned that if I don't make you prove to me that you took out a blue pencil, most of you will correct in regular pencil, purple crayon, or boogers.)

Remember, as I call out the answers I want to you put a checkmark through the number on the problems you get wrong like this. (Here is where I model how to make a checkmark through some numbers on a sample test because by the 4th week of 4th grade this class seems to never to have graded anything before.) Do not put anything on the ones you get correct. Correct means that it is NOT wrong. Do not put stars on them. Do not put smiley faces on them. Do not put any other marks. Just leave them alone. (Fat chance this will happen.) All those markings make papers difficult to read. Checkmarks only, please.

Then we proceed to grade the papers (as we have, in the same fashion, EVERY DAY for 4 weeks.)

Now that we're done listening to the answers, you need to count how many checkmarks you have on your paper. Here's how that's done. (Now I model how to count checkmarks on the sample test. Please Lord, give me strength.) At the top of the page by your name, write a minus sign and the number of checkmarks, like this. (Time to model how to write the number wrong with a minus sign on the sample test.) Look carefully at how I wrote it. I put the minus sign first, then the number. Remember, that is the number of checkmarks. Minus sign, number of checkmarks. I placed it right by my name. DO NOT circle your number wrong. Simply write it as I showed you. Minus. Number. Near your name.

Please count your checkmarks now and record them by your name. (At least five minutes will pass before they all have this task completed. I will make 17 students redo it because they did not follow my instructions.)

Now I'll call out the grade. When you hear your grade, you write your grade right next to where you recorded the checkmarks and you'll draw a circle around the grade. This way, I can easily find your grade to place it in my gradebook. Let me show you. I have a minus three written right here by my name. The grade for that many wrong is a 4. So I am going to write a 4 and draw a circle around it. The ONLY number I circle is the grade. Where does the grade go?

4 students: "At the tabottoomp."

The other 29 students: " ."

It goes at the top of the page, right by your name. Place your finger where you're going to be writing your grade.

2 students place their fingers at the top of the page, by their names.

6 students hover their fingers over their papers while looking around at others to find out where their finger should be placed. There's little help to be found though, because…

25 students do nothing remotely close to what I've asked. Their actual activities are both too numerous and/or too disgusting to recount here.

I need to see all of you with your fingers pointing at a spot right next to your number wrong. Look up here to see what I am pointing at and do the same thing on your paper.

Same 2 students place their fingers at the top of the page.

6 different students hover and look around.

3 students point at my paper.

22 students do nothing.

Everyone place one finger in the air, like this. (Model how to hold up a finger up.) (BTW, the finger I was holding up was not the one I really wanted to be holding up at this point.)

Place that finger right by your name, like this. (Model.)

30 students place their fingers in the correct place. Close enough.

That is where you're going to write your grade and circle it.

Here are the grades…

I call out the grades, tell students to record their grades and circle them, and then ask that they hand in their math papers.

The results are:

2 students had their number wrong and grade in the correct place on their paper with a circle around the grade.

8 students had not recorded their grades.

5 students had not recorded their number wrong.

4 students wrote the number wrong backwards (3- instead of -3).

4 students circled the number wrong and not the grade.

5 students did not circle anything.

1 student circled everything: the number wrong, the grade, and then a giant circle around both of them.

2 students had neither the number wrong nor the grade. One had good reason though. He had no name on his paper near which to write them.

2 students used frowny faces instead of checkmarks. Oh, and smiley faces for the ones correct.

I'll include those same 2 students in my group who used stars, smiley faces, or a combination of both for correct answers. That group was 14 strong.

The good news is that this shows they're getting better at grading papers...


Anonymous said...


I feel your pain. I have been there, repeatedly.

(Sad to say, it does not get better as they get older. In high school, they feel the need to loudly announce to the class that they have no idea what the class is doing or what I have instructed them to do - and this, quite clearly, is my fault, for not extending this particular student a written invitation, engraved in pretty caligraphy, delivered by singing telegraph, to please join us in the day's assignment.)

Cynthia McAllister said...

Wow! You sure do expect a lot! I go through gymnastics just to get their names on the paper. "Touch your name with your finger." Draw an ice cream cone by your name." "Under your name, write it again, only backwards." (I could go on, but you get the idea.) After all of this, I still get 5 papers with no name on them. When I hand the papers back to the students, I throw the "no-name" papers in the middle of the floor and say, "If you didn't get yours back, come find it." I figure if they are smart, they'll pick one that's got a good grade on it.:-)

Mister Teacher said...

That's funny, I go through the same exact thing. I gave up having the kids grade each other's papers a few years ago when they kept writing "Good jod!" next to EACH AND EVERY question the other kid had gotten correct.

Also, usually when I ask them to write down how many they missed, they all feel the need to shout out how many they missed. That, or I get 3 hands waving, asking "What do I write if I didn't miss ANY?"

Anonymous said...

Oh, Edna, you have been sitting in my class and watching me teach. You have just described my class. I just keep plodding. I have one student that watches his neighbor and if the other guy marks something wrong, he does too. If his neighbor doesn't, he doesn't. I have to regrade everything he does. It is frustrating, isn't it. You have me empathy and sympathy. Keep on blogging.
Mystery Teacher

Travis A. Wittwer said...

So true. So true. Aren't students precious? Well, that is part of their charm.


Anonymous said...

Oh my GOD I hope this never happens to me. Knowing me, though, I will probably get the eleven year olds who never learned how to spell their own names out. -___-

Melissa B. said...

I have high schoolers who correct papers in boogers, too. I think the trouble is not you, but the fact that these kids are torn in too many distracting directions--ie, TV, video games,etc., etc.--and can't seem to concentrate anywhere at any time. Technology is making these kids more than lazy--a lot of them are turning into morons! BTW, on a completely different subject, it's that time of week again--Silly Sunday Sweepstakes time. Come on over and play along!

Anonymous said...

Thank God! I am not the only one!!! I think I have been speaking a foreign language the first 5 weeks of school. I am getting ready to give students translators so they can understand what I am asking. I'm not entirely sure why this is an issue...it seems like I usually start speaking in tongues toward the end of the school year. Something in the water?

The Bus Driver said...

maybe you should stick to grading yourself, since they cant seem to remember where they left their brains. ;)

Angela Watson said...

Thank you for detailing what it is teachers go through just to accomplish the tiniest goal. I give the EXACT same speech to my third graders on a regular basis, and it is truly mind-numbing. However, grading twice as many papers is even worse. Also, having students correct one another's papers takes up more classtime, which is handy when you've got ten minutes to kill before lunch.

Anonymous said...

Students should be going to school to learn, not grade papers.

Angela - Kids are not supposed to be "killing" time in school.

Edna Lee said...

Oh Dear Anonymous,

If you are assuming that students do not learn anything from being active participants in the evaluation of their own work, you are sorely mistaken and have a myopic view of what constitutes a teachable moment. (Those moments do not all come from teachers' manuals. In fact, the very best don't.)

As for your comment to Angela, she was using figurative language. The ability to utilize it in writing and identify it in the writing of others is a fourth grade standard where I teach.

Naturally Ideal said...

I admire anyone who would even think of teaching in a classroom. You are all heroes just for being there.