Does anyone feel that students ability to retain material is not what is used to be?  I have been teaching for 16 years now and it seems that when a student is exposed to a new lesson, it goes in one ear and out the other.  They are really good with it during class, but when they walk out of the building it all goes away.  I have heard so many kids come in the next day and ask me what we did the day before.  Also, if I tell them we are having a test the next day, they show up without a pencil and are totally oblivious to the test on that day.   I have seen so many kids who don't do their homework if they can't get it done during the school day.  I always tell them that they can take it home and work on it, it won't hurt my feelings.  It really seems like it is more challenging today than it ever was.  I have also never seen such a diversity of learning abilities in each class.  There are many kids who can't handle the pace of the algebra 2 requirement and then a select few that can breeze through it.  Pacing has become a real challenge.  Most of the students just can't keep up, so I end up holding back some of the smart students to teach to the majority.  I really find it troubling that we hold back the gifted and talented.


Maybe all of the bombardment of information via cell phone, computer, ipod, etc.... are causing this, I just don't know.  It seems that kids just can't remember pertinent school information like they use to.  Has anyone seen this trend going on also?  I would be curious as to what teachers in other parts of the state think.  Maybe teaching in a depressed area has a lot to do with it?  I am just trying to figure out what is going on.



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Comment by Arthur Weiss on January 19, 2012 at 6:51am

I was feeling the same way as you a couple of years ago (except my anger was directed at HSCEs and feeling overwhelmed).  For me the solution came in the form of what is called "spiral review homework" This is not my idea, I got it off a colleague who when to a conference and told me about it... I'm sure I should be giving someone credit for this, but I truly cant remember who came up with this.  If you google this you are going to find a HUGE number of defintions, but here is what i use:  

I stopped giving homework on our current topic.

 For example, currently my students are studying "key features of quadratic equations".  We have already tested on lines, systems, and exponential functions... so in the key features unit, their only homework will come from the units they have already tested on.  We never have homework on the topic that we are still learning about... we work on those things in class only... homework is always old stuff...  

My little cherubs love it!  I've seen improved retention of material and increased achievement.  

Everybody's situations is different and what works for me may not work in your school, but I strongly reccomend giving it a try for at least one unit.


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