Saturday, September 30, 2006

Wow.

For several reasons:

--I fell asleep at 10.15 last night, and woke up just before 9am. Ahhh, rest.

--This weekend marks six months with the Very Special Someone. More on that later, including cute pictures!

--Yesterday in class, we finished our work with the crest essay. Their assignment the night before was to finish the first draft of putting their squares into paragraphs. Two of the classes had half an hour in class to work on it, so it wasn't too much to ask. One class had one hundred percent homework--everyone had their draft!

--A handful of kids in each class had not actually finished their drafts (I know that sounds like a direct contradiction of what I just said, but I still counted it because they all had work in front of them, which is a huge step), so I told them they could not take part in our activity, since they had to work on their drafts. By god, they all did. They worked quietly and independently while the rest of the class was doing stuff around them. Wow.

--I had them do some quick round-robin editing and revision. First we reviewed what each means, and what things to look for. T
hen I had them pass their papers to the right one time. First they looked for capitals.
Pass it again. Look for punctuation.
Pass again. Look for spelling.
Pass again. Look for grammar (skipped words, agreement, plurals, etc).
Pass again. Now revision: pretend you're me. What am I always saying to add? Details!" (Sweet, they already know this, after only two weeks of writing! Maybe soon it will actually sink in!) So look through the paper in front of you and see where the writer could add more detail and explanation.
In the next ten seconds, get your paper back. (Eek, chaos! But I limit it to a very short amount of time, and the kids can calm themselves as I keep counting down. Hurrah!) Now to the last question of revision: How can I make it sound more interesting? Eventually I got them to see 'sensory details'. We briefly reviewed the senses and I tried to get them to give examples of using them in sentences. Meh, it was just a start. We'll see what happens.

In any case, I was happy with the activity. I think the moving of papers made it a little more fun, and I think it's a good idea to separate out the things to look for, at least at first. All I wanted them to do was get a taste of editing and revision, and I think it worked out very well.

--There's this boy in my middle class that I'm having a hard time with, but not for the normal reasons. He seems to be attentive in class. He got the only 100% on the first noun quiz in his class. The math teacher says he does really well in math. So obviously he's intelligent. But he never does any homework in EL @. And rarely, if ever, does any classwork. It's so frustrating! I've pulled him aside to talk to him, I've sat with him to get him started with writing. Even coming up with a brainstormed list of possible topics was worse than pulling teeth. Not necessarily because he was being passive or resistant; it seemed beyond him. He seems to need a lot of time to process. There's a significant lag time between a question I ask and his reply. He's super calm and sometimes pulls that extra-blank face, when I ask why his homework isn't done. GRR! That is definitely my biggest pet peeve.

Anyway, so every time I see him, I try to encourage him and show that I'm not giving up on him. Tentatively, things seem to be getting better. The other day in class, he wrote an entire paragraph. Not the whole page that everyone else was able to do, but it was a huge improvement for him. I praised him and told him to keep up the good work. Yesterday while the editing madness was going on, he wrote at least one more full paragraph. Hurrah! Big progress. I caught him on the way out, and he told me that yes, he would finish and type it this weekend. Cross your fingers!

--In an hour and a half, I will be taking the ATS-W. Please cross your fingers and think good thoughts for me!

2 comments:

Miss Browneyedgirlie said...

Lots of good luck wishes for the test. I'll be taking Foundations of Reading in November - the final roadblock to licensure.

Thank goodness.

Nicole said...

It looks like you are having a lot of success with writing with your students. That's great! I am impressed that most/all of them are doing the writing for homework, and they seem to know some of the qualities of good writing already. Fabulous!

I like your idea of editing/revising for specific things. I may try that with my students this week, when they bring in the first drafts of their essays.

Let us know how that one student is doing. I wonder if he has some kind of learning disability when it comes to language skills. It doesn't sound like he's trying to be a pain, although I can imagine that he can be frustrating.