Saturday, February 7, 2009

Week in Review

It was the first 5-day week in a while, and it was a long one. I'm also house-shopping and have been pretty sick (seem to have kicked it, finally), compounding the length and stress of it all.

Still, it wasn't a bad one. I am running through the second 5-paragraph essay that I have had my 9th graders write this year. I'm holding their hands a little less than last time, and trying to workshop more and more. On Monday, they got their essay topics and were assigned pre-writing. On Tuesday, I arranged the essay topics into three Socratic Seminars, and had the students discuss their pre-writing in these seminars. On, Wednesday, students were required to start a quote bank of possible evidence to use. On Thursday, they had to develop a thesis statement, and, today, we worked on topic sentences. I'm feeling pretty good about it, though I'll flip-flop Wednesday and Thursday next time; it makes more sense for them to develop their thesis before finding possible evidence, I think.

Today was entirely a workshop day, and I spent the class period meeting with students individually. It worked out pretty well, I think. I really value the conversations I have with students about their writing, although the issue of "What do I do with all the other kids?" always rears its head. I opened up the possibilities for them this time, giving them a model essay, the list of required parts of the writing workshop, and told them to work in the order they felt comfortable today. I had them pair up with a student working on the same element as them, to discuss strategies and create their outline. It worked well; even though I was concentrating on the kid I was meeting with, I rarely heard off-topic talk. My principal walked in during one of these class periods, and I hope it looked studious.

With my Juniors, I am working through King Lear with them. It's working well. I've gotten a lot of great ideas from a friend from the Folger (thanks, Scott!), and am incorporating them with my own plans. I really love the Cambridge School edition of the text, and am considering requiring my students to purchase them in the future, as I spend a lot of time taking questions from them. It's very performance-based, which makes me feel like it is what the Folger editions should be. Unfortunately, they're about double the price of the Folger editions.

Anyhow, I'm trying to create a very performance-centered study of the play, and I want to ramp that aspect up a little bit next week. It is a pretty awesome play to teach, that's for sure.

Otherwise, we had a big national visit on Tuesday, something we've been preparing for for years. My role was a lot less than I thought it would be; I was interviewed by the team for about ten minutes, but my class was not visited. I've heard the visit was a success, though our school doesn't find out if we are authorized until the summer.

Baseball is heating up... kids are starting to throw a lot. Hopefully the weather is nice next week so they can get out there. It's frustrating not being able to be involved at all until March, but I'm also savoring the free afternoons until it starts.

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