A New Start
Man! The first month of school just flew by. Actually, it’s kinda crashed and smashed on by. This year feels different from most. And I don’t think it’s the new batch of kids. I have an intern and a very good friend of mine is taking a year off to be with her baby, so things are different.
In good news, we’ve tweaked our activities a bit this year after I read THIS article over the summer. We morphed his idea a bit and we introduced our freshmen to Rhetoric (Ethos, Pathos and Logos) in the reading and writing. It’s tough stuff and some kids are already pros at it and others are still struggling. This week I asked my Honors kids to analyze The Pedestrian, The Obsolete Man (a Twilight Zone Episode (if you haven’t tried incorporating TZ into your classroom you are missing out!)) and an article from my favorite columnist, Leonard Pitts called “Crime isn’t limited to certain aspects of society”. They had to use Ethos, Pathos and Logos and write me a “So What Statement” proving the claim that our place within society defines who we are. And they struggled. They are idealists and don’t want to think that the claim is true. It took a bit for them realize the assignment is not about what they think (they are very good at articulating their own thoughts). I want to know what happens when all three texts are synthesized together. So they jigsawed. They already sit in groups of three (Writing Groups) so they divvied up the texts: one student because an expert in “The Pedestrian” the other on the Pitts article and the third on the Twilight Zone. They met in “expert groups” and together they analyzed the texts. Then went home for the night and wrote an analysis paragraph. The next day in class they jigsawed their analysis paragraphs within their “home groups” and tried to discover something new about the texts once they’ve been synthesized. Many told me they discovered English was hard and gave them headaches! Analysis and synthesis is not easy stuff and I’m proud of their thinking and effort. Their statements are due Monday – I’ll let you know how they turn out. And feel free to email me if you’d like to see the assignment.
Parent night is Thursday and we have 10 minutes with each class (of parents) to explain everything we need/want to. It always takes me 11 minutes (if I don’t breathe). There’s so much information to get across: the thematic quarters, grading policies, whole class novels vs. independent novels, the Writer’s Notebooks, my kick-a$$ website, and my intern…I don’t know what to leave out. Sure, I send home a course prospectus that all parents sign, but they cannot be expected to remember everything from every teacher.
And my goals are due Monday. I’m having a hard time writing them this year. With my intern and the new teacher I’m mentoring, I’m finding it difficult to articulate what I want to improve about my own craft. This is what I have so far for my personal goal:
“I will meet daily with my UNH intern and weekly with (the new teacher). In an effort to enhance the current curriculum and my own teaching craft, I will use these meetings for the following:
- I will keep a log of meetings with the new teacher and what we discuss
- I will work with my intern on enhancing the current curriculum and the method of delivery
- I will journal in my own Writer’s Notebook about ways working with both are enhancing / challenging my own pedagogy
- I will attend the NCTE convention this November and reflect on new ideas or approaches to student learning with the larger community by using Teacher’s Podium.
That’s it for now folks. Thanks for reading and please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if you have any questions or leave comments below.