Archive | September, 2014

Just one of those days

23 Sep

Monday was an AMAZING teaching day.  It was one of those days that really energize me and remind me how much I LOVE being a teacher.

Some amazing things are happening in English 10A.  We started the day with a discussion about Banned Books in honor of Banned Books Week.  Students shared a lot of great ideas and opinions on the topics.  We talked about choice and why it is important and starting thinking about who has the right to choose.  We discussed both sides of the issue a bit.  Students will reflect on the topic more with their Article of the Week assignment.

Even our grammar lesson was great today.  I have been following the work of Jeff Anderson for nearly five years now.  I used to hate teaching grammar; I absolutely love it now.  We start on Mondays with a mentor sentence to talk about the skill we are focusing on this week.  Last week we did semi-colons, and we are discussing colons this week.  The mentor sentence opened up a lot of discussion on skills we have started working with and the different was we may use them.  We also made some great connections.  More and more students are participating in our discussions on Mondays and sharing great ideas.

Our discussion about our mentor sentence this week.

Our discussion about our mentor sentence this week.

Another added bonus about today?  My Donors Choose books arrived!  I cannot wait to share these titles with students!!

I am hoping to carry this awesome day throughout the week.  I hope you all have a great week!

Talk Less

11 Sep

I have a new goal this year.  And I think it is going to be a hard one.  I am going to talk less.

While it took me a little longer than most to start talking, I haven’t stopped much since.  I am a talker.  However, I am realizing that this is not always the best skill in teaching.  Especially as I am striving to make my classroom student-centered.  I notice I sometimes steal my students’ thunder.  They have this great idea to add and I say it before I get to them.  I really want to stop that.

I want my students to discover that they are smart and have amazing ideas.  If I say them, or don’t give them the time to come to them, I feel that I am robbing them of a very important part of their education.  I also want to make sure they have time to work and practice what we are working on.

So here is my new goal for the year: Talk less.  The class is not all about me.  It has to be about my students.  I know it will be hard for a talker like me, but I know it will be worth it in the end.

Wish me luck!

Week 1 in Review

7 Sep

Well, year 8 of teaching is well underway.  Overall, it was a pretty great first week of school!

I am teaching English 10 A and a section of our Tier 3 intervention class. I am looking forward to working with these sophomores.  I started the year with a writing prompt where they wrote on this quote: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”  My friend Beth talked about using this on the first day with her students and it inspired me.  We discussed after students shared how this applies to English.  I want them to try new things in reading and writing.  Maybe it won’t go perfectly the first time.  However, we can grow and learn from those experience to become better readers and writers.

We also started a persuasive writing unit.  We discussed the aspects of persuasive writing then looked at where people make arguments in the real world.  Inspired by Penny Kittle’s work, I pulled a number of editorials as mentor texts.  So far, we have read some work by Leonard Pitts.  We have looked at what words, phrase, and techniques he uses to make is writing interesting.  We also talked about how we can see those elements that we associate with persuasive writing in his articles.  As on student pointed out, “His writing isn’t boring.”  I told my students that not a single one of them is boring and they have a lot to say and share.  We are going to work on becoming better writers and hopefully make this type of writing not so boring.

My students in the intervention class are very sweet.  It is all freshmen and it has been awhile since I have total a classroom with just freshmen.  We are working through the program together and I am trying to point out how these comprehension skills will apply to a variety of their classes.  We also have been sharing books and doing SSR.  We will also do some writing as well as the weeks go on.  I am looking forward to working with and getting to know this group more.

In all classes we have talked quite a bi about books and shared titles.  Many books have been checked out.  I am noticing a pretty awesome shift when I talk to students about reading.  In the past, most students would say they did not like reading at all.  As we have really worked together to create a reading culture in our school, more students have shifted to saying the “kind of” like reading.  The book has to interest them for them to like it.  I stress to my students that’s why they have choice in my class and why it is so important.  They seem to appreciate it.  My reading challenge to students this year is to read more than they read last year.

There were a number of great moments, but one sticks in my head.  A student joined our fifth hour on Friday.  I helped him get his folder and notebook set up then asked about reading.  He told me he did not like it at all and there wasn’t much he would want to read about.  I asked if I could bring a few books for him to at least look at.  He agreed.  In the pile, I included Rooftop by Paul Volponi.  I told him about Paul’s experiences that inspired his writing as I shared a little about each book in the pile.  During SSR time, the student did look through all the books and started reading Rooftop.  He seemed to read a few pages.  I asked if he wanted to check it out and he did.  I’m hoping this is a start for that student and he sees himself as a reader.

I really can’t wait to see where we go this year in all my classes.  I hope all teachers and students have had a great start to the 2014-2015 school year!