Thursday, January 01, 2009

Reviewing ideas & how things went - hope it isn't too painful!

Added 1/1/09

18. Post SSR responses on a wiki. Hopefully the Beatles (my new-to-me first-generation iMacs) will be new enough that a good response can be crafted and saved in the 15 minutes(ish) students have for SSR. I'll probably want the sidebar to have interesting/useful links - like to goodreads and shelfari, other student blogs or wikis, that sort of thing. Haven't found a good way to organize this. How often are these responses due? How do we schedule & share time? Still an idea.

19. Log and record daily participation grades; these can be saved in the online gradebook in a category that doesn't affect the average but allows parents who log in to keep track of the student's behavior. Also shows up on progress reports! I think this will be tough to do on a daily basis, but I'm going to try. Didn't happen. I found myself trying to remember & I didn't want to go by that. I've created a chart that I can carry around with me on a clipboard so I can make notes as I go.

20. Department-wide reading group: I really enjoyed discussing our reading at the America's Choice training workshops. I'd like to continue doing something along those lines at our department meetings. Maybe we could rotate through - each time we meet, a different teacher brings a short article or story or poem or something with enough copies so each of the other teachers can have one, and then we read them, and then we talk about what we've read. I haven't brought this up. I still feel like the bumbling n00b of the group. I need to be less of a weenie.

21. Teach effective paragraph writing more thoroughly before beginning essay writing. Yes, they should know this, but they don't. Out of my hands now; I'm to follow the America's Choice curriculum.

Added 7/11 (technically!)

17. Bring in my stash the day after I go to the library. Take out each book, one at a time, and explain why I pulled it from the shelf and why I decided to check it out. Revised; see #27.

Added 6/5

16. Idea: categorize books that are in student library? create info sheets that provide basic plot hook, description of main characters, the problem faced, and the setting, grade level reccomendation & reason, who might like the book & why; I liked/disliked (or would/would not read) this book because ___. Didn't do this - but I might be able to work it in as part of their SSR responses. STILL didn't do this; it just sounds like it would be great if it worked, but that if students weren't already trained to use their time wisely and work together EFFECTIVELY in groups, it could just be a disaster.

Added 5/29

13. A new curriculum that doesn't suck. Julius Caesar with making hard choices (friendship/patriotism) and dramatic techniques as big ideas; Night with supplemental material from The Hiding Place and hopefully literature pertaining to other genocides; an Arthurian unit; and shorter drama, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I want to do more with short pieces that we can read out loud, especially with this new group. A lot of them are "reluctant readers," and I want to focus on skills rather than struggling through content. Continued improvement here.
14. More books for the class library. Possibly some beat-up armchairs. I've got a new classroom, and it is FRICKIN' ENORMOUS. Yay for used bookstores! Of course, there's always room for more - plus I think some of my books grew legs... Also got quite a few books from donorschoose. Yikes! I need to finish up my thank-yous.
15. MS Word installed on the new-to-me computers - I heard there were copies of Office 2000 that were not thrown out when the computer lab upgraded. Heh - right. I can't seem to get much cooperation lately; I've sent in a tech request to install Linux on the computers. From there I'll see about Open Office. No luck here, but I've gotten some Macs that have it.
16. No repeater-repeater-repeater class... only "true freshmen" will be sequestered in the academy. This means that while in most cases students who repeat English class are sort of scattered throughout the next set of English classes at that level, the English I repeaters will be in a class of their own, quite literally! I really, REALLY don't want to deal with the additional motivational/management issues that come with that class, on top of the new curriculum and the yearbook. Well, I got moved to sophomore English, so this didn't apply to me - and it's not like I can do anything about it anyway.

Added 5/9

10. A grammar quiz EVERY WEEK. This has definitely been in the use-it-or-lose-it category. I like the grammar starters better; we did continue to re-do preposition & HV quizzes. Still liking starters.
11. Start each class with SSR (self-selected reading). 10 minutes? Amazing. This rules. Transitioned to SSR on M/W only for 30-40 min to build stamina. Works even better - students can f* around for 10 minutes without too much difficulty.
12. Technical Document: Literature Guide. Explains & analyzes elements of literature, figurative language, and sound techniques using student selected literature and student created examples. (This is an expasion of the poetry project. I'm thinking I may want to move it to the end of the term and put the essay unit in the middle. We'll see...)I did this and am hoping to make improvements for next term! yey! Like this. Tweaking for next term.

