Tag Archives: memoir

A Great Start!

24 Mar

Well, the school year is officially more than 2/3 of the way done! Last week marked the beginning of trimester three and we are off and running.  This will be my last time teaching a third trimester; next year we are switching to semesters.

I am pretty proud of what was accomplished in trimester 2.  In English 10 A, I really focused on developing our close and critical reading skills and to move into synthesis across texts.  I challenged my students with a full synthesis essay on the American Dream based on our readings.  It was tough for them because they were not used to this type of writing.  However, we worked through and practiced and they stepped up.  They really showed what they learned on the final exams this trimester, too.  The quality of essays greatly improved from what I had seen in the past years and trimesters.  Students even told me they felt more confident going into the exam.  I was proud of them!  I am also gaining confidence in my teaching ability with some of these higher-level skills.  I will continue to work on them the rest of this year and into next year.

Now I get to teach three sections of English 10 B.  This is probably my favorite class to teach!  We start with narrative writing with memoirs.  I follow a workshop model and the students usually respond pretty well.  One of my favorite mini-lessons is the Explode a Moment lesson to help get more descriptive details in the writing.  This one is always fun and the stories students create as we practice the skill lead to a lot of laughter and strong writing moments. We had some great moments this week with this one! I love watching them grow as writers and gain confidence in themselves.

We are also able to do some of my favorite grammar units!  We start with Introductory Clauses.  In grammar, we follow Jeff Anderson‘s model of grammar instruction.  If you are not familiar with his work, you need to check out his books.  I get to borrow his AAWWUBBIS idea and the students create strong sentences and start expanding their writing skills.  These units just make teaching fun.

Plus, the reading has been really strong from the beginning.  We did book tours last week and students checked out books for SSR.  Many students have already been adding books to their To-Read lists.  I have seen students walking in the hall while reading The Selection.  Students keep asking when a book will be back in that they hope to read.  Students are talking more about what they are reading with each other.  I love seeing how reading becomes an accepted and expected part of our routine.  I still am trying to develop their life-long reading skills to carry beyond the classroom, but at least there is a start from all the work being done throughout the year.

There’s really one thing I want this trimester to be all about: fun.  I want students to have fun as they learn and grow as readers and writers.  I want my co-teacher and I to have fun as we continue to grow and learn from our students.  I hope to have some strong communities built by the time we reach June.  I feel pretty rejuvenated and ready to tackle this last part of the school year!

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First Week of T3

31 Mar

Well, the first week of the last third of the school year is in the books.  So far, it has been a great start to the new trimester!  I am loving my classes and some pretty cool things have been going on in them, especially in my three sections of English 10B.

On Tuesday, we did our book pass and quite a large number of students were able to find a book they wanted to check out.  In fact, many students begged that we start reading right away.  So that is exactly what we did.  We took 10 minutes to do some SSR so students could get into their books.

Many students are already enjoying their books.  A boy in my second hour who was notorious for just grabbing different books each day has discovered Paul Volponi thanks to Rucker Park Setup.  His direct quote this week: “I actually like this book.”  This helps to verify that my quote – “You just haven’t found the right book yet” – has some merit.

Another amazing thing I have observed is how much my students talk about books now.  When I started teaching, I did not do any SSR.  And even a few years later when I started doing it, we did not talk too much about books.  I have really strived to make our reading lives part of our classroom community.  For example, when I book talked The Fault in Our Stars by John Green in my third hour, I called on a student who had already read the book to tell about it.  Her enthusiasm about the book had another student take it directly from me and a few more to add it to their to-read lists.  I have also overheard many students in all classes ask each other about the books they are reading and actually discuss what they have been reading without my co-teachers or me prompting these discussions.  We really are building a community of readers.

Our first unit is Narrative Writing and students are writing memoirs about their lives.  When we got to our first drafting day, I told them I had a secret to tell them about writing.  I said, “Writing. Is.”  Before I could finish, I heard a student mumble, “Hard.”  I then said, “Yes it is.  Writing is hard.”  She was so grateful to hear a teacher say that about writing.  I’m glad I have am honest about that now because students need to know it is ok to struggle and that we all struggle with writing.

I also have been modeling my own writing for my students in this unit.  I showed them how I changed by topic, which I did not plan to do at all.  I also threw my own personal notebook up on the screen to show how I wrote out my ideas at home the night before.  Pretty much every student in each class wrote something.  Some students also asked to take their notebooks home to continue writing their stories outside of class.  I don’t know if I have ever been asked that before.

This first week was exactly what I needed for a reset and recharge.  I look forward to seeing where we will go this week and in the weeks to come.  I hope this positive energy keeps flowing through June.