9/13/13 Wants

I want more time. Someone needs to invent a personal time machine that somehow doesn’t age you, so if I use it several times a day I won’t die at thirty. Maybe a normal time machine should be prototyped first.

A machine like that would give me time to do homework, practice piano, read the many books in my queue, get ahead of my classes by reading the textbook, keep up with my Edx and Courseera courses, peruse Khan Academy, examine the various languages that interest me, try composing some music, learn more about Java and C++ as well as the web suite of tools (HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc.), examine Haskell, find out what discrete math is, work on my merit badges needed to get to Eagle, learn more about nanotechnology and try to penetrate quantum physics, learn more about circuitry and basic electronics (and build a Tesla coil!), get my ham radio license, find an examiner for my NAP exam, finish Deus Ex and start the other games in my queue, and possibly hang out with some friends once or twice.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something; I might edit the post later.

EDIT: 10/2/13: I have completed Deus Ex. It was magnificent.

Busy busy bees

Last semester, Algebra II was fun. For homework, all we had were a couple interesting problems, maybe ten or so. Now? We get more like twenty or thirty problems- and these are in-depth, five-minute problems. If I can do these things five or ten times, I can do them twenty times (assuming skills are not introduced within the homework, which would be another problem within itself). This is why I rarely enjoyed classes in elementary school and why I used to read under my desk all the time.
I understand the teacher is trying to figure out how to help the kids who did poorly on the midterm by making them practice more, but this is not a solution. If they failed to understand the material before, what makes you think they will understand better once they copy even more of their friend’s answer, or follow the same set of instructions more times, but still come out with the wrong answer, thus teaching the kid the wrong solution, confusing him and undermining his confidence, and wasting everyone’s time? This just makes them hate the class more than they may have before. Busywork is (almost) never ever ever the answer.

A better solution would be to list problems in addition to a few for homework that are, say, extra credit, or even completely optional. If you fail a test, you must do more homework/worksheets than before the last test (not for extra credit, for a grade- probably just a completion grade). If you pass the next test, the worksheets are optional again.
This teaches kids responsibility- if they need to do extra work to pass the class, and they know it, it becomes their responsibility to work harder until they actually do fail a test, at which point the teacher intervenes. It gives the kid a fair chance to be mature and grow up (several chances, actually) while not leaving their success entirely up to them.

Naturally, special exceptions must apply, such as a kid who misunderstood one critical skill but otherwise excels, and once taught the missing skill demonstrates a good understanding of the material. That was just a summary of what I believe would work better.Богородица

Conversation: I do not think that means what you think it means…

[After discussing an upcoming project, then being released to 'free study' time...]

Teacher: “Noah, Doug, do your work. I know you both have something to do.”

Noah: “But I’m being creative and using my imagination and engineering skills in Minecraft.”

Teacher: “No. That does not count. Do your work here; you can play Minecraft all you want at home.”

Noah: “But at home I have to do my work.”

Teacher: “…”

Doug: “You know, he does have a point.”

Educational Punishment

In class today, one of my teachers sent a girl out of the room to do her unfinished homework. If a kid acts up and won’t stop misbehaving, she sends him/her outside of the room for several minutes. Those solutions seem to defeat the purpose of school: to learn. I think that, when deciding how to punish students, they should keep one main objective in mind: keep the student learning. One of the best ways to do this is to keep the student in the room. Then, the teacher can frequently call on them, so that even if they don’t know the answer to the question they are asked, the teacher can kinda-sorta deduce what the student does not know and explain to them what they’re missing. If the student is stuck outside twiddling their thumbs or doing a worksheet, they’re not really learning anything. They probably don’t know the answer to worksheet questions anyway.

If a student fails to complete their homework, do not send them outside of the room to complete their work because of the reasons above. Give them incentive to do it after class (along with any further homework) by perhaps saying that they must sit through ISS or otherwise be punished. Avoid extra homework, because that could easily stack up, creating far too many worksheets to keep track of.