Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Thing with Feathers (1/5)

So as this school year winds down, it's time to begin looking at what has worked, what hasn't, why, and decide what I should do for next year.

I really wish I had some way to remember to re-visit those plans throughout the term. It's always helpful, but once it's out of my head, it's like it's just gone until the end of the year looms close again. And now - goodness! it's a mess trying to go through all of these ideas. Some of them show up more than once, in different variations. Definitely confusing... but at the same time encouraging. I can really see my progress! yay!

Because it is SO easy for me to get down on myself, I'm going to start by taking a look at things I've tried that have improved my classroom.

Continuing: Things that have worked well

3. Weekly grade updates. You know, it is a LOT easier to keep up with this now that the yearbook is done. Who'd've thought? *g* I know that when I'm behind on my grading, I'm physically tense all over. I feel irritable and guilty. I've also assigned more writing-as-practice and fewer graded essays, which are a huge time sink.

5. Detentions for uncompleted work. This has been especially effective this semester, since teachers have to make up the time we lost due to weather by staying at school later. Since I now HAVE to stay at school, guess what? Students can stay with me! It's not a punishment, it's an opportunity. >;)

13. Curriculum. Over the years, I have tracked down some short pieces that I really like, & as we've pretty much got carte blanche with anything vanilla, I've been able to shape most of my curricular materials to my tastes. Okay, so Julius Caesar still sucks (Portia is particularly nauseating as we study Act II) but I am SO stoked about the unit I've created. Seriously. It's so damn good I'm considering pitching it to publishers as part of a Shakespeare series.

14. Classroom library. I always want more books. ALWAYS. I have a purchase order to get cloth so that the Home Ec class can make us more beanbag chairs. I get SERIOUS library envy when I look at (some) other teachers' rooms.

24. Writer's Notebooks. Previously, I'd planned to have a binder that stays in the classroom and a notebook that stays with the student (see ideas [7] and [8] back at the earliest post). But after we were required to use composition books as part of the America's Choice program, I fell in love. They're incredibly portable; combined with a 6x9 envelope slipped into the middle to hold half-sheet handouts they're MUCH better than a binder. I'm going to change the organization system a teeny bit; AC had us numbering the "table of contents" pages with roman numerals. Forget that. Next year we'll just number the pages 1-200 and then start writing on page 5.

23. Literature Circles. Last time I had sophomores, we studied various dystopian novels. They could choose from a list & were divided into groups based on what novel they were studying. The problem was, though, that the novels were at or above their reading levels, and I wasn't able to figure out a way to give all the students in all the different groups the support they needed. So this time, we ALL read 1984 early in the term (though they did get to discuss in groups), but after we finish Julius Caesar, the students will get to choose a recent(ish) YA dystopian novel to read for their literature circles.

Next week, I'll be considering some of my failures. :( But, hey, I'll be able to look back to today's post for encouragement. :D Check out the schedule below:

I. Continuing: Ideas that worked well
II: Repeating: Ideas I didn't implement effectively
III: Discarding: Ideas I implemented that weren't effective
IV: Tweaking: Ideas that worked but might be improved
V: Exploring: New ideas for next year!

You can read about some of my earlier plans here; it also has a link back to the one before it. Wow. I'm looking back and feeling all warm and gooey inside.

Then again, maybe that's just the ravioli...

Image thanks to


Denée Tyler said...

So, there is life after yearbook? We just submitted ours, and I have to admit to feeling a little giddy.

Clix said...

I know! I actually wound up in a gigglefit yesterday because we ALSO turned in our (pen?)ultimate issue of this year's newspaper. WUHU! I don't HAVE to publish another issue, but we might. Dunno.

It just feels SOOOO amazing to have that intense pressure abate. It's like ... I'd forgotten how good it felt to breathe deeply.

But you know this ;D

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