Friday, October 03, 2014

What's Going on in 205

I can hardly believe it's already mid quarter.  How times flies.

Now that I have fourth block prep, it feels like by the time I take my first deep breath, it's already 1:30.

But it makes for a great way to spend my days and earn a living.

Here is what we're up to in 205 so far

Lit & Lang 9R

We've knocked the elements of plot out of the park.  Doesn't sound ground shaking does it? Yet, if you look at our test scores, the lit basics are where we really lack.  So they have their elements of plot down cold.

We have also examined point of view and irony and setting.

Recently, we've been tackling theme.  That just leaves symbolism before we are done with our short story unit.

Early in the week we read one of my favorite short stories, Amy Tan's "Two Kinds."  It's a bit dry for freshmen, but I worked hard to connect it to their lives and the rites of passage they have gone through. So we talked about the theme of rites of passage.

To help drive that point home, we watched The Sandlot yesterday and today.  On Monday we will write personal narratives in which we explore an example of a rite of passage evident in the film (such as overcoming a childhood legend (such as The Beast in the film), trying something dangerous for the first time (such as Squints' foolish stunt with the life guard, Wendy Peppercorn or the boys' foolish decision to try chewing tobacco after a big win . . . and then go on a fair ride), or fitting in with a group (such as when Smalls is finally able to become part of the Sandlot crew).

We have also been working on basic reading skills such as main idea, vocal, and facts.  Not thrilling stuff, but the students are in this class because they struggle with reading skills.  But I made the students a promise on the first day of class . . . yes, we will improve their low reading skills but this will also be the most entertaining and engaging English class they have ever had.  So I'm not going to beat them to death with basic skills work as I've been guilty of doing with other Lit & Lang 9R classes.

In College Comp, students have been reading Sir Ken Robinson's The Element and exploring the importance of creativity and finding their passions.  This will lead into their fourth theme, which is a braided essay on one of their passions.

We are also starting our third theme, a how to essay.  Here will be three rough drafts for this one - 3.1 how to improve LHS. 3.2 how to survive college.  3.3 a how to of their choice.

On Wednesday, we had Mr. Zutz come in to talk about not only finding your passion but also on how we have improved LHS over the years.

On Thursday I had one of the best conversations with my classes all year.  I had them devise a list of 10 things their teachers should unlearn (this is based off a blog post I found somewhere on line a few years ago).  Then I showed them a list of 10 things their teachers thought they - as students - should unlearn.  Man, that was one of the best discussions I've had in class in a long, long while.

In College Comp 2, students have wrapped up their Sticky-Note Book Reports.  They spent most of last week reading in my room or the commons or the media center.  I chose that week for a free reading week since it was homecoming and I wasn't going to get a whole lot out of them anyway.  Might as well give them time to read.

Some students read the book in two days.  Others finished it the night (maybe even the morning) before it was due.

Then we spent Monday and Tuesday and part of Wednesday giving 10 minute book talks on their books.  Some were okay.  Most were really good.  And three were some of the best I've ever had.  As their final assignment for the Sticky-Note Book Report, on Wednesday students submitted a hyper-text essay based on one topic or aspect of their book.  I can't wait to read these this weekend.

Up next, our definition essay.  We spent Thursday discussing the (in)famous article from the Washington Post, Pearls Before Breakfast.  I use that article as an intro to discussing (and defining) beauty.  That led to a great discussion on beauty.

Then today, since I was home with Kenz who had a fever yesterday, I had my students do a beauty scavenger hunt.  They'll put their final results on a blog or slideshow and share that with me next week.

Our next word to define - "millennial."  This led me to sharing the 10 things their teachers thought they should unlearn as millennials.  Again, it was a very rich and rewarding discussion.

Finally, in my Teaching and Learning 250 class at UND I had my students turn in their philosophy of education papers.

I am almost ashamed to assign this paper, for I had to do one when I was in my first year in the education major at BSU.  It's not that I think it isn't rewarding.  It's that I know how much that philosophy will change.

But I guess we have to start somewhere.

Then I showed students a variety of sites and apps to help make learning more engaging.  Then I had them choose a lesson that they are anxious to teach.  Then they had to create an activity related to that lesson using one of the sites or apps I showed them to make the learning more engaging.

Up next: lesson planning.

That's a might fine way to earn a living if you ask me.


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