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Archive for January, 2014

Marine Studies Spring 2014 starts on the 27th. I am not ready. We are not ready.  We are insane.  Three of us will be teaching a two block class.  In two consecutive blocks, students need to learn content for Ecology, for ½ of their grade level language arts (the writing half), math, and marine industry standards.  I am in charge of math for 16 students whose levels range from pre-algebra to post-algebra 2 and share responsibility for writing standards for four grade levels.

We have promised project based learning, which I have never done before this year. We have promised standards based grading (whew, I tried that last year, so it’s not completely new.)  We have the first project planned, sort of. Last summer we talked about other projects, but it is feeling very nebulous at this point.  We have weekly meetings, but otherwise only talk when we catch each other in the hallway.  There is a facilitator to help, thank god, but we just haven’t put enough time in.

I have my algebra 1 standards.  Kids at pre-algebra will get supplements to catch them up.  I have my algebra 2 standards.  Kids who might have taken geometry will get algebra 2.  Geometry can come next year.  But I don’t know what to do for my one post-algebra 2 kid.  It looks like stats.  Stats would be a good fit, since every project we do will involve looking at data. But I don’t have a scope and sequence for stats; and my text is not core aligned; and I have never taught stats.  Twitterverse, I hope you respond to the plea I posted.

I have until the 27th to wrap my head around the stats and generate a list of standards for the student (and me). Or maybe the 28th, since the first class is a planned field day. I really don’t want to have to make it up as I go along, but I can’t just follow the text either. Not in a project based setting. Did I say we were insane?

I hope to document this semester of insanity.  I’m afraid the load is going to be too heavy to allow time for reflection, but I think the reflection is going to be critical to keeping the course moving forward. At the least, I will be able to look back and say hey, remember when we tried that crazy course?

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Eleven days. 11. Only two more weekends.  Then it begins. Second semester.

Three teachers. 16 students. 4 content areas (three levels of math). Two and a half hours, five days a week.

When I put it in black and white, my stomach starts to knot up. How, why did I ever think I needed to be part of this?

On January 27, our second semester begins. On that day, Marine Studies Pathway (spring 2014) begins. The first semester (the trial class of one period, one content area, and two teachers), it wasn’t great. Now we have pretty much the same kids for second semester MSP.

In two and a half hours a day, five days a week, three of us have to teach them Marine Ecology, Marine Industry Standards (think Captain’s license), grade level writing (half their english credit), and Math. English at four different grade levels. Three different courses in Math: Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Trig, or maybe Stats.  Half the class with IEP’s (oh, sure, there’s an ed tech to help). And the syllabus is still. not. written. [do you hear me screaming in terror?]

All eyes are on us as we attempt this new program dreamed up by a crazy principal who thinks he can keep all his kids in school by making school more relevant to their lives.  No one thinks it can be done; except maybe the principal.  And the facilitator. Thank god for the facilitator and her organization skills.

Hours have been spent on the big picture. What do we want them to learn? What are the standards? Who are the community partners? How can we work with them to provide authentic projects to frame our students’ learning? How will we structure the course? How will we structure the class? How will we three teachers work together from our different content areas? These are questions we have struggled with.  These are questions we are still struggling with.

One science teacher, one marine trades teacher, and one math teacher (and an ed tech). I think all three of us must be slightly insane.

So in eleven days, this will happen. Ready or not, here they come.

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