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Showing posts from February, 2012

Calendar Journals And Activities for YA Lit Unit

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Cover on upside down! I wrote last week about the novel unit that I was starting with my freshmen. Today will be day 6 of the unit so I thought I would write a little about it. The first  most important thing about the unit is choice. Students choose their own book.  I didn't have classroom sets of novels. I didn't give them a list of books to choose from. I didn't assign lit circles. They didn't have to choose a certain genre. The only requirement was it had to be "worthy" of them. Not something too easy (I'm pretty familiar with their reading levels). And it had to have some heft to it.  It needed to make them think. They will read this young adult novel in fifteen days. They take the number of pages in the book, divide by fifteen and that's the number of pages they need to read a day.  Each day, after reading their pages in class, they have two things to do. The first thing they do is fill out a calendar journal. Calendar journals was so

Super Teacher

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I am super teacher.          (Hear me roar) I read          so I can share the good books I write         so I know the fear of the blank page struggle I rehearse         so they may know the sound of applause I counsel          because no one else will listen I laugh           and share the joy I cry           and share the pain I correct           so they learn the right way I conference            so their writing has meaning I attend meetings No one else has time for             because no one else cares enough to go But Overextending Doing to Much Not Asking for  Help Is the Kryptonite of the SuperTeacher And  Sometimes Good Intentions are  Not Enough I dropped the ball I'm sorry

You Matter: An Open Letter to My Speech Kids

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This has been a crazy year with you guys. I wasn't sure I could coach all of you alone, without a co-coach. But I am very protective of you. Not just anyone could step in and work with you, so I decided to give it a try.  I told you all you would have to step up and help me out. And you have. You've helped with the mundane tasks like filling out the letter point sheets, double checking the old sheets, and going over registration sheets and making sure I haven't left anyone out.  Then came time for the real work of contest speech.  Rehearsals. At the beginning of the season, you "old timers" took the "newbies" and showed them how it's done. And you helped them. You didn't leave them out, or view them as competition.  You rehearsed with them, you gave them pointers, you cheered them on when it was time to perform.   I saw teamwork with the large group events.  You didn't complain when I asked you to take "the freshmen&

A Messy Business

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It's a messy business this thing called teaching. Flying books,  Soaring papers, Mountains of papers to grade Scrambled desks, Kids on the floor, Kids in the hall (No kids climbing the wall, thank goodness) Whispering kids, Whining kids, Writing kids, Reading kids. Kids who should be there, and some who shouldn't. Do real working classrooms ever  Really Look like this?

YA Novel Unit

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Part of my classroom library I cringed as I wrote the title of this blog. I always hated novel units as a student.  I hated them because either one book was assigned to the whole class with little consideration to tastes or interests, or there were a few to choose from, but only ones the teacher had read and deemed appropriate. The novel unit that stands out vividly to me is from my freshman year in high school. We were all assigned one of two books-- Les Miserables or   The Red Pony. I have to admit, I ended up liking Les Miserables,  but I know that most of the students assigned either one, hated them.   I'm not so fond of how "The Novel" is taught to students today. Pretty much nothing has changed. But I'm trying. I started a Young Adult Novel unit with my freshmen today.  Actually, it started a couple of weeks ago when I got new books ( all the ones on my wish list !). And then again, last Thursday when I told kids what we were going to be doing and

Breathing

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Read a few more slices at Two Writing Teachers Better yet, join us and write your own! My husband and I took a much needed breather over the four day weekend and traveled to Wisconsin to see his sister and her husband. Getting away was not without its obstacles, but we managed it. It is so wonderful to be able to spend time with family and not have the family drama!  We did nothing special, just enjoyed each other's company. On Saturday, two of their grandsons came to spend the night with them, as both parents had to work overnight shifts.  Greg and I really enjoyed this since there were only two. Before you laugh, remember, usually there are so many people around when we are all together that we don't really get to enjoy the kids. With only two hanging out with us, we got to visit and talk and be entertained (Trust me. The Lady Gaga song was entertaining--as were the songs they made up)! Chloe got a kid fix, which she always needs.  We couldn't help but laugh as she

