Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Thing with Feathers (4/5)

So today is yearbook distribution day, and we are gearing up for "dogs and cats living together - MASS HYSTERIA!"

So far TODAY two students have come up and said that they weren't on the list of students who'd purchased a yearbook, and they hadn't gotten a receipt (last semester, my friends, LAST SEMESTER), nor had they checked the list posted last month on the bulletin board outside my room, nor had they checked with me personally, but they were SURE that they had paid.


Distribution for underclassmen will be at the end of the day. I've got my fingers crossed and I'm praying HARD.

Tweaking: Ideas that mostly worked

1. and 4. Bulletin boards - More often. I will change them monthly. & have a plan for what will go there. I would like to post student examples with feedback, but then, hot-gluing them to the walls (after getting them laminated) has worked quite well.

9. Course calendars - Unit work calendars instead. I did this with Caesar & it wasn't really hard; I've done a schedule like that for our research unit as well & it helps students keep track of what's due when. Things change way too much over a semester for a course calendar to work.

10. Regular grammar work - One of the things that's really worked has been using SSR books as exemplars for grammar. It's great because it's individualized for both interest and difficulty. YAY ME! So rather than doing worksheets where students read a sentence and circle the prepositions in it, they copy sentences out of their SSR book and circle the prepositions. Also? I make them cite the sentences they copy using MLA format. YAY ME! But I need to do this more consistently.

11. Daily SSR - I added daily writing at start of class, so now we're ending with SSR. I think this will work out better on the A/B schedule because it will be about a week before we actually get to go use the library. That way I won't have to wait a week before implementing my start-of-the-class procedures.

12. Technical Document: Literature Guide - I want to set this up as the final project for the term. I think it'll be a great way to review literary techniques as we wind up the year. The only thing is I need to figure out just what I'm going to do with it! I think I want to set up something like the "Glossary of Literature Terms" in the back of the textbook. Students will write out an explanation (NOT a definition) of the term in their own words, provide an example, and then explain how the example illustrates that technique.

19. Daily participation grades - I've gotten used to keeping my clipboard with me and recording attendance, daily work, participation, pass requests and other events on it. I'm debating whether or not it's worth the INTENSE amount of work it would be to log all of that on the computer so that parents have access to it.

25. Focus Question - One of the things I'm working on over the summer is being more specific with my standards. I have them marked out by unit but I haven't gone through each unit and said, "okay, on this day we'll focus on this standard with this lesson." I think having standards (and focus questions) clearly connected with each individual lesson will help me remember to reference them at the start of EVERY class, which is what I'm supposed to be doing. (But, as with my reading below, I often forget.)

27. Transitions - I love sharing books and poems with my students, but I don't do it as much as I'd like to. I haven't made this a habit, but when I actually DO read something after their bellwork, they seem attentive. I want to do this every day. I think it's worth it. I'm also wondering about whether or not I should have them respond to the reading, or just read. Your thoughts?

This time of year is inevitably exciting, as I'm thinking and dreaming about next year and begin fleshing my plans out. But it's also a little sad. I had one of my senior editors ask me to sign her yearbook. I haven't yet figured out what I'm going to write.

Goodbyes are hard. We've got just over a week - next Thursday and Friday are half-days for final exams, and then students are gone.

Of course, I won't be sniffly for too long, because the week after, we're going to DISNEY WORLD!

Posts in this series:

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. If I can keep this to a weekly schedule, I'll be finishing up just before finals.

Image thanks to


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