Added 4/17

7. English Binder - stays in class. Includes notes (pages numbered) and a folder for returned work. I think (hope!) it will be easier to keep things in order when there's not the temptation to store papers for other classes in it. Didn't work; some stayed in class, others didn't. They do what they want. Revised; see 24 & 26. There's not enough room under the desk for a literature book and two binders.
8. English Notebook - spiral-bound, goes home. Pages numbered. Includes ToC homework list; start homeworks from the end of the book. We may glue/tape/staple an envelope or something to the inside of the cover for any papers that need to be taken home.Didn't work; got forgotten. I'm scrapping this.
9. I have a course calendar that shows how long each unit is and gives an idea of what we'll be doing each day. I'm not sure if I want to give it to students or not. I think it will definitely help them see the big picture, but I'd want to be certain that I could keep up with updating any changes - I couldn't just make adjustments as I went. I'd want to keep them informed.Didn't do this, and glad I didn't - I think it would've been overwhelming. Putting a list of units and rough dates on the back of the syllabus.

Original post (4/11)

1. I need to keep up with my bulletin boards. I did ... better ... with this. Still need to improve. More improvement! yey! let's continue. :D
2. I've done fairly well with parent contacts. I want to continue that. Ditto. *wince* Ok, this one went downhill. :( Hopes for improvement next term (see #22).
3. I need to make sure grades are updated every week. Done! Yay! Though I don't know that I'll ever master this. Is it possible to grade all research papers over a weekend?! Still dislike grading.
4. I would like to showcase more student work. Definitely done, but still room for improvement. Okay, the struggle here (for me) is assigning student work that is "showy" without becoming arts & crafts.
5. I want to assign immediate detentions for uncompleted work. Not allowed; must contact parents before assigning detention. This sucks. However, I think I can NOTIFY them of the detention right away, contact the parent that day, and then inform them of the detention date the next day?
6. At the start of the term, I will have students identify what they learned in English class in previous years, and what they expect to encounter this term.Done, but not as smoothly as I'd like it. The students definitely saw the connections between the skills they learned at different levels, but there was a definite sense of "where does it go from here?"I've put it as a homework for next term; that way I can look over their responses & decide how to address the issue.

What you said previously:

cupcake said... I like your list. I especially like the last point and will steal your fabulous idea. Given some of the darling students I've had this year, I wouldn't be surprised if their answer was "Nothing and nothing."

Good luck with the bulletin boards. I loathe - loathe, I tell you - creating bulleting boards. 4:02 PM

Clix said... Hi cupcake! Mostly I want to show off student work. I really don't care about them looking good, but I wanna brag on my peepz. ;) 6:50 PM

cupcake said... I am laughing so hard. It's always nice to show off the kiddies, because if THEY look good (bless their hearts), WE look good.

And it's all about US. 7:07 PM

Clix said... *furious blush* Oh dear. I really need to be more careful about pronoun/antecedent clarity... by "them" I meant the bulletin boards! *^.^*

Although I'm not doing it to give them warm fuzzies, but to have one more way of encouraging slackers to DO THEIR DARN WORK! 5:25 AM

mybellringers said... Can't tell you how thrilled I am that at my level we don't have to have bulletin boards… :-) You go girl! 11:44 AM

HappyChyck said... I'm not a bulletin board person, either. Sure, I'll use it for student work, but I forget to change it for MONTHS! My student teacher did 3 different bulletin boards this spring. Overachiever.

Course calendar...At my last school we had to post our curriculum. Mine looked like a time line (used 2 poster boards) with the months across the top and the subjects on the sides--literature, writing, grammar, vocabulary, etc. (You know, because teaching English is like teaching 5 subjects.) You could use quarters instead of months. Across from the subject and under the month, I drew a line and wrote the name of the unit. I also wrote the numbers of the standards addressed under the lines. Continuous things like vocabulary simply had a line across the whole poster. Students knew the upcoming units ("What books are we reading this year?") and we could all see if we were on track. 7:11 AM

John said... I actually started a post last night about reflections of the school year but then deleted it thinking it was a bit too early. I think after reading your ideas it has pushed me to try, try again.

Oh, by the way...I teach 5th grade where we are literally surrounded by bulletin boards while walking down the hallway of our elementary school. Too funny. 6:34 AM

Melissa B. said... Bravo on the "to do" list! My journalistas keep what I call a "stringbook" in filing cabinets in my classroom. This is basically a running portfolio of all their work in the journalism program. They start as 9th-graders with a little ol' 3-ring binder, and are up to 3-4 inchers by senior year. They complain a lot, but by June of the senior years, they're very impressed with themselves. It's also a good way for them to look at the progression in their writing. Not my original idea. My high school journalism teacher did this many, many moons ago! 5:55 PM

Earlier ideas & comments behind the 'continue' link.


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