Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crime Unit: a success?

They say that teachers should teach things relevant to their students' lives. This week, I taught about crime, murder and blackmail and treachery, and my 9th graders threatened to commit them.

We've been doing a unit on crime for the past few weeks, and to finish off the unit I planned one last vocab quiz. Instead of making it myself, I decided to let them write it, figuring they would write a much harder quiz than I would anyway. You should know that the class is divided into two halves, and I teach each half twice a week. For the purpose of this post, I'm going to call them Sneaky Class and Kind Class.

So on Tuesday, I had a lesson with Sneaky Class, and told them the plan: write down 20 vocab words on a sheet of paper, and it would be a quiz for the other half of the class (meaning, they would have to define or use each of the words). For some reason (foresight, maybe?), I also insisted they write their names on it. Sneaky Class wrote their quizzes. On Wednesday I repeated the procedure with Kind Class. And today, Thursday, everyone took a quiz. In the 6th lesson, Sneaky Class took their quiz with a minimum of sniveling (I suppose that should have been the tip-off that something was amiss). At the end of the lesson when I collected them, I glanced through them and saw that they had done pretty well.

Enter the 7th lesson, and I was accosted by the Kind Class begging not to take the test. "Don't worry," I tried to soothe them, "the other half of the class just took it, and it wasn't that bad. So I'm sure you'll do fine."

They did not do fine. They struggled, sighed gut-wrenching sighs, swore under their breath, and managed to complete about half the test. Many of them cursed the writers of the tests. Remember how I'd had Sneaky Class write their names on their tests? Now each student in Kind Class knew exactly who to blame for their troubles. In the middle of the lesson, one girl broke under the pressure and blurted out, "I'm going to kill her! Those stupid liars!"

"What?" My eyebrows went up a bit. "What do you mean?"

Unabashedly, she sputtered, "Those liars! They told us that they wrote easy tests for us, so we should write easy ones for them. But they wrote hard tests! Very hard!" The rest of the class grumbled in agreement. I sighed, shrugged, tried to help them as much as I could, promised to grade easily... but as I collected the tests, I could see that it's going to take a VERY easy grading scale to even out the grades between the classes.

As I took one girl's paper, she asked me, "Do you like (name of Sneaky Class girl who had written a particularly difficult test)?" "Well, sure," I replied. "That's too bad," girl continued, "Because you won't see her for a while." "Oh?" I asked, not catching on. "Why not?" "She's in the hospital. Or, she will be in the hospital. I will put her there."

So I may or may not have started a vendetta between the two halves of the class. I have to say, I'm a bit disgusted with Sneaky Class (although not totally shocked) for pulling a stunt like that. They were not my favorites to begin with, and if I made a list now they'd be damn near the bottom (although they've got a long way to go before they overtake TerrorClass). The only redeeming fact is that probably only two or three of them are bad apples... I hope.

Final note, the high point of my day - it made me laugh so hard that I stumbled into the teacher's room nearly in tears, and got many a funny look... just after the 7th lesson, I walked upstairs directly behind a member of the Kind Class. Right in front of the teacher's rooms, she ran into one of her friends from the other half of the class. KC girl nodded, said hi, and was about to continue walking past, when suddenly she remembered the injustice just done to her and veered course dramatically with an ominous, "Hey, I need to talk to you...!"

1 comment:

Lama said...

hahaha, how familiar.
(réka from, ahem, kind class)