Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Distraction

8th graders taking a test.  Uh oh.

It was a history class.  The test was titled "The Age of Jackson".  Multiple choice.  The students got ten minutes of panic cram time, and as I walked the room, their conversations were pretty much on topic.  (Although, one boy confused Seminole with Samoa, but I asked about it, and he figured out that he was saying the wrong word.)

Then I laid out the ground rules.  These are the things they should know, but I needed to remind them that they were taking a test, and sub behavior wouldn't be excused.

The groups were pretty good.  I had to insist on silence before I got it.  But once they got into the test, keeping them silent wasn't an issue.  Well, except with one group.

Some kids just haven't figured out how to take cues from the room.  Theo was having pencil trouble, so he got up to sharpen the pencil (with permission).  The pencil sharpeners in the room were terrible--they didn't do what their name implied they were supposed to do.  Theo gave up.

Now, any reasonable person, in a quiet room, wouldn't do this.  But Theo...  He announced to the room that he was in need of a pencil, and he wondered if anyone could lend him one.  The question was nominally directed at me, but it included the whole class.  One girl and one boy went into their backpacks, searching.  The girl got out a pencil first.

Somehow, the rest of the class managed to remain in test mode.  How?  I have no idea.

Theo finished his test quickly.  He asked what he should do (a little too loudly, of course).  I rattled off a list of possibly activities.  He asked if he could do work for another class.  I said sure.  He decided that he would rather ball up paper and throw it at the trash can.

At this point I had other students finish the test, and I had to remind them that I needed silence until all the tests were turned in.  Theo asked if he could take a nap.  He didn't.

Theo wasn't the only issue in class.  There were two others who I had to keep an eye on.  They were also finished with their tests and getting into distraction territory with their activities.  Luckily, all they needed was reminding (and the occasional Stare).  I didn't have to resort to harsher inducements to quiet.

Finally, everyone finished the test.  I asked how they had done.  Theo said that he could have done better if he had studied, since he hadn't studied at all.  Of course he hadn't.

Then I put on a video for the rest of the period.  I could relax.  At least, I could relax until the next class' test.

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