You see, I noticed this when I read WITH my students:
1. I read along with them so I can help pronounce words.
2. While reading, sometimes the students will distract other students while my head is in the book.
3. Students will hide their cell phones in their books.
Then I figured there is an advantage to playing the audio version of a book in class and have the students read along:
1. It puts all students at the same reading pace as others.
2. The pace of the reader is perfect.
3. I get observe my students and monitor their behavior.
The third one is key because today, today I scored:
My sixth period is sneaky, but thankfully, they did not argue with me when I simply reached out my hand to the three students who tried to use their electronic devices when they were suppose to be reading along with the audio in class.
And, without looking at the student, I reached out my hand to the student who was sharing clay in class. He was throwing pieces of clay. I simply walked up to him and had him place the clay in my hands.
And I held out my hand until every chunk was placed in my palm.
Well my hand was reached out like that, but my facial expression and my mentality was very similar.
Some teachers would immediately write a referral for the student, but I do not do that unless I have given a verbal warning. I may find other culprits doing the same tomorrow in other class periods.
Looks like I will be doing more observing tomorrow.
In my previous post I decided to differentiate my To Kill a Mockingbird (TKAM) lesson for the 8 out of 185 students who claim to have read the book two or three times.
In speaking with our Department Chair, he suggested the students read TKAM again because, like anyone else, we would find ourselves finding new information and new perspectives.
I told my students who already read the book that they will be reading the book again.
I do not recall mentioning how I have this ONE student in the previous post, but this ONE student (very intelligent, opinionated, and stubborn) outwardly told other students that the book would be boring and how she did not want to read the book…again.
This, of course, turned some students off and when I informed her that should would be reading the book, she huffed and puffed.
And so, I presented my lesson (along with a 40 page packet requiring the students to write and discuss) and we read Chapter one today.
At the end of our reading, she raised her hand and I prepared for what I assumed would be her complaining.
She proceeded to inform me that she had read 1/2 the book in 6th grade, focused on theme, symbolism, historical information in 7th grade, and then read the second 1/2 of the book in 8th grade.
9th grade she is with me…
STUDENT:…but I was never asked to do THIS.
STUDENT: Reflect? I mean, Miss, you are asking me to think about this chapter. I don’t know, I mean… (and she proceeded to tell me what she thought about Scout and Scout’s relationship with her brother, how kids are curious, and so on…)
ME: See. So you DO know how to do that?
STUDENT: What? Reflect?
ME: Exactly. (taps her paper with my finger)
STUDENT: Ohhhhh yeah… (proceeds to write)
ME: (walk away)
I am glad I took the advice of others and not differentiate from the lesson. I hope the rest of this month goes well.
As we get closer to the end of the school-year, I decided that my last assignment for my students will include the reading of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
I have not given my students any homework up until now and though they are not happy with my decision, they understand (at least under their sighs and behind their rolling of their eyes) that it is necessary to finish the book before the end of the semester. I planned it so that we can still be flexible with some time to spare. There is not much room for discussion, and they have a packet to complete, but it is my hope that they engage in the story as much as I did in high school.
And, based on my previous experience when I last taught them something I loved - Romeo and Juliet - that this time it is less of me talking and more of them talking.
Plus, I have laid out my lesson so that they may go ahead in the lesson or stay at the same pace as the class so that no one is left behind.
But…I did run into a conflict. Among my 185 students, I have perhaps eight students who claim to have already read the book. At first I thought…
But in further speaking with a few of those students and questioning them on what they knew of the story, I found myself engaging in a moment like this:
I do not want to put them through another reading of To Kill a Mockingbird, though I personally think it might benefit them, but I also thought this would be a good time to engage them in a lesson similar to what we are reading and doing in class.
I decided to allow these students to find a book of their own, one that covers the Great Depression, Jim Crow laws, racism in the 1930s, segregation in the 1930s, or literature that was reflective of Harper Lee. In addition, the reading itself must be 250 pages or more to be somewhat close the 300+ pages the students will be reading in To Kill a Mockingbird.
There are other requirements I would give these students, and they would still need to participate in other classroom activities I had planned in class, only adapting the lesson to cater to their selected reading, and so on.
I hope it works out. We begin reading To Kill a Mockingbird this week, and I just reviewed the Great Depression with the students. Tomorrow we will cover some areas of Jim Crow laws and Plessy vs. Ferguson. Anything relative to the book, but not directly requiring the book, these students will have to participate in.
Maybe it is more work for me, but I think it would benefit these students at a higher degree.
Today my students took the State Test in Language Arts.
It was my first-time to administer a test.
It is also the day a student accused me of not teaching them the material on the test.
It was also the day a student came into my defense stating that if they only paid attention in class students would have actually learned something.
It was also the day I met with a teacher who can sympathize with my trials and errors.
And the day when a teacher came into my class and was impressed with what it looked like.
