My child's school. What would you do?

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Jerseygirlteach, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 6, 2013

    My son started middle school this year and I'm really disappointed. He tells me that most of what he does is copy notes. The only projects he's had are book reports for reading. For science he has lab only once every two weeks. Other than that, it's just notes. He told me that he finished a project in computers two days ago and, since many of his classmates are still working on it, the teacher told him to "just do whatever" and he's been watching YouTube videos.

    Where are the research projects? The group work? The fun learning activities? The experiments? (other than lab 2x a month)

    I've never been vocal, because I know how teachers can turn on kids with troublemaking parents and I never thought it would do any good anyway. I don't even know if I'm justified. Should middle school be primarily sitting in a room reading from a textbook and copying notes? If so, where's the higher level thinking? How are multiple learning styles being addressed?

    I told him we're going to start doing supplimental work at home. He's really thrilled about it, by the way. :rolleyes: But if you were me, would you speak up about it? If so, what would you do?
     
  2.  
  3. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Messages:
    1,016
    Likes Received:
    38

    Dec 6, 2013

    Are you positive that what's being reported at home is the gospel truth? I'd just send a friendly email to the teacher asking what they've been up to in class, say you want to keep up with what he's been doing.
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Dec 6, 2013

    This.
     
  5. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,118
    Likes Received:
    36

    Dec 6, 2013

    I recently did 2 peer observations. As a special ed teacher, I was ASTOUNDED by the amount of note taking. I truly thought that was a thing of the past.
     
  6. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Messages:
    1,016
    Likes Received:
    38

    Dec 6, 2013

    Well, I don't know about middle school, but my HS school students take notes every single day. We do activities as well, but they have to get the information down.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Dec 6, 2013

    Maybe I'm out of the loop, but to me note-taking should happen just about every day in secondary. I don't know that students should always be taking notes in the same way (lecture, book, PowerPoint, whatever) every single day or for the entire class period all the time, but I do think that they should be taking notes in some way at least several times per week. In my class, I direct students to take notes on whatever I'm doing on the board, whatever I talk about in a lecture format (pretty rare in my class, basically just for stories/myths/legends), whatever vocab and grammar information is in the textbook, and sometimes stuff in a PowerPoint. Without the notes, they're going to forget a whole bunch of what we talk about in class. The notes let them refer back to a lesson and recall the material that they need to be learning.

    Am I missing something here? Is this totally archaic?
     
  8. bros

    bros Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Messages:
    4,105
    Likes Received:
    68

    Dec 6, 2013

    When I went through 7-12, all we did was take notes. We never had any research projects.

    First time I did a research paper was in college.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Dec 6, 2013

    If a kid is not taking notes in my class, we have a problem.

    He goes from my class to seven others. If he doesn't write it down, he's never going to remember it. We work bell to bell for 38 minutes-- that's a lot of material, and it all has to be written down. And, as much as I push mental math, they've got to write down the major steps of any problem we do... and we do a lot of problems.

    On the first day of school, I told my kids to either get a big binder, or several of the largest notebooks they could find. Those who choose notebooks are just about done with their first 3 or 5 subject notebook after 4 months.

    My kids will do a project in the spring. And I do mix things up a bit from day to day. But, as I always say, I can teach with no voice. But if I every break my right arm, I'm in real trouble.
     
  10. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Messages:
    3,224
    Likes Received:
    146

    Dec 6, 2013

    We take notes for about 10 minutes per week over grammar mini lessons. About twice per quarter my seniors take notes on history.

    Everything else is done by reading, study guides, projects, etc...
     
  11. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,118
    Likes Received:
    36

    Dec 6, 2013

    YAY!
     
  12. chemistrynerd

    chemistrynerd Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2013
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 6, 2013

    I teach Chemistry (Science) and my students take a lot of notes--otherwise, they aren't going to learn the material. They don't generally read, so I can guarantee that they have received information if they take notes (generally, I do powerpoints). We also do some labs and hands-on activities, and they do a lot of practice problems (since chem has a lot of math). Notes are generally inevitable in math/science (like physical sciences). I also give some research projects (esp. in honors/AP classes) but in secondary, students need to know that they need to take notes to learn the material.
     
  13. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,429
    Likes Received:
    947

    Dec 6, 2013

    I've taught middle school forever. Their perspective varies from reality. Check with the teacher. I've had kids claim the strangest things happen in my room.

    • We never use computers. (Online quizzes EVERY Monday)
    • We never do any work. (Seriously?)
    • We never get papers back. (They get them back. He didn't take them.)
    • She won't give me my missing work. (She wouldn't check the missing work list posted in the room.)
    • Tutoring was full. (Tutoring was for kids without access to Internet at home. They have Internet. It's their homework.)
    • She won't help me. (Student refused help.)
     
  14. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2006
    Messages:
    1,598
    Likes Received:
    35

    Dec 6, 2013

    I was also thinking that it may be an issue of perception. My colleagues and I work very hard to vary our methods of delivery and the types of assignments given. However, students must have some notes so they can study for tests. In grade 6, we take notes on graphic organizers, or sometimes skeleton notes with some blanks. As the year progresses, students are able to take notes more independently. I'm not a fan of "projects" especially the kind that seem like glorified craft projects that students resist, therefore causing their parents to intervene inappropriately.
     
