I’m getting to know the kids and enjoying the vagaries of middle schoolers’ moods. One minute, happy and focused; the next ornery and distracted. And every emotional state in-between. It can be frustrating at times.
The 8th graders tap their pens non-stop. So I allow them one minute before we start class to tap loud and fast. They don’t let me forget and the activity has developed into a rhythmic beat, amazing really to watch.
Then they write their “Do Now” for 10 minutes based on a prompt. Some eagerly share, others snap their notebooks closed. Writing about a favorite food, one boy noted he loved pizza because it’s cut into triangles and he loves triangles. Writing about meeting someone from the past, a girl wrote she’d want to meet her dad. One sentence. They wrote about conflicts with parents and imitated prose poems—longer poems that look like prose paragraphs that employ elements of poetry like figurative language. The exercise creates some powerful writing.
The boys were camping this week so I had the girls only for two days. It provided a nice opportunity to chat with them individually about the schools they plan to apply to. Most want to attend private schools, some boarding, and others apply to local parochial and public magnet high schools. They all hope to receive scholarships from various foundations.
Still the many rules and obsession with some things bothers me. One 7th grade boy was yelled at for not wearing a belt, a required part of the school uniform, in front of the class. Certainly someone could have whispered to him to try to remember?
I tried my own prose poem:
I walk through the alley to the school, past a playground littered with trash and broken glass. A few men loiter at 10 am, smoking and drinking from bottles wrapped in brown paper bags. The swings and basketball court, lonely and vacant, call to the students to fill the space with laughter, jump rope, and run.
After school this week, I rode my bike through the Great Swamp and stopped to watch the swans gliding carefree, diving for fish, and admiring their images in the water.