July 8, 2016
I finally felt inspired to decorate my classroom, so I’ve spent several days taking down old bulletin boards & posters, updating reference posters, and making tissue paper flowers.
I just have to paper over this orange cupboard (with black construction paper), and maybe add a turquoise or pink polkadot border to it.
June 8, 2016
Greasers and Socs together!
June 2, 2016
Hard to believe we are down to the final two weeks of classes. This year has just flown by incredibly quickly.
Saving one of the best novels for last, my English 8s are wrapping up The Outsiders. I love reading the final chapters aloud because the students’ reactions to the final lines of the novel are priceless. You can see the lightbulbs going off. Today, students were randomly placed into groups, and each group had 15 minutes to create and perform a major scene from the novel. One student said my course was his favourite class.
My English 10s and 12s are in exam prep mode. The provincial exams for English Language Arts will happen in a couple weeks, so I’ve been spending class time having them work on old exams, to get a sense of how quickly the minutes can tick by, and to practice and apply test taking strategies. Not the most exciting classes, but it can’t hurt them to be prepared.
My 12s are feeling bittersweet about the end of school. Just like the main character in Paper Towns, students are realizing that these next weeks will bring forth some of the “last times” of their high school careers. After this month, they may never see some faces ever again, which is a strange thought, considering they’ve spent nearly everyday together for the past five years. At the same time, they are burnt-out and stressed from year-end projects and tests, and university/college acceptance/rejection decisions, and summer break can’t come soon enough.
I’ve already started my unit planning for next school year and am excited by one thematic unit that’ll make connections with a couple of movies, a few new (to me) short stories, and one controversial novel.
May 3, 2016
English 12s: The classes today inspired me to write this update. The latest assignment was to come up with a Top 10 list of things students will remember from high school, with details and reasons why.
I also added a presentation of their list as part of this assignment, but the presentation would not be marked. Only the written portion would actually be graded. I was so impressed when the majority presented beautifully edited videos of their list, complete with photos, video clips and even voice-overs. They spent hours on their presentation because they wanted to share these memories with their friends and classmates, and it didn’t matter that they wouldn’t get a grade.
I’m so proud of how these grade 12s have proven they are not motivated by grades, that they wanted to spend the time to work on a multimedia presentation, and that thinking about their list was meaningful enough to document. In the real world, no one is going to give us As for our daily efforts, so that internal motivation becomes even more important.
English 10s: An act a week of Romeo and Juliet makes the play zip by pretty quickly. During Act 2, I had students write a summary of each scene using only lines of dialogue. I wasn’t sure how much they’d be able to comprehend, but they were totally fine. We’ve been using decades-old tattered school copies of the play. Coles Notes probably isn’t even in business anymore.
English 8s: We are on the final chapters of Thief of Always, and I’m still hoping to squeeze in The Outsiders before the end of the year because Stay gold, Ponyboy. The students have noticeably matured throughout the year, too. Just a touch more self-regulation, though there were a few weeks where I was collecting cellphones in a basket at the start of class.
January 26, 2016
I’m one of those teachers who prefers to teach new novels every year or two, so this year, I’m adding Paper Towns by John Green to the mix for my English 12 classes.
We’ve already looked at The Great Gatsby and Hamlet, so I figured it was time to move the timeline up to present-day. Specifically, the teenaged-view of the present and future.
Below is a link to the unit overview (I create one of these for each novel study).
Paper Towns Unit Overview
In other news…
My Grade 8 Calligraphy Club is going strong. We’re using old-fashioned dip pens and India Ink to practice our calligraphy at lunch. (A benefit is that students are off-line for those 30 minutes, and doing something hands-on and right-brained.)
Just finished reading Every Day by David Levithan. It was a recommendation from a grade 10 student in Book Club because we read Boy Meets Boy by the same author a couple months ago. I finished it within days. Would love for Levithan to continue the story in a sequel.
Will be watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens in a few weeks. I’ll probably be the only person in the theatre, since I’m also probably the last person on earth who hasn’t seen it yet.
My toddler daughter’s obsession with Frozen has waned ever so slightly. She’s now moved on to Minnie Mouse.
October 3, 2015
Currently reading: The Thief of Always by Clive Barker
Listening to: Arthur and Friends CD, Frozen soundtrack, Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin
Watched/watching: Mad Max Fury Road, The Kingsmen: Secret Service, The Great Gatsby (newer version)
Did not finish: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
Enjoying: being back in the classroom, seeing the start of a student-led Book Club
Using up a lot of energy on: classroom management of my English 8 class. Seven new students added about a week ago, which have completely changed the dynamics I have built up during September. Sigh. Back to the beginning in terms of teaching high school routines and expectations again.
September 11, 2015
First week back–full-time for me this year–and although the mornings were really hectic, it’s been great being back. I’ve seen lots of energy and enthusiasm in the halls and classrooms. Days are busy for me, but I love being back in the classroom. I’ll try to update this blog a few times this semester — I have a couple of new projects and novels to present to students this year that I’ll describe in more detail as the term progresses.