My last period of the day is now a Math Lab. The class consists mostly of students who either 1) have decided they don’t want to do math homework, 2) they don’t understand it, or 3) they are too distracted by everything and anything to get it done.
My biggest struggle with the class right now: how do I make it meaningful for the students in there? With that class I feel like I’m a babysitter more than teacher.
About half the students are from my math classes, and about half of them are from the other teacher. The class is 6th through 9th grade, WIDE range of abilities. The class has 15 students. 12 boys and 3 girls. 2 of the girls are there just because they didn’t know what else to take, but don’t need help in math at all. They often go help other teachers or help the students in my math lab who need help and actually have something to do. The third girl seems to fall into the “doesn’t want to do it” group, but I think a part of that is that she doesn’t get it and doesn’t want to admit that.
The class structure involves about 5-10 minutes at the beginning of class talking about something to do with organization, test taking strategies, basic facts review, etc. Then they get homework time. It’s pretty easy for me to make sure my students have something to do. I know what they need help on. Not so easy for students from the other math class. They always tell me they have nothing to do. Every day.
One of the other difficulties with this class is that many of the students are very… very, VERY easily distracted. The tiniest little noise, or comment, anything, is enough to distract them from what they were doing. And with half of the class (at least) falling into the easily distracted group, it’s like chain reaction anytime one of them gets distracted. My solution to that has been to allow headphones and music. It DEFINITELY has helped, for the ones who bring them.
I’m now also making a sort of “wall of remediation” but in hanging files. Then there will never be any excuse for not having anything to do.
I think I’m also going to a no talking rule 😦 I hate doing it because I think being able to talk about math is SO beneficial… but in this environment? it doesn’t seem to work to allow it. Maybe once they are used to working quietly and can show me they know how I can have them earn the privilege of talking?
So to summarize… no more talking, available math practice, and headphones. Hope that all helps the class be more productive for the students. And helps my head not hurt by the end of it 🙂