Sunday, December 14, 2014

5 things I loved about last week

 It's so easy to get overwhelmed and allow a sense of hopelessness take over when you're a teacher. The work just never seems to be finished. So in the spirit of Colby Sharp and Elisabeth Ellington, I'm going to focus on some of the amazing things that happened this past week.

1. Students owning their learning
My 8th graders are writing a reflective essay for their midterms and I'm having them use the comments feature in Google Docs to point out the skill-type things they learned like grammar, 6+1 Traits, etc. and in one period they pointed out to me things they had learned that I forgot to list on the requirements blog post or texts we had shared as a class. Apparently I missed an opportunity to create this assignment collaboratively since they were offering me things that I needed to add to the midterm. Note to self for the final exam.

2. Reading Epiphanies
I am going to pat myself on the back and say that I have been on my game as a writing teacher this year. But because I only teach writing, I haven't done so well motivating my students to read this semester. I want them to see the value of self-selected reading because I firmly believe it makes you a better writer, but having my classroom in a computer lab that is taking up precious bookshelf space (as well as precious space in my students' heads as to what they could be doing once they finish their work), I haven't been able to find a way to make books a part of our daily literacy diet.

Many of my students have said, "If books were actually about things I WANT to read then I would read them." A lot of them think that books aren't written with their issues in mind and clearly I haven't done a good job of communicating that there are lots of books out there for them. So I have decided that over Christmas break, I am going to reorganize my classroom library so that it is more appealing to my mature 8th grade readers. Clearly I am still in my 6th grade mindset and I need to move past that and appeal to my more mature readers.

3. But really, students are begging for books. I just need to pay better attention to their pleas.
To go along with #2, I have also been slacking on my read aloud this year. Students were so involved with NaNoWriMo for the month of November that we didn't read anything at all from Natalie Lloyd's A Snicker of Magic, and as December rolled around, we got busy doing things like preparing for midterms and having frank conversations about race through the lens of what is happening in Ferguson as well as the watermelon joke heard round the world at the National Book Awards that I lost track of our shared reading experience.

But on Friday, through the fervor of working on midterms, I mentioned that next week we would get back into the swing of our read aloud, when an unlikely student, one who rarely speaks and I often question his engagement said, "But you could just read to us for five minutes." Clearly I have been shirking my "literacy is everyone's job" responsibilities this semester.

4. Reason # I've-Lost-Count that I love Literati Bookstore
Last week, Literati posted this picture on their social media sites with the following description:

Since he was accidentally left behind at our store, Teddy has been acclimating to his new life. He alphabetizes books and keeps our typewriter filled with fresh paper. But he's secretly hoping for a holiday miracle to be reunited with his person. He asked me to put up one more post, just in case someone recognizes him.

I mean, how can you NOT want to shop at a bookstore like that?

5. Baby grand pianos have lots of practical uses. A Christmas tree stand, for example.

Is this not the perfect vehicle for a small Christmas tree and a place to put gifts? And I love even more that I don't have to move furniture around.

As you have probably surmised, I am still quite smitten with Tori, the baby grand. I love that now when I come downstairs, this is what greets me instead of a cluttered dining room table.

What did you love about last week? 

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