Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A Description of My Day and Classes in the 2023-2024 School Year

I think I had my classes planned since July of 2023.  I am a planner, and I love writing lesson plans - for the first three weeks of school.  After that, I feel like I am creating fan fiction.  Plans have to be flexible to allow for assembles, beginning of year benchmarks, and of course, student absences.  Still, I am a planner, and I always have a plan, no matter how many times I have to change it.

This year I decided to support of schoolwide goal of improving reading comprehension scores. (Isn't improving reading and math scores always the goal?)  In doing this I abandoned digital and media literacy lessons and focused on character and plot development, along with some vocabulary to reinforce understanding of the literature.  Plus, I love doing novels with the kids.  I like doing books that make them think.

My day starts at 7:30, with hall duty from 7:35 to 7:40.  I enjoy starting the day by greeting the kids, teasing some of them, complimenting others, and generally welcoming all the kids that go past my door.  Some days I am the traffic cop, but most days are fun.  I have only been knocked over once.

The day is divided into eight periods of 50 minutes each, plus an hour and ten minutes of lunch and an exploratory period. In years past, I had 8th grade, 7th grade, and 6th grade classes in the morning and had the remainder of the day for library activities. This year my principal flipped the schedule so that I had classes 4th, 7th and 8th periods during the first semester and 1st, 2nd and 3rd periods the last semester.  I believe I like this year's schedule better, in terms of class management but I think for library management, the old schedule was better.  Nonetheless, I will take the schedule as it comes.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman was the novel studied by 8th graders. I think this was fairly well-received.  Those who choose to listen and read along as I read the books seemed to get the most from the novel.  I supplement this book with The Hunger Games movies, tying all this into a dystopian fiction unit. Besides character and plot development, we also work on comparing and contrasting the stories, Another skill we work on is awareness of nonverbal cues in media.  The supporting cast in The Hunger Games movies are excellent at conveying the unspoken word.

Seventh grade is a difficult group to gauge. As a general rule, their attention span is comparable to a gnat's.  I have started this year with When You Reach Me for three of four grading periods. The last nine weeks the class read Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar.  When You Reach Me is an excellent novel, but Miranda's internal dialog drags on a bit for these kids.  I can feel myself losing them. Fuzzy Mud has similar issues with a 5th grade female protagonist.  My fourth nine-weeks kids also read Ghost, which I thought would appeal to a group of jocks who ran track.  I have not found a magic bullet for 7th grade.  If any of you have suggestions, I am open.

Wolf Hollow is my novel of choice for 6th grade.  The kids love the book, but my big problem here is that kids hear what happens from their older siblings or friends.  I feel like I need to find a new historical fiction to use with this grade.  Again, suggestions are welcome!

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