It was a better week all around. The midpoint of the quarter is approaching in another week and every student receives a progress report with comments. So some are becoming mindful about accountability and focusing a bit more. The disciplinary dean follows up immediately when I email him and he assigns detention as needed. I’ve become better with the technology, both in the classroom using the smart board and also with the merit/demerit system. And the lessons are flowing more smoothly as I figure out what the students need, want, and can accomplish in the time period.
Having spent most my teaching career with 8th graders, I am amazed at how less mature the 7th graders are. What a difference a year makes. The 8th graders are striving to apply to preparatory and parochial schools, some boarding out of state.
I met with the instructional coach who gave me a couple classroom management tips that I tried the next day. Simple things like putting the start and end times on the board when giving a timed writing and walking around with the behavior tracking clipboard and using it. Consistency is key, similar to raising kids!
The 8th graders continue to complain (and of course that’s age appropriate) about content and that the class is too much like their regular English/Language Arts class. So I added a little more fun—alliteration stories and inventing new cereals and writing advertising jingles. Always open to ideas—please share!
We looked at a couple odes by Pablo Neruda, some student models, and students wrote their own on subjects ranging from pizza to the color turquoise. In their daily “do nows” they wrote about a time they were angry and their most embarrassing moments. The 8th grade girls were gone half the week on a school-sponsored camping trip so I encouraged the boys to catch up on missing assignments and we also did some round robin writing where I put a story starter on a sheet of paper and they passed it around, adding a sentence of their own. They enjoyed the activity and the stories were fun to hear. The challenge is to find ways for them to chat quietly that also keeps them on task.
The 7th graders are writing superhero stories, having created a superhero by writing their first name backwards. We’re having fun filling in character charts with all the gadgets, vehicles, clothes and aliases of the superheroes. I gave the 8th graders a fan fiction assignment where they take a character from a favorite book and extend the story as a prequel, sequel or even add a middle chapter. Some however are choosing instead to write a science fiction or horror story for a writing contest I found. A prize provides motivation much more than a grade!