Saturday, March 08, 2008

Back to the Land of the Living

While I am not operating at 100%, I certainly feel that I am on the upside of rising out of the morass of snot and lung searing coughing that has wracked my body for the past week. On Monday TEN of my students were out with this bug, by yesterday only 2 were out sick from my class but my team teaching partner sent 3 home sick. This is one set of germs that is particularly vicious. As a veteran teacher I am tough as nails to most 'bugs', but not this one. Goodness knows I say, "Get your fingers out of your nose and WASH YOUR HANDS!" about a zillion times a week. Actually, this group of kids is not too much of a nose picker crowd....that's one of the many scales that teachers of primary kids measure their class: Nose Picking. Bet you didn't know that. Through all this I have discovered my new favorite drug: Musinex D along with huge amounts of water to keep the mucus moving.

This week I almost 'lost it' during the math lesson where the kids were to make 'planks' of craft sticks that have 5 dots on each plank, then we were to make rafts of 5 'planks'. The teachers' manual said to glue beans to the craft sticks. Are they insane? We thought that coloring 5 dots on sticks was easier than gluing beans. It probably was easier, but try teaching a 5 year old how to space 5 dots evenly on a craft stick; I still don't have a perfect technique down. All this is for a game they play to learn to make exchanges for 5. I do have to admit that part of my tension with this lesson has it roots in my own 8th grade grade experience of gluing 10 beans onto craft sticks to make 100 bean rafts. Tall, spare Sister Mary Magdalene, with her wire rimmed spectacles and no nonsense manner was our teacher of the 'New Math' and I am sure she probably wondered WTF she was trying teach as she supervised red beans, glue, craft sticks, and cocky adolescent hormones. We did as we were told but I still remember the frustrated look in her eyes as she tried to explain to me what a row of beans had to do with the number 10 or 15, etc. It was an incongruous idea to many of us 8th graders; we already knew how to add, subtract, multiply and divide multiple digit numbers and usually came up with the right answers. So what were these beans for? Now I know that it was that time in education history when curriculum was just starting to reflect the understanding that using manipulatives and having hands on experiences was important in laying the foundation for concept development. As I look back on this I don't know who I feel sorrier for, Sister MM or us kids. Obviously the lesson stayed with me, but not for reasons intended.


Diana said...

Poor Sister MM, indeed. I'd think there'd be little worse than teaching something you didn't think was worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

You sure have a good memory and it is all coming back in your work!
Loved the new pictures.