I hate it when I have a dumb entry that stays up there a few days. I'm not able to do much more than weekly updates lately, it seems. My days end late with dropping off young people around the city after practice, and I return home after 8pm and deal with the lesson for the next day. Sometimes, I surf over to CraigsList and look at couches for sale, but that's pretty much the extent of my recreation. In short, I'm really tired and looking forward to spring break.
However, things are good. The baseball team has begun 3-0 (2-0 regular, plus a scrimmage). Occasionally I have doubts about keeping a big team, but, on other days, it seems the right thing; today, for example, no outfielders showed up. One kid had to pick up his brother; a couple of kids had coach class and then didn't show up afterwards; another kid didn't give me an explanation; two are mending injuries. It was bizarre that all this only afflicted the outfielders, because the infield was two or three deep at every position.
With the 9th graders, we are at around Chapter 6 of A Lesson Before Dying, and the kids are loving it. It's really a great teach and a nearly perfect book for the 9th grade. Even To Kill a Mockingbird is a little tough for a few students (it's long, there are about 50 characters), but ALBD is accessible enough even for my 4th- and 5th-grade reading level students, but deep and resonating enough for my advanced students. It helps that I really, really love the book.
There's a moment in Chapter 6 when Grant has to decide "whether to act like the teacher that I was or like the n***** I was supposed to be" (Gaines 47). He is about to ask Sam Guidry, the sherriff, permission to visit with Jefferson, the death row inmate. Grant has already demeaned himself by entering the house through the back door, and is already humiliated by the white men making him wait for two-and-a-half hours. He can either act like the ignorant person they want him - as a black man - to be, and get what he wants, or act intelligent, and risk not getting what he wants. One method is an insult to him; one method is an insult to them. We read the passage together today, as Grant decides to use correct subject/verb agreement, as he decides to honestly answer how long he has been waiting, instead of smiling and saying "not long."
Kids got it, and today we're reading the Dunbar poem "We Wear the Mask" and will compare it to that passage, and discuss just how much of a mask Grant is willing to wear.
As for the IB Juniors, we are reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I'm loving it and I saw two Facebook updates from kids in the class saying how much they're liking it, too. They'd better. It's a 600-page beast (the longest novel, by 200 pages, that I've ever taught) and they'll be miserable otherwise for a long time.
2 years ago