Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Writer's Notebook...

I went to a "writing institute" this summer that focused on using writer's notebooks to teach writing. I was very inspired and have asked all of my students to bring a composition notebook to keep in class as their writer's notebooks this year. I'm really excited about the potential it has to improve writing fluency and hopefully help my students learn to like writing (or at least not hate/dread it so much). I have a few concerns though... how the heck will I keep up with the grading? I've already told the kids that this is not the place where I will critique their thoughts and opinions and mark all the grammar errors... but I've got to find a system that allows me to make sure they are writing and taking it seriously, find out if they are improving, use it as a teaching tool, and give them appropriate and fair grades... all without taking a year to read through all the entries and make comments, etc. So-- all three of you that read this dang blog... have you used writer's notebooks in the past? How did you grade them? Was it successful for you?

Year Two

Ever since I decided that I wanted to teach I remember hearing people talk about how hard the first year would be... and it was. But what I clung to in my exhaustion and desperation during that first year was the rumor that my second year would be a million times easier than the first. So far- the first week and a half have not disappointed. While I wouldn't call my job "easy," it is remarkable how much more confident I feel going at this a second time, how much better prepared I feel, and how encouraging and fun it is to have former student's stop by for a visit and a hug. I know it’s only been three days and we are very much in the “honeymoon period” where the kids are still on their best behavior and dressed to impress… but I love the first week of school. I really believe that the first week can very much make or break the year… and so far this week has gone beautifully. I’ve learned a lot about my new students, they’ve been willing to be very open and honest with me and their classmates about their life stories, and I’m always amazed at the resiliency of these fragile 15-16 year olds. They make me laugh, some of them make me want to hug them and weep for them, they challenge me, and give me a sense of purpose. I’m hopeful and excited for this upcoming year and will try to post regularly about what’s working, what’s not, and what’s going on.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


So I've been waiting all year to have one of these moments... I knew it was bound to happen. High school kids are really good at turning normal, totally unperverted comments into something very perverted and immature. However, this week I didn't need any help embarrassing myself. We've been on crazy testing schedules lately, with the Ga High School graduation test right before Spring Break, and the Gateway Writing test this week... so we're all going a little crazy with the long block periods and 3 hours of proctoring. One morning this week before the writing test I'm trying to corral all the lost 10th graders into their correct testing locations. One of my male students was mackin' hard on these 2 girls in the hallyway who needed to come in my room for the test. As he's giving one a hug and saying his goodbyes I decide to hurry up the love fest so we can get going with passing out the test.
Now, let me just ask you what you would call students who are about to take a test? Probably something like "testers," or "test-takers," or anything normal and logical like that, I'd assume. Not me... no sir; I decide to say the following (for all the world to hear): "John,* hurry up, you're holding up my testees!" Let me just tell you, I did not stick around long enough to see or hear anyone's reactions. If I could have grabbed those words mid-air and jammed them back down my throat, I assure you I would have. But no, instead I told a male student he was holding up my (a female's) testees....

Friday, December 14, 2007

Winner for rudest student....

My first period class is just plain icky. They are whiny, negative, rude, immature, and constantly cop and attitude. I've had it, totally over it. But this morning one of those shining stars hit a new low... I'm sitting at my desk at 6:45AM (it's bad enough that I'm at work at that unGodly hour) furiously grading the 125 tests/essays that were turned in yesterday (3 days before finals) when a student saunters over to my desk with his ipod blaring in his ears and a doo-rag oh-so-fashionably tied around his head and has the AUDACITY to ask "what'd I get on my test?" (Keep in mind all of these were turned in/completed yesterday and I only have 2 hands) When I chuckled and said, I'm flattered you think there's anyway I could have gotten all of this grading done in one evening but I have no idea what you got on your test because it hasn't been graded. Are you ready for this.... he then looks at me like I have three heads and says, "What?!?! What were you doing all day yesterday then?!?!?!" Oh I about lost it- "EXCUSE ME? Are you trying to piss me off so that I'll grade your test for every little thing you could have possibly lost points for? Or do you want to walk out right now and come back later with a better, more respectful, polite attitude? Or do you even know how to act like that? Now Get out right now and don't be late to class." And that was only the beginning... first period hadn't even started yet.... 4 more days.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I see the light...

Only one full week of classes left, and then four days of final exams (3 of those are half days) until Christmas break!!!! This has been a crazy, but wonderful semester... but I am so looking forward to two weeks off (actually only 13 days, but that's a whole different blog... stupid county calendar!)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Free Rice... the Phenomenon

Ok- a friend from school passed this along and it's become a new obsession when avoiding work/grading/copying/planning/disciplining... For every vocabulary word you answer correctly the UN donates 10 grains of rice to help end world hunger! Maybe it's because I'm an English teacher, but it's easy to get addicted. And, Hey- you're feeding the hungry. :)
Click here to play:

3 more weeks....

Monday morning came early this week... When I was a student I had no idea that my teachers were probably dreading going back to school after a holiday break even more than the students were. There is just over 3 weeks until Christmas break (not including 3 days of final exams... aka absolute mayhem)... and it's unbelievable how much I'm counting down the seconds until then. Even after 5 days off for Thanksgiving!! I was venting with my teacher next door (good friend from grad school) this morning and we both commented that we feel like we put so much work into this job, try so hard to be enthusiastic, come up with engaging lessons, etc. etc. and most days it's like teaching to a brick wall (one that's facing backwards talking to it's neighbor or asleep!). The lack of motivation and complete disregard for the importance of working hard and earning good grades is baffling to me. I guess because I was a very self-motivated kid/student I just don't understand how so many of my students could care less about even turning work in, let alone doing their best on it. I have yet to figure out how to motivate my students... I'd consider it a win just to get them to walk in class without complaining and whining about something. For once please just come in the room, sit down calmly, and pretend like you want to learn something today. They don't pay me to babysit and I refuse to resort to that. But if Christmas break doesn't get here quickly I'm gonna be the richest babysitter around... ;)