Friday, August 26, 2011
the main event
That's my 10 year old in Barnes and Noble today, not too old for Knuffle Bunny or a fluffy bow hair clip.
The Main Event of this blog is my teaching life, so you may be happy to hear that I am mostly prepared for September. I learned a few days ago that the remedial ELA course I teach will not be an every other day class, but once every four days, I will teach twice as many students as last year (current count: 165), and I will teach 6th grade in addition to 7th and 8th. So that big news pushed my work brain into high gear, and, regardless of the circumstances of this change, I'm mostly ready!
I'm going to focus on (approximately) monthly topics, starting with literary elements review, followed by a different literary genre each month (short stories, poetry, informational text, editorial/opinion text, drama). Test-taking strategies and practice will precede our state assessment. (When IS the ELA assessment anyway? The state education website is a nightmare to navigate; I can't find the date anywhere, but a friend said mid-April, immediately following spring recess. Of course.)
To help students stay organized in a course that they attend once every four days (i.e. about five times a month), I'm creating study packets for each monthly unit that contain important terms, puzzles for vocabulary practice, spelling, reading practice, and grammar. Classroom instruction will focus on "big ideas" from the unit and hands-on activities to practice substantive knowledge and skills. Each unit concludes with a test that will be the basis for student/teacher conferences and the letter grades I give each report card cycle.
What I'm giving up, at least in the foreseeable future, due to the big changes in my course schedule: helping students with assignments in their "regular" ELA classes. What I don't want to give up: support their independent reading. I have to think about it a lot more, possibly work in my own book talks at the end of every class, or make book review posters for different rooms where I teach. (Yes, I'll be traveling again.)