Thursday, October 23, 2008

Backflips and sirens

Seriously.  I wanted to pull all of my hair out today.  My class is not a behavior problem by any means, but they are just so "low" as we teachers sometimes say.  It's not just low skills (which is a HUGE problem this year), it's a complete lack of attention in addition to beginning pre-k level skills (I teach 1st grade).  Their heads bob and twirl.  They play with little pieces of scrap paper that end up strewn all over the rug.  More recently, a whole group of them have begun to rip the elastic strings out of their socks.  Their eyes don't seem to focus.  When we do shared reading, they look at ME if they are paying attention at all.  I always say, "eyes on the words, not on me!"  They make mistakes when we drill the alphabet, and cannot identify all the letters let alone basic sight words (like "a" or "I").  As we are kicking off a new reading intervention program, the administration actually looked at student assessments for the first time EVER and concluded that our kids need a LOT!  DUH!  How many years have we been saying this?  

Anyway, we decided that we need to really focus on making them aware of basic sight words (since a large majority are currently unable to pass list 1 which is mid- kindergarten level on our sight word assessment).  So, we decided that we the teachers would wear sight words on our shirts.  I wore the word "the" today.  This is a word that has been tripping up my little ones on their assessments along with "in," "is," "it," and you can forget about "here," nobody knows that one (except for my little group of 3 kids who read at level K... which is light years away).  So, I'm wearing this word all day and we're talking about it every chance we get.  The kids are noticing it for the first time ( I know, how many times have we written it and read it, etc?!!!!!) in print around the classroom.  We did a shared reading of a kid's story that I put on chart paper.  I covered up all of the parts where "the" appears with a post it.  Then I had kids come up and write "t-h-e" on the post-its.  Then we re-read it again and again (imagine the bobbing heads and sock play).  Then we read the B level big book "Going to school," which we have read for shared reading so many times that some kids have memorized it and listened for "the."  Long story short, when I asked them how we spell "the" at the end of the day and pointed to the card on my shirt, I got "h-t-a" from a kid (which is fine, not everyone gets it I know), but the fact that most of the kids didn't respond or gasp or anything or even realize that it wasn't right shows me that they are just not CONNECTING!!!!  Thinking about getting them to the level I benchmark or even getting them to have half a chance of ever being literate is a huge burden.  I don't know how I am going to do this considering I have 26 kids in the class.  Out of those 26, 3 are grade level or above, 5 have potential to really progress soon, and the rest are head-bobbers and sock-players.  I feel like I could do backflips and let off sirens and still, I would get nothing.

4 comments:

peace in the classroom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
peace in the classroom said...

peace in the classroom said...
I just wanted to add a little interesting (typical) tidbit to this post. The janitor came to "fix" the door to my classroom given that it doesn't lock and we have had lots of theft in the building (including 2 new computers from our lab). Anyway, he banged on the door for about a half hour with a crowbar during my reading workshop and left pronouncing the problem "fixed." What he really did was damage the door further and cause all the paint (many many many layers) to chip off and fall on the floor every time the door is opened or shut. Just what we need!!! Lead paint chips on the floor!!!

Ms. M said...

Wow. Just, wow.

tchr33 said...

As another first grade teacher, I read your blog and it was hilarious. It sounds so far-fetched, but it's so true. I laugh, and then I get really discouraged. You seem like a great teacher with a lot of great ideas (things I wouldn't have thought to do) and still the kids aren't connecting. I like the wearing sight word idea. The shared reading of a kids' story and covering up all the "the" words. All of those are great ideas that should make things click for most kids. It SHOULD but it doesn't. I wonder why? Too many kids in one classroom? No parental support at home? Home life makes them not be able to focus at school? What could it be???