Sunday, September 17, 2006

Another week is about to begin.

All last week I could not sleep enough. I was certainly relieved to be sleeping at all. But feeling extra drowsy at nine pm is, to say the least, not hot. Each night I got at least eight hours of sleep, but it was never enough.

Perhaps that is why last night I conked out at 9.30. On a Saturday night. Without even meaning to. And didn't wake up til after 8.30 this morning.

Hm.

It's not surprising, I suppose. My days have been crazy. Both Thursday and Friday were non-stop teaching, grading, meeting, or book room. I spent an hour to an hour and a half in there each day, sweating, sneezing, getting dirty, and making progress. Then taking my disheveled self back to a room with other normal humans and trying to get back into a teacher frame of mind. Argh.

Here are some updated pictures!

You can actually walk in the shelf aisles now! Two of the four of them, actually. And look at the piles--they are progressing and showing a modicum of improving organization. Below, the far end of the showerhead room, which until last week was buried under piles of math books. Now it's just buried under dust, dirt and random texts. Definitely an improvement.
On Friday, we continued our journey with nouns. The Warm Up asked the students about these terms: singular, plural, common, proper. Many of the kids went straight for the dictionaries, which probably didn't help much. But it was great that they had a resource to consult and knew how to.

I began by asking if anyone knew what these words were about. In the first two classes, one or more kids knew they were types of nouns. My last class, no such luck.

The night before, while trying to fall asleep, I had a most excellent idea, if I do say so myself. The last two years, all the students didn't seem to fully understand that each noun falls in TWO categories. So my tired mind came up with a great strategy: making a table. Here's a sample I made for you:

For the kids, I drew a blank table and put in the terms. Together I guided them in defining each. Singular and plural were easy, and two of the classes had at least heard of proper nouns. Again, last class? Not a one. For all, I probably gave them the definition for common noun.

I asked a student for a noun. Let's say they said 'house.' I started on the left rows: is it one thing, or more than one? One. Okay, it's a singular noun. Now, is it a general thing, or one specific thing with a name? A general thing. So it's a singular, common noun! And we put it in the appropriate box.

We continued until we had several in each box. I asked if they were understanding, for questions, if they got that each noun must have two categories. They seemed to get it! I'm proud of myself.

On Monday, I'm going to give each table a bunch of nouns. On the board will be a large blank noun table. I was thinking about putting the nouns on index cards, and the kids could stick up the cards in the right box, but I don't have any index cards. So I think I'll put up sentence strips in each box, and the kids will get to write with a white-board marker on the sentence strip. They get a kick out of that anyway. So I'll give them all a couple minutes to decide where each of their nouns will go, and then call up one table at a time. I'll have the rest of the class watch, and agree or disagree with the classifications.

Tuesday, I think I'll give a quiz. I shall just tell them to draw a large noun table, and give them a list of nouns that they must classify. I'd give them copies of a quiz, but we are going into week THREE without our own copier to use. So they'll have to write it themselves. I think it will be a very authentic assessment, since it will be just like the activities we'll have done. It should be a good grade to start the kids' test scores this year, and hopefully encourage them to continue paying attention and showing them that they can achieve success.

This week we're going to start getting into the Sourcebook (what Ralph Fletcher calls the Writer's Notebook). I introduced it on Friday, and this weekend they were supposed to continue their list of brainstormed topics, and complete a page of writing on one of their topics. Monday or Tuesday, I'm going to do the memory map lesson that Nancy wrote up so well. Nancy, let us know how your follow-up lessons have gone with that!

So far, it's only been two days of teaching. I think the year is getting off to a decent start. I need to stay on them about the chatter and noise. I must get tougher about taking class points quicker. I must keep up the parent phone calls...I made a bunch last Sunday, and a few more in the middle of last week. I fully meant to make a bunch more today, but I'm not in the mood, and my throat is getting scratchy.

Tomorrow is Monday again. Time to gear up! ...as soon as I lay down and read a whole chicklit book while listening to Fiona Apple.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I'm definintely trying that noun table thing! Thanks!