It was just that kind of day.
Our students go into the California Standards Tests (CST) this week. I will only be testing my first period and my other class periods will be testing with their first periods for about 8 days.
After testing, the students return to their other class periods in which I was told to “not start a new lesson” and to “review some material” and to do some “light teaching”. Oh, if only there was ever a term as “light teaching” to exist.
I can not review much with them because I, unfortunately, had not taught material that would have prepared them for this test and therefore there is technically not much I can review. And, this is the first-time I would be teaching during a testing period (I’m a Sub, remember? We normally do not get hired during this time) so anything I would select as review would most likely be a new lesson to my students.
No teacher or administration has given me any real material or lesson to teach during this time so I would like to gather some ideas from you, my fellow educators in the world of Tumblr.
Worksheets, puzzles, rotating learning stations, view and answer questions to “Dead Poet’s Society” are just some of my ideas. So…
QUESTION: What shall I teach during testing?
Advice? Just breathe…and write. You’re a writer, and this experience will be one to learn from. You are impacting lives, even for a short while, so live and learn and tell your students that after high school, they will do just that. Getting choked up is what happens to all of us, credentials and non-credentialed educators alike. You’re not on this boat alone, so I say seek the opinions and thoughts of a neighbor teacher or administration. They may some of the students better than you and may help you understand a few of the students here and there. Lose your job? I would not worry about that. Schools need Subs, and the students need you.
Eversince the Weed Incident of 2013 happened, I felt that my students did not deserve any more “free days” time.
But, dammit, I am me and I gave them another one.
Same concept as the actual game, I just differentiated the game to accommodate my classroom. This is one of my favorite board games and I always wanted to try applying it to the classroom environment. This past Friday was my experimental day of Scattergories fun.
I arranged my classroom desks to accommodate 40 students, so I set up 10 groups of four desks. Not an easy task, let me tell you.
Now, the lists varied at each table. Prior to starting the game and reviewing rules, I had students practice rotation and see the lists. Of course, not all students were able to get to each group during the rotation and during the game. Sometimes it’s just better to have the students have a hands-on approach to understanding some rules rather than I displaying the rules on the board or just announcing them in class. This is not only a time-filler, but it prevents the students from getting restless and concentrate better. Well, at least this is my theory.
I had the students rotate desks two or three times until they understood the rotation process. I also labeled the desks A-J (because it’s an English class and I try to avoid the use of numbers in my class. Why? Just because.) so they would know what desk to rotate to next.
Once students knew how to do this, I explained the game of Scattergories, Boggle, and Jenga. WARNING: These games are competitive and I knew chaos would ensue. I would play two rounds of each list using a different letter, timing each round for 2 minutes using the second hand on the analog classroom clock. I was also flexible with the timing of this game. I did not have a letter dice so I used my bag of tiles from Scrabble. Students at the Jenga table would essentially play Jenga for five minutes and those at Boggle would have 5 minutes to play. I would find out the winner from those two groups at the same time I would ask the students at the Scattergories groups.
I would keep score by having each group decide who would be the winner in each group. Because Scattergories requires some convincing that their answer is correct and not the same as other students, it was best to have the groups decide. I wrote the initial winners on the board and wrote a slash if the student was to win additional rounds. Students with their name plus one or more slashes won an Oreo cookie.
At first, I handed students stacks of recycled paper so they may use this as answer sheets. I also paper-clipped the Scattergories lists and left them at each group. Sounds and looks like a good plan, right?
At the end of 1st and 2nd period, the result:
Yup. Ripped and scattered 1/4 sheets of paper on the desks and on the floor. That is what it looked like for my first two class periods of the day. And they’re my GOOD classes, so I can imagine the chaos of the rest of the day. Good thing 3rd period was my prep period, and I made changes.
I taped the lists onto the desk, and a student from my 2nd paper gave me the idea of having each student use and re-use one sheet of paper as they rotated. Then, I can collect the papers and give out participation points based on who turned in a paper. See, told you my first two classes are good classes.
And so, I made adjustments:
My 4th, 5th, and 6th class periods did well. 4th period was a bit crazy, but surprisingly interactive, and of course, my 5th period was a bit upsetting (as usual). But, my greatest successfully active class was my 6th period because everyone participated and had fun.
Yup. The same class that made my first few weeks of teaching a traumatic challenge ended up making this past Friday my experimental day of Scattergories fun and successful. A couple adjustments still need to be made here and there, but educations need to adapt and make the occasional change to meet the needs of our students, right? RIGHT!
I remember the days when I did not want to wake up early (like 5AM early) because I HAD to go to work. Now I know what it feels like to wake up early (like 5AM…okay, honestly, 5:45AM) because I not only HAVE TO work, but I actually WANT to go to work.
Over the hump, ladies and gentlemen. Happy Wednesday!