Wow, guess I've neglected this for a bit. Oops. Gotten lazy. Big shock, I know.
This last week we've been working on reading H-tchet, which the kids seem to be into. Especially my small class, they go, "Yes!!" when I tell them it's time to get reading. They're making quick progress because they have double periods four times a week. We've discussed point of view, types of conflict (I gave some examples as I went through, and they kept raising their hands to add more examples or ask about examples), setting, and beginnings of plot. Since they've got so much time, I've been having them do some fun writing activities. The other day, they wrote a short letter to Brian about his situation, giving advice and asking questions. I then told them to read their letters to their neighbors, and then the neighbor had to respond to the letter AS Brian. And then switch. I'm not sure they really did much, but it was interesting. Also, we did a fishbowl group discussion and then they did their own. A lot of retelling instead of analysis or connection in most tables, but one table had a great talk, where they mentioned previous events and clues in the story, even referencing the graphics on the cover, making inferences and predictions. I think we'll use some of our extra time to do more of those, and get better at thinking and talking about the book.
In writing, we've been doing four squares. At the end of last week, they began to do one of my favorite activities. I took a bunch of sentences of a four square and wrote them on the erasable sentence strips, then posted them out of order. The groups had to analyze and synthesize the sentences to group them into appropriate topics and fill in the four square. Overall, it went better than last year; just about all the groups successfully found the thesis within the first five or ten minutes.
This week, once we finished putting one together, we began writing our own. I modeled a complete four square based on my Australia trip, and they began writing their own summer four squares. Some kids are great and already half done with the essay, while others still haven't correctly began the four square. I'm still able to circulate pretty well, but I don't have much time because I've got to keep moving around. So there are a couple kids that I keep asking to come at lunch or after school, but they haven't yet.
Speaking of after school, this week my new program kicked off. The ymc* doesn't do a program in our school anymore, so I started a homework center for our grade. It's two days a week, open to whoever wants to come. I'm even offering make up credit for homework zeroes. Fortunately, another teacher is supervising with me, and this week only her students showed up. But we got to help with several subjects of work, and it's nice working with kids in such a small group.
On Thursday, after I helped them understand and complete their complete/simple subjects worksheet, the kids turned to their science homework. It was questions about mass and volume and calculating density.
I asked them, "Where's your density formula?"
They looked up at me, wide eyed. "You know science too?!"
I replied, "I know *everything.*"
"Are you an eighth grade teacher?" they asked.
"No, I just know everything."
Heh. I amuse myself. Also, I think most kids don't see many teachers talking about other subjects. I remember a couple years ago, when the entire staff had to do after school work in math, most of them were like, "eh! I don't know math! so I'm not helping them!" and further, didn't seem to care. I hadn't divided fractions in easily ten years, but glancing at the workbooks, it came back to me and I was able to help the students.
And maybe I'm a hippie liberal freak, but I did go to a liberal arts school, where everyone was required to take many different courses to become well-rounded. And I took full advantage of that and at least some of that information is still lodged in my dusty attic of a brain, so I like being a good example to the kids and being able to converse in all subjects.
(Except, apparently, the Civil War. I swear, none of my social studies classes covered that when I was in school. So when one of my former students IMed me to ask if Ulysses Grant was for the North or South, I was like, umm....I'm supposed to know that, right? But I totally didn't. Bad job, me. I should do some reading and catch up on those kinds of details. I do know the big points though.)
Guess what? My birthday is in less than three weeks! Get ready to party!
Sorry this post was so rambly and random...I've been coming down with a sinus cold thing. I can use that as an excuse, right?