October 29, 2007

Game On!

Beginning of the 2nd quarter. Lesson plans in on time. Quarter project information delivered to my students. A plan in place...for the most part.

November is going to be exasperating. We begin the month with two day of testing. During one day in the second week, our team will be out of the classroom to participate in a special event sponsored by the social studies teacher. The third week will begin on Wednesday, as we all take Veteran's Day off, and then the student get to enjoy an additional day while we teachers have an in-service day. The following week is, of course, Thanksgiving. Oh poo! I just remembered that the English department has planned a mock writing proficiency exam that week--you know because it's such a difficult week to count on students showing up anyway. Finally, at the end of the month, I'll get a full week of instruction.

So what are we doing? Writing and reading My students will be writing a book this quarter in the spirit The House on Mango Street. Basically, it will be a book of vignettes about their own lives. I tried to convince them that it wouldn't be so painful because each piece of writing will start in their writer's notebooks, which is something my students are accustomed to anyway. They just aren't used to having to polish every piece they write in their notebooks.

I'm also going to introduce writing response groups into my classroom this month. I had been spoiled the last few years because the 7th grade teacher trained them on the protocol, which she modified from our work in the Southern Nevada Writing Project, so I was able to jump right into using response groups without much modeling. The students I have this year had a different teacher last year, so I will need to establish the protocol. I'm a little rusty at it, and I am sure I'll forget some important points that I'll need to make it run more smoothly, but it will be well worth it when we get going. (I keep telling the students that, too. They are skeptical of permanent response groups.)

Although I'm not ready to present it to my students yet, I am raising the bar on their reading goals this quarter. I'm still irritated that some of them chose not to do any reading at all last quarter. (Some of them appeared to be reading, but I believe they did not follow through and actually finish anything--in 6 weeks!) I spent some time collaborating with the librarian today, and she helped me firm up some ideas on some specific reading tasks I'm going to ask my students to complete this quarter. Of course, these reading tasks aren't just reading...there will be thinking and writing, too.

Reading, thinking, and writing. That's right, students. This isn't cushy first quarter, anymore. Game on.

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