As always, today was a mix of good and bad. I'm continuing to work on my calmer but still strict demeanor; it's going well.
This week the kids started reading their LC books. The two not-so-high classes have been actually listening and reading along, and that part is going well. As of today, they've learned all the roles they're to use in the circles, starting maybe next week.
For warm ups, we've been doing clause work, and it's gone swimmingly! I gave a quiz on Wednesday, and the scores were not terrible, but not great either. So, yesterday we did another pretend quiz, and I returned their real quizzes. They needed to figure out what they got wrong and correct it. They did that very well! if a bit noisily. Then today I gave them another quiz. I've only graded the high class so far, but the majority of scores were 100%!! Most excellent.
So that's all that's been going on in class this week. Sentence work, and reading. Sweet. Nice and simple, and effective.
But I felt a little lazy and guilty, and plus I wanted to get the students involved a bit more and make sure they're thinking and understanding. So we made character maps in class today, together.
For L!dd!e (and by the way, the authors and titles were assigned to us; we only got to choose from there), we discussed her traits and her situations, the important people in her life and how she relates to them. There was some great discussion and understanding of her personality and motives! And for Br!dge, we did two maps. One of J#ss and his traits, which they got pretty easily, and then one for his relationships.
I felt really good about these discussions; it made me feel like a real English teacher like not many things do. I felt good because the students were right there with me; I was leading them a bit, but I wasn't telling them anything. They came up with the ideas just like I hoped they would. I was proud of them for paying attention and being able to verbalize these characters.
And, I'm excited to have some valuable charts to hang up. I know that sounds really silly, but for one, I haven't put anything on the walls since January, so things are bleak. Additionally, I think it will be a good resource for the kids as they read. I made sure to tell them that the reason we were doing this was to get in the character's head and see their world at the beginning of the story, so that we can see and understand their journey as the story continues. So it's my hope that they and I can refer back to this information in a positive and useful manner.
I want to add that Nancy's thoughtful posts, especially the ones where she includes her charts and maps, have definitely inspired me. I like the way that she leads the students to understanding things in a deeper way, and I know that my kids, at a low level in only sixth grade, will really need these skills now and later. So thanks for your hard work, and keep it up!
One other good thing abou today: a good seventh-grade coverage! They read a play from a Scholastic magazine, and we reviewed some grammar. They were a little chatty but good-hearting and fairly hard-working. I had a good time. Shocking!
Now for the bad: both my not-high-level classes are misbehaving. A good portion of each still does an excellent job, but the bad ones are infecting the fence-sitters (you know, the kids that can go either way). The middle class, which I have now dubbed the Hydras (I hope you get the reference), I have for one period on Fridays and usually they're not bad. Today, with a quiz and then more notes, and with the AP in the room for most of it, were very quiet. Within two minutes of her departure, however, paper began flying. Goddammit. And then I don't know what's going on with the afternoon class. So much noise! Two kids were being really disruptive, but that wasn't explaining all of it. I couldn't tell, but I was certainly very frustrated, and so were some of the good kids. Poor kids.
Ack, argh, bah. The good discussion that some of us were having was really affected by the noise. I had to stop so often to count down and/or wait for quiet. Which only lasted for a minute or two before starting up again. I kept them after school for a couple minutes, for the second day in a row. Grr!
Anyway. There was some good work done by some students. I suppose I should focus on that, because nothing I'm doing is really working to prevent or treat the problems in the class. Which makes me feel very ineffective and extremely frustrated, and like I'm letting down the good kids. I had hoped that that feeling would finish with my first year. So maybe I'm not so great like I thought I was. Ack!
It's Friday! There's a blogger event tomorrow evening in Manhattan. Please join us!