Somewhere in my first semester of teaching, a colleague remarked that there’s a big difference between first semester freshmen and second semester freshmen. I tried not to think too much about her comment as there wasn’t anything I could do about it — I just tried to enjoy the ninth graders I had as they figured out their place in high school.
Very early in the new semester, however, I learned just how right she was. Students were chatty and fought me every step of the way of trying to work toward a more respectful, thoughtful classroom. Our school behaviorist came and observed the class a few times and suggested a few modifications that helped (weekly community meetings and a reward system among others). When we returned from spring break, however, a few students became completely divested from our big goal of showing respect. After one particularly trying community meeting where they made it clear that my expectations of no talking over top of others and kindness were just too much to expect, I wrote the following letter to share during the next free write: Read More
Students learn more about Mitosis through the reading of an article about caffeine possible being able to cure cancer.
Language and culture are inextricably linked; they are bound up in personal and national identity. The emotional import of language is undeniable.
Earlier this week, a student asked me if the final project can include a movie or a play, and I told him I would think about how we can include that option in the final project. After musing upon it, I decided that it might be a good idea to work with the class to design a project. This way, their voices will be heard and they will be given the options that they want—not just ones that I imagine would be good for them.
Kids explore the ongoing debate about bottled and tap water by reading a text introducing the topic. After reading, the students stage their own debate. Chemistry is incorporated to inform the debate.
Students bring in their finished personal narratives and we share them by gathering in circles, turning off the lights, and using flashlights to illuminate our work.
Poetry Circles--much like the more familiar Literature Circles--give students a choice about which poems they examine in greater depth while allowing the teacher to present more poems in general. After all, there are so many great poems out there, how can you pick just one?!
I Am poetry segues nicely with personal narratives, allowing students to apply the same concepts--facts or stories about myself--to a new genre: Poetry.