My mostly worthless four hour long education class requires weekly lesson plans and reflections. Here's what my seventh graders did yesterday, and what I rambled on about it:
January 14, 2006
Aim: How does war affect families?
Do Now: Have you ever been accused of doing something that you didn’t really do? Explain what happened.
Read Aloud: beginning of Ch. 12
Reading Workshop: Students read the rest of Chapter 12 and complete guided reading questions.
WW: sitting with your groups, begin to plan your short story books. First, you should plan each page and write or draw in pencil – then, have someone check your work and give you suggestions, then go back and complete your book in pen – adding illustrations, pictures, or whatever else you’d like to use.
HW: Write sentences with vocabulary words.
My seventh grade class does not get my best work. I see them for two periods after they have just eaten lunch, and I have usually not. The heat in our room is always on full blast and the temperature is usually around 80 degrees. Requests to go get water are constant and understandable. I could open the window or turn on the air-conditioner, and I do, while we’re reading, but while I am talking or reading or while the class is discussing our work, this makes the classroom too noisy. So we usually sweat it out.
This is an advanced class, and they think that parts of our new novel, My Brother Sam is Dead , are interesting, but mostly, it’s just “whack.” Still, we are all relieved not to be doing test-prep anymore.
Sadly, because I can count on this class to be relatively on task if they are assigned to read the book on their own for thirty minutes or so, I regularly ask them to do this. The problem with a school culture that frowns on students taking books home (with lost and/or unread books to back up this frowning) means that we have to read the whole book during class time. When I was a student I remember reading at home and discussing in class, but maybe I am remembering high school. (In seventh grade, I actually do remember reading Where the Red Fern Grows in class, because I know a friend of mine cried when the dogs died.)
At any rate, this lesson went relatively well. The kids are excited to have written short stories and to be putting them into blank books (a school-wide contest of some sort that has been mandated from on high but never fully explained to me,) and they are always excited to work with art supplies.
I got a few complaints that the book was “whack” during reading time, and the usual five minutes were taken out to explore my budding (in their heads) relationship with the new math teacher – speculation about my personal life is constant and creative – but for the most part, students were willing to take the time necessary to read the book and answer the guided reading questions.
Unfortunately, Sam needs to die before mid-winter break so that we can move on with our lives afterwards, which means that many of my students will be encountering his execution today, while I’m out at a doctor’s appointment. I was loathe to leave them alone with this tragic turn of events and a substitute to boot, but we’ll just have to discuss the horrors of war when I return.