Monday, November 14, 2005

72. Deering school

I figure I should probably be a more efficient blogger and give everyone a good idea of what my day is like here, as well as the days of the teenagers I teach.

Rod is the principal. He’s a pretty good guy. (OK, you are probably wondering if, if I thought he wasn’t would I say so in a blog? Well, probably not, but I wouldn’t lie either.) If you watch Dharma and Greg (fun show!) Rod strikes me as a cross between the old Indian guy and Larry.

When you come ion the school building, you are right next to the gym, which also functions as the lunchroom and the auditorium. It is pretty much a big open room (well, like all gyms are). On one wall are some tables and benches that fold out of the wall for people to sit at and eat. We hope that next summer the gym can be expanded to make room for bleachers.

Next to the gym is the office.

Past the gym is the hallway for the younger kids. There are, I think four classrooms. Maybe five?

Above the office and part of the gym are two classrooms for the older students. One of them is my classroom, the other is Scott’s. We both teach the middle school and the high school students. The classrooms have doorways facing each other with sort of a vestibule between them with a printer, a water fountain, a few lockers, and the door to the bathroom.

Scott and I both get here around 8. The students start trickling in then, and either come upstairs to work on the computers or play in the gym. Breakfast is served at 8:30, and mostly consists of cold cereal and milk (from a mix), canned fruit, and often a freshly baked muffin. (It is OK, but would be a lot better if the milk was cold.) They unfold the tables for students to eat. The tables take up a very small part of the gym, so the kids still play.

School starts at 9. About half the MS kids and half the HS kids have a “healthy living” class in my classroom, taught by April (Rod’s wife). The other half of each class has gym with Scott. The students will switch halfway through the year.

At 9:45 I get the MS kids for math, while Scott gets the HS kids for literature. At 10:45 we switch kids; I have the HS kids for geometry, and Scott had the MS kids for lit.

At 11:45, I have kids for an elective. Rod often reads to the students. He finished “Flowers for Algernon” and is now reading “Where the Red Fern Grows”. I like just listening; it is sort of a luxury to be read to. For the rest of the period, I do math related stuff with them. I have the students play nim with each other, and I keep track of who wins. I am currently having students research a number of their choosing (all the students chose positive integers, although that was not a requirement) and will make an 8.5” x 11” poster on the computer that I will print up on the color printer and laminate. I also put up posterboard with sections numbered 0 through 111 for students to write in how to find the numbers using 4 4s. I think I am going to have the students make Soma Cube sets with a bunch of wooden cubes the school was planning to get rid of. Maybe a while after that we can make sets for Towers of Hanoi.

While I do this, Scott has the other students for Journalism. They came out with a pretty good first edition of this years school paper with is not yet online, but I will update the link when I can.

12:30 is lunch.

At 1:00 I have the MS students for general science, while Scott has the HS students for global studies. At 2:00 we switch, I have the HS students for earth science, Scott has the MS students for world history. (Since students spend several years in HS, the sciences rotate. Last year the HS students all had physics.) At 3:00 school ends.

I mostly work in my room until about 4:30 and then go to the post office before it closes.

Each class has about 14 students. I have a total of 29 different kids.

I do NOT miss an annoying bell that always manages to ring in the middle of a sentence so the students all get up even though you are talking and walk out!!!!!! (I HATE bells!) We have a radical system instead – We have a clock in each classroom, and when the teacher sees that it is time for the class to end, she/he sends the students to the other room.

It works.

Ahhhh, earth science!!

Being way up there near the pre-historic land bridge to Asia, do you find your kids have a special interest in how North American fauna got here? (The tusk photo you posted earlier was great.)

In much of the eastern and western U.S., geology field trips were a highlight. In a couple of hundred miles of driving (or further for overnight trips), you can get into all sorts of diverse geology. Where you are, though, it must be a lot more difficult (except for fossil hunting).

Do you see any conflict, as we have in the Lower 48, in the teaching of evolution vs. "intelligent design"? In Bible Belt Texas, that's a real hot battle.

Personally, I don't see that there's any necessary conflict. As a scientist, I can accept the paleological record of evolutionary chains of species. Yet when you follow it all back to the beginning (Big Bang or other theories), I have no trouble telling myself that there is a divine being that caused it to happen. So where's the problem?

Talking about evolution, Amy, I was just wondering whether the native population there has any strong belief of its own in how the world was created.

Most native societies, whether African tribe or Australian aboriginals, have their own legends about the Beginning. They are very different from what Science and Western religion tell us. Sometime I think we Westerners are quite arrogant about how we 'know' what happened.

How strongly do your students believe in what they've been taught in their culture?

I loved reading this entry!! I like having a mental picture of the school and an idea of how your schedule works. Sounds like a warm, nurturing environment.
"warm, nurturing environment" ... indeed it does, ima.
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