Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Kids Kicked that CAT's Ass

13.1 Sitting the PSSC CAT

I don't like to brag, but my students rocked that CAT yesterday. I had one student who completed the entire CAT and all of the Bonus work (for an extra 10 points) in the allotted time and several other students who started on the Bonus work.

Yesterday morning I got to school early and started switching out old keyboards or keyboards with missing keys with spare keyboards I had left over after putting the new computers in the upstairs lab. I also switched out some really crappy mice for better mice. I had already set up the Year 13 CAT login on the computers for the students to sit the CAT the night before.

Right after morning assembly my 13.1 students came to the lab to sit their CAT. One student was missing. I was concerned, but there was nothing that could be done about it at the time. I read them the instructions and handed out the task and questions sheets and started the time for 60 minutes. During the CAT I made a constant loop around the room and marked off the time in five-minute increments on the board. I haven't marked all the CATs yet, but I believe that all but one of the 13.1 students completed all the steps in the CAT in the allotted hour and that one rocktastic student also completed all of the Bonus materials. 

Students were allowed to ask for help, they just lost one mark every time and I had very little help asking from this group.

13.2 Sitting the PSSC CAT

When 13.1 had finished, I sent them out to round up 13.2 and send them to me. Thankfully, the missing 13.1 student showed up with the 13.2 group. She had been late to school that morning, but she was still able to sit the CAT. Unfortunately, there was a 13.2 student missing. The students said they had seen her that morning, but that she had gone home. Well, I would just have to sit the CAT with this group and try to sort her out afterwards. Once again, I read the instructions, passed out the sheets and set the time for one hour. Once again, I made a constant circuit around the room and marked the time off on the board. 

This time I could see more students struggling. Every time I made a circuit and saw a student aimlessly clicking or creating tables or doing other things that were not CAT helpful I would say out loud to the students, "Remember, you can ask for help. It is only minus one mark. It is better to ask for help and lose one mark then to not finish the CAT." I also reminded them that if a question they didn't know how to do was worth only one mark, just skip it and go on to the next one. The more they finished, the more marks they could receive. 

I must have reminded the students this over 100 times during that hour and still there were two girls who hadn't been to class or practise regularly in quite a while, who were obviously floundering on the CAT and who refused to ask me for help. I cannot force the help on them. They have to make the decision to sacrifice a mark, I cannot decide for them they will lose a mark for help. But their refusal to ask for help was starting to drive me nuts. Neither of them completed the CAT.

However, the rest of 13.2 did a pretty fantastic job. From the looks of it, most of them completed all the tasks. I just have to see how well they did at completing them.

After the CATs were done, I headed to the upstairs lab which I had unlocked that morning not realizing that I was going to be the only computer teacher at school. I was worried I would discover a room full of unsupervised students doing horrible things to the new computers (someone students have already figured out how to move the taskbars or delete it all together and how to remove the applications menu from the taskbar...useful things like that). However, I discovered an empty, undisturbed lab. I was proud.

Bird in the Hand

While checking on the lab, I ran into a student with a bird perched on his finger. As it turns out it had a broken wing and the students were just sort of passing it around, petting it. The bird was totally calm about the whole situation. I warned them all to wash their hands when they were done. 

I had completed all this by the end of lunch, so there were still three more periods in the day. The Year 12 classes were scheduled for that morning, but didn't happen because I was doing the Year 13 CAT. I had both Year 13s scheduled for fourth period (once a week, I have them all together). They showed up and I told them they could have a free period since they just finished their CAT. Then I had two more free periods of students working on IAs and playing games.

Several students came to ask if I knew the Seven Wonders of the World. The Wikipedia on the computers didn't have a list, so I took my laptop up to the office and borrowed the phone line to look it up on the internet Wikipedia. As it turns out there are many different Seven Wonders lists (Ancient World, Medieval World, Natural World, Modern World and even a new list voted on in 2007). This sort of baffled the students who expected a more definitive list.

Last Student Sitting the PSSC CAT

Not long after the last bell rang my missing 13.2 student showed up.

"Where have you been?" I asked. "You missed the CAT. I am not supposed to let you take it now."

"Hard labor," was the reply.

That's right, she had been assigned to hard labor punishment the day of her CAT that is worth 30% of her grade in computers. She had spent the whole day across the street working at one of the other teacher's house. She was hot and tired and dirty from cleaning all day and now she needed to sit her CAT.

"Didn't you tell them you had  a CAT?"

Shoulder shrug response.

Cale had promised to be home with a celebratory, end-of-CAT meal of Mexican food immediately after school, but instead I sat the student down, read the instructions, handed her the sheets and started the time for one hour. She called me over after 40 minutes to say she was finished. I tried to convince her to do the Bonus work, but she was tired and wanted to go home.

I stuck around a little longer to finish a project I started while she was sitting the CAT. I have been yelling at students all year to stop saving music and games to the shared docs folder on the teacher computer. That is not what the shared docs is for and it fills up the hard drive on the teacher computer. That day during the last free periods I had reached my limit when I once again opened the shared folder and discovered games saved (and secreted away in other folders) multiple times. So I went around to all the computers in the lab and deleted all the games. I also came across folders of video clips. I watched them all and deleted any ones with naked people or sexually explicit content. I feel like such a crotchety grown up right now.

Anyway, CAT done! Now I just have to teach them theory and keyboarding before the beginning of October.

— Sara


annette said...

congrats on your teaching skills and patience.

Barb Carusillo said...

You are like a modern Sysyphus, only you succeeded in rolling that boulder up the hill and parking it at the top! Way to go kiddo!
Sorry to hear you feel like you are joining the ranks of us crochety old people...hey, most of us started out wanting to be easy going and charming, but sometimes teenage behavior makes one crazy!
At least you are dealing with Sexting, which is in the news here. IPS is trying to figure out how to deal with it.

Barb Carusillo said...

I meant "ARE NOT" when I put are, when talking about Sexting. I am hoping the Samoan kids aren't doing that anyway.

Cale and Sara join the Peace Corps said...

I dunno. All my kids have cell phones. They could be sexting and I wouldn't know.