Class notes #8 Inventions, Friends & Scary Stories

Students this week wrote about what they’d invent to make the world a better place, about qualities of a good friend, and scary stories. The 7th graders spent a day in the woods, hiking and participating in cooperative games as team building activities. Despite a cold, rainy day, they had a good time out of school and doing something different.

Next week I hope to teach peer editing and conference with students about their stories. They’ll have time to illustrate them if they wish. I made a list of good writing tips for their notebooks; hopefully they’ll keep it as a reference guide.

I’m helping one student with her high school essay application. She’s describing a journey moving from one state to another, one school to another, from living with her father, then mother, now father. She’s  separated from her mother who has stage 4 breast cancer.

Later today the principal sent an email notifying staff that an 8th grader was found with a knife and had threatened another student.

On the outside, they look like normal kids. On the inside, many are facing tremendous challenges.

There are only six class sessions left in quarter. The students will move on to another arts class and I’ll get a new crop of students to get to know.




About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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12 Responses to Class notes #8 Inventions, Friends & Scary Stories

  1. The kids are lucky to have you! Glad it’s going well and that you are giving them your writing expertise and your enthusiasm.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Barbara, the kids are lucky to have you. Have you seen that glint in some of their eyes because they grasp a new concept and are happy how it turns out when they apply it. I like the idea of editing each others’ work. I hope you’re enjoying it too Lisa! ❤
    Diana xo


  3. What an exciting writing exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like all your ideas. So original. I love that you’re coaching the student who will write about her struggles. It’s so true that teenagers sometimes appear happy go lucky on the outside but there’s so much sadness going on in their lives.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. No question about it; all this publicity emboldens extreme behavior, but it has tobe brought out into the open and addressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Golly, life for these students — everywhere, I suppose — isn’t easy these days (if, indeed, it ever was). What challenges you face as a teacher! My daughter-in-law is a teacher, and I hear from her about the families of her first and second graders. No job is more important — or more challenging, I reckon. Your blog is such a good opportunity for us non-teachers to get a tiny peek at what you see and do. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This line pierces my heart — On the outside, they look like normal kids. On the inside, many are facing tremendous challenges.


  8. Nathan N. Parker says:

    Lisa this is terrific work that you are doing with your students. This sentence from your blog resonated with me. “On the outside, they look like normal kids. On the inside, many are facing tremendous challenges.” I recall so clearly students of mine from Orange who had overcome so many obstacles to become successful. I remember one student in particular who reported she was lucky to be the first person in her family to be going to college as she had avoided the “big 4: drugs, pregnancy, jail, and death.” Nathan Parker

    Liked by 1 person

  9. thanks, Nathan. Will talk on Thurs.


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