Two Weeks Down

We are two weeks in to the new school year and I’m giving my first properly graded assessment today. I’m not really satisfied with it, from a standards-based perspective, but I hope it will do a good job of capturing how my students have done with our quick “practice/review” unit.

We have a big problem in my district (well, math teachers consider it a problem – parents and students may not!) with students wanting to skip 6th grade math and jump into 7th. We already teach Algebra to all 8th graders, so this is quite an accelleration, and really does not suit most students well. But, parents and students are keen to skip (because who DOESN’T want to take Calculus as a high school junior?), so whenever we start the year off with something other than really hard and completely new math, we get plenty of requests for students to skip into 7th grade.

It’s really frustrating and a bit ridiculous, really. In an effort to combat the problem this year, I’ve been billing our initial lessons as practicing how we learn in 6th grade rather than reviewing the actual math content. Instead of reviewing place value, we discussed what a Learning Target is and how to know if you’ve mastered it. Instead of reviewing ordering decimals, rounding and estimating, we practiced taking notes and identifying vocabulary words and key concepts. Yesterday, instead of reviewing adding and subtracting decimals, we learned how to do a whiteboard activity in class.

And so – my desks are filthy! The brand-new desks chosen for our brand-new school do not have smooth surfaces, but rather a textured mottled surface that grabs on to and keeps every stray bit of pencil shavings, lead, and eraser leavings. Well, I’ve also discovered the desks are a magnet for the teensy bits of whiteboard marker that wipe off of the individual use boards.

Does anyone have tips for cleaning desk surfaces? Back-to-school night is Tuesday and these desks are ridiculous!!

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