Well, I survived the first week of the 2015-2016 and I have to admit, I like how I started off the week. How did I start the school year? By dismissing the advice of other teachers and ignored what I have done in previous years: DO NOT START THE YEAR WITH AN ICE BREAKER.
Below are pictures of a newly organized classroom. It felt nice when visiting former students returned to my class and one student said, “Miss, you look a lot more organized this year.”
And I am a lot more organized this year. With taking on one section of teaching Journalism, I need to be just as prepared for my four sections of 9th grade English. So, instead of ice breakers and socialization activities, I went straight to business.
On Monday, I introduced myself, introduced the syllabus, took attendance, and assigned the students their first assignment. Yup. Their first assignment. This was a my way of getting a writing sample from them. I want to assess how the students read questions, respond, and identify their knowledge of punctuation marks.
Section 1: I asked the students 5 simple questions to see if the students can answer the questions in sentences and not in simple word answers.
Section 2: Write a paragraph. I wanted the students to describe an image. This allowed me to assess paragraph writing skills.
Section 3: List 14 punctuation marks used in the grammar of the English language. This question was inspired by this episode of The West Wing. Of course, most students listed no more than six punctuation marks. If time permitted, I showed them the list.
On Tuesday, I reviewed the classroom rules and expectations, updated new students and provided them the syllabus, and did a dictation activity to help me assess their listening and comprehension skills. We had to listen to this YouTube clip twice, reading the paragraph a total of six times.
They did well as expected, but through their response I can see who really struggled and who did not.
By Wednesday my students participated in what will take place every Wednesday: Sustained Silent Reading (SSR). The students did not have their selected reading books (yet) so I provided the students a magazine and at the end of reading, they did an assignment based on the Modern Language Association (MLA) formatting.
Thursday we reviewed what will be taught for the next four weeks: Teens and Technology. I bulk ordered Heads Up: Stop. Think. Connect. which will be our first non-fiction reading text we will use in class as I teach students technology responsibility and socializing online.
By Friday I had the students complete their first 100 point assignment: write a 5 paragraph essay on their Literary Autobiography. Basically, tell me about your life experience with reading and writing. A complete essay will help me assess their essay writing skills. They were give 25-30 minutes. I had a few who managed at least a paragraph, whereas I have one student who did not write a single sentence. Upon contacting the Counseling office we discovered that the student might have been misplaced and may need additional resources.
Of course, I can detail each day a bit more, but chances are you are a teacher and you will understand this: It’s Sunday.
You have to be the kind of person who can make the best out of a Tuesday. You know those people who live for the weekends? They’re wishing their life away. You have to find something worth living for or else you’ll look back and realize you’ve wasted your life away.
“When you feel awful about yourself, the things you’re thinking about yourself are not the real you. Your brain is making you think that, but it’s not real. Write down everything you’re feeling and go back and read it so you can see how insane it sounds. It’s not real. I promise.”
Alright guys, I need MASSIVE amounts of recommendations!
My assistant principal, our professional coach, and I are completely overhauling our English Language Arts curriculum this year and focusing almost entirely on Reader’s Workshop. What this means is students will be allowed to read whatever book they choose from a carefully curated list (new list each thematic unit) and respond to their social studies content and curriculum through the new lens of how the themes have transformed and changed over time, eventually becoming the books in their hands. Meanwhile, in ELA, they will learn the skills to decode, read, and analyze the actual text.
That’s the extra-short of it, but I’m in the process of curating said book lists…right now. I’m perusing Goodreads shelves, “similar to” pages, and Amazon lists, and reading reviews, articles, etc.. BUT I’m so afraid of leaving out something good.
Please, please, please if you can spare a minute, please help me find books that would meet any one of the following thematic criteria:
- How environment affects character development. This can also include survival or man vs. nature stories. - Religious identity (diverse stories, please) - Government (the good, the bad, and the ugly) - Elements of persuasion, including YA memoirs - Stories in which two specific groups are in conflict with one another - Stories in which individuals fight against a society - Stories about WWI or WWII - Stories of or about the Harlem Renaissance and cultural awakening - Stories about the Great Depression - Stories about class struggle - Stories from diverse protagonists that emphasize individual human rights including but not limited to: The Civil Rights Movement, the LGBTQ+ movement, the Trans* rights movement, and Muslim-American rights, Native American rights, etc. - Stories of freedom, either literally or figuratively
Things to keep in mind: - This is a 6th-8th grade audience with reading levels around 2nd-9th grade - YA and middle grades books largely encouraged - Preferably books published within the last ten years
When you message me or reblog this, please let me know which theme or topic your suggestion links too - it will save me a lot of trouble since it’s highly likely I will have not read all of the books suggested.
When you suggest, just think - what would YOU have wanted to read, if you could’ve read anything, in school, when you studied these “big ideas” of humanity?
Thanks, guys. I can already tell you’re going to be lifesavers…again.