In terms of blogging, I’ve truly been slacking. And to be honest, I can’t remember half of what happened last month. This is how the bulk of the last month and a half went down.
I know there was test prep involved, which sounds terrible, but I tried to make it as worksheet free as possible and focus on the aspects of reading and writing that really apply anywhere, and they just happen to apply to standardized tests as well.
There was also, at the same time, my trying out literature circles for the first time, with only one book just to get the feel for it. I did really like students spending the bulk of a period talking to each other, but I’m not sure most students were very thrilled with it. Some were and some weren’t I guess, and I did see improvement throughout the month, and way more reading! I heard comments from students to each other along the lines of “Why aren’t you prepared for today’s discussion?” or “It doesn’t look like you put much effort into this,” or “Did you even read this chapter?” That blew me away, and it really brought some students into a level of motivation I had not consistently seen before. Then again there are some students who can’t wrap their heads around this whole idea of talking about a book with each other and not me. I don’t think even now, in our last week, do they get the point of it, and they’re wondering when it is I’m going to give them the true rundown on this book they’ve read and talked about, and when I’m going to test them on it.
There was also this whole leveling thing, which didn’t become a big deal until letters were sent home to parents telling them whether their son or daughter ended up in level 1 or level 2 for English next year. (I’ve since had more phone and email exchanges with parents than I’ve had since the beginning of the school year). The bulk of those conversations seem to hinge on the idea that leveling is wonderful, but only if Johnny is in level one for next year. None of them seem to grasp the idea that if every parent wants their child in level one, there is no level one, there’s just 7th grade English (which is maybe as it should be). But they don’t want that either, because that would mean that Johnny might end up in the same class with a student who’s ok with getting c’s and that may be infectious. They may, because of their 7th grade year, not make it into Harvard or Yale.
It’s nice to get a good laugh in every once in awhile at the absurdity of it all.