Two weeks ago, we focused on sequence in reading. One day I had the students unscramble a story and put it in order. They did quite well with that, which was a relief. Another day I read to them from a picture book, Remember the Ladies. They had to take notes on some names and dates, and then I asked them to answer some sequence questions. (Multi-tasking galore in this one! I was really proud!)
On yet another day, I read them another chapter of an interesting book we'd started the week before. I put some events from the book on sentence strips and put them on the board. I gave them a few minutes to organize them in their notebooks. Then I called up six students to take one sentence each, and they put themselves in order. I let the class rearrange the people and their events until all were correct.
Several students left before we finished this activity, for services. A couple minutes later, I got a phone call from one of those teachers. "I have [so] and [so]. They said they wanted to come back to class because you were doing something fun?" I said, surprised, "Oh, well, we finished that one but right now we're doing some magazine work. But sure, they can come back to class if you're okay with it."
We finished up our media unit last week. To combine a group project with a jigsaw review, I had the students create a commercial: I collected a couple random household items (a film canister, a chipclip, a keychain), and let them draw one as well as one of the ad techniques we'd learned. They had to use these things to create a commercial. I gave them a half class period to prepare, and first period, when I let them go, I heard one girl exclaim, "This is gonna be fun!"
The next day they performed the ads, which I recorded with my camera on a tripod. The review part--they were supposed to definite several of the terms, and many of the ads didn't actually use the correct technique--didn't go so well. But they seemed to have a good time, especially when I plugged in the camera to the computer (more than thirty students cannot crowd around a single computer, but at least I'm "using technology"!) and let them watch the movies of themselves. I told them to look at how they did, because we'll be doing more performances later in the year. They laughed and cringed at themselves on camera.
While I will never, ever claim to be a perfect teacher, or even necessarily an exemplary teacher, days and comments like these sure make me feel good about my class. Now if only I could figure out how to work the next two weeks--incorporating some kind of research, reading, writing and of course learning about women's history, plus maybe beginning poetry?--I'd be golden.