  15. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Messages:
    807
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 6, 2013

    I'd probably not say anything. IMHO, all teachers are different and have their own ways of doing things. Maybe some of it is depending on some circumstances? I know one year projects and group work were few and far between because of the group of kids I had. :2cents:

    Beth
     
  16. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    Messages:
    3,591
    Likes Received:
    3

    Dec 6, 2013

    My GS is in middle school.

    #He never has homework.
    #The teacher won't give him his make up work.
    #If you are absent, you don't have to make up the work.
    #He is not allowed to go to his locker.

    The list could go on and on, but we know better. If you are in doubt, contact the teacher. We email most teachers once a week.
     
  17. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Messages:
    2,397
    Likes Received:
    4

    Dec 7, 2013

    I will second this. I quickly discovered that the class I have this year does best with very basic, direct instruction lessons. When I try to mix things up, they can't handle it very well. They are also not very independent, so projects and things just wouldn't work well. Now, it's not that we NEVER do them, but they don't happen as often as they might with a different class.

    And I definitely agree with kids' perceptions often being a little skewed, so that might 'exaggerate' the situation.
     
  18. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2012
    Messages:
    919
    Likes Received:
    40

    Dec 7, 2013

    Definitely. My fourth graders do one of two things for "note-taking": either cut and paste of steps for math problems which I buy off of Teachers Pay Teachers walking them through math procedures OR if I can't find a decent one--we write step 1) yada yada yada step 2) yada yada yada. This is especially important because things like Partial Quotients (method of dividing) and box method (method of multiplying) and lattice method (method of multiplying) are things parents have never seen before. They have no clue how to help the kids practice at home. Step by step examples and explanations are crucial.

    In science we read the section, take notes on the section (very very brief notes), and do some sort of activity (like an experiment), and then quiz. We do science 2 days a week, math dominates the rest of the time, they'd never remember the stuff from last week if they didn't write it down and have them to refer to.

    Can't help it. They need more exposure and practice with the math--and science, unfortunately, takes the backburner to math.



    I would prefer to do what I did in middle school, where I would show a power point and the kids would fill in a copy of the notes.

    Example:
    ____________________, ruler of Akkad, called himself the King of the Universe.

    And they would write in Ashurbanipal.

    They then had their notes/study guide for the quiz.

    Unfortunately, my new school has a copy limit. I would max out my copies in two or three months if they kids didn't copy down notes instead of filling in blanks.

    Also, unfortunately, I've stopped making notes on power point, and just type them into word and print them out and show them on the document camera. My laptop is so darn slow, freezes, and needs rebooting about every 5 minutes if I am using the laptop for anything other than the interactive smartboard or document camera. I've offered to purchase my own laptop that would be "school property," as in they can keep it if I leave so I could actually TEACH with the laptop===nope. Someone reimaged it and it hasn't helped at all...
     
  19. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 7, 2013

    Please let me clarify. There is nothing wrong with note-taking. I completely understand that middle school kids need to take notes. I taught 7th and 8th grade for a year and I gave a lot of notes. But I also put them in groups and gave them research projects. For mid-terms, they made Trivial Pursuit style board games and made relevant questions on index cards and then played them in class. I had them assume roles as different Revolutionary War characters, give speeches, and answer questions from the class. They created rap songs about the branches of government and made diagrams. They made posters about historical characters and presented them. So while I completely appreciate the need for note-taking, it's the "just" in "just taking notes" that is bothering me.

    His friends were over last night while I saw the replies. They told me if a rare project here or there but most of them agreed that the vast majority of what they do is worksheets and notes. Everyone has their own style of teaching, but that's just not what I was hoping for.
     
  20. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Messages:
    4,294
    Likes Received:
    940

    Dec 7, 2013

    Is your child in public school? If the note taking/few projects thing is consistant in all subjects then maybe this is the way things are done in this particular school. The departments might have certaing ways of doing things not just one particular teacher. I guess I wouldn't say anything either and if I didn't agree with the way teachers did things I'd look into private school. There is nothing wrong with your idea for supplimental work either.
     
  21. Jeky

    Jeky Comrade

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 7, 2013

    I completely agree with you, and I would feel the same way. Granted, I teach 6th grade math so I can only speak from the perspective of my content area....IMO, it seems like a math class that only consists of notes and practice problems is basically an attempt to stuff students brains with information that they simply need to "remember". Math especially is not (*only) about memorizing problems and facts and procedures. What about problem solving, perseverance, critical thinking....? In my mind it is extremely hard to hit those areas when class simply consists of "this is how you solve this type of problem, now write it down".
     
  22. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 7, 2013

    I teach 7/8 grade and I struggle with this a lot. My 8th graders hate to do anything but take notes and do worksheets. They have been like this for the three years I have had them. I finally gave up and now we do take a lot of notes and do worksheets. I try and have them take notes in different ways and we do a lot of document analysis and things of that nature. But sometimes certain classes are not good classes to do projects and "fun" things with. Maybe your son's class is like this?
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. vickilyn,
  2. msleep
Total: 558 (members: 3, guests: 534, robots: 21)
test