Shine by Lauren Myracle

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I finished Shine by Lauren Myracle last week.  I've had a little time to digest it. It was one of those books that I liked, but wasn't sure I loved. But it sure did make me think. Shine  begins with a news article about the beating of a local boy, Patrick Truman.  He was beaten and left for dead at the gas station where he worked. Labeled a hate crime by the local sheriff, he is ready to blame the attack on gay-bashing out-of-towners. But Cat, the former best friend of Patrick; Cat, with problems of her own; Cat doesn't necessarily agree with the sheriff. Cat believes the attack lies closer to home. She begins to investigate.  Her investigation leads he to many of the secrets of her close knit Southern town. Along the way, she deals with her own problems and finds herself again. The story is about Cat, but for me, it was really about Patrick. Throughout this book I kept thinking about how horrible it must have been for Patrick to grow up in Black Creek...this small

Smiling My Way To A 4 Day Weekend

Because of two nights of conferences this week, we have Friday off as a compensation day. Monday is President's Day and we have that off too.  Hallelujah! A four day weekend.  Time to relax and enjoy. As I left about 6:00pm after rehearsals with some of my speech kids, I met a student coming down the hall. A student I have been working with off and on all year. He has lots going on in his life and school and homework are not at the top of his list of things to do.. He's failing several classes and he's much too smart to fail anything.  I check with him every day about work he has to do. Work he's missing. What he's going to work on in study hall.  I nag him. "Hey. What are you doing back?" I laughingly ask. A small grin appears on his face. "I came back to get the stuff for my science poster so I can get it done this weekend." Success. I'm still smiling.

When Art Teachers Are Bored

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We've had spring conferences the Monday and Tuesday nights (two twelve hour days in a row. UGH)  At the high school level, spring conferences are notoriously slow.  They are better now that parents may schedule conferences online, but still, at this time of year, they are slow. Especially Tuesday night, when our boys basketball team had a big game out of town.  In four hours, I had five conferences. FIVE. I had one of the bigger nights. Some only had one or two. Some had none. It was good for me because I crossed many things off my to-do list. I did, however, find a little time to check out Pinterest (everyone needs a little brain break!) .  I found these really cute paper roses: Source: southernpiphi.tumblr.com via Deb on Pinterest The art teacher down the hall from me saw them on my board. An email from her said, "I'm bored. Pick one."  There was a link    http://mybohemiansummer.tumblr.com/SuperSweetTutorials Directions for lots and lots of lovel

Forgetting to Breathe

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Want to read more slices. Head on over to Two Writing Teachers! I began this piece in Creative Writing. The first time in a long time I have written with my students. I thought it was going to be a normal Tuesday slice. I began to write--I was going to write about how I need to refocus on my OLW, Connect. But my words had a mind of their own, and this is what came out.   Chaotic. Hectic. Crazy. No time for anything But Work. Reading drafts Reading finals Grading papers Grading speeches Conferences Rehearsing Rehearsing Rehearsing Forgetting to breathe. Forgetting to take time to  Connect. Forgetting to take time to Enjoy the little things. Forgetting to take time to Tell my story. No reading No writing No playing Forgetting to breathe. But Today  In the middle of a  A mile long To-Do List I took a breath. It smelled of ink and paper, and New books, and  the promise of an end in sight. My eyes focus

Slice of Life

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Writing for me was always a private act. I kept journals and diaries and wrote my life. I wrote poetry. I composed short stories and the beginnings of novels, sometimes in my head, sometimes on paper. But I never, ever shared. Until I joined the Slice of Life challenge last March. Teaching writing for me was a private act. I assigned journal entries. I assigned poetry. I assigned short stories. But they never, ever shared. Until I joined the Slice of Life challenge last March. I can honestly say I am a better writer and a better teacher of writers and readers than I was at this time last year. I take chances with my own writing and in my classroom that I wouldn't have taken before last year.  I encourage myself and my students to play around with words, to discover new genres, to build on their skills (thanks, Ruth for Discover. Play. Build .) My personal writing is stronger because of the audience I write for.  My students' writing becomes stronger because o

Christmas in February

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A friend of mine happens to be the At-Risk coordinator in our district. A couple of weeks ago we were visiting in her office.  She was lamenting the fact that she had money to spend on books, but the teachers of the reading class that I taught last year hadn't given her a list of what they wanted. I know why. They don't read. At least they don't read Young Adult novels. I had a list in my head. So, I did what any teacher who reads would have done. "I'll get you a list!  Put the books in my room and I'll make sure they get to the kids who need them." "Get me a list." Yahoo!  I began rereading posts of blogging friends who write about the books they read (special shout out to Christy of Reading Beyond the Middle) .  We had a snow day on the day the ALA announced their awards, so I watched the webcast and followed along on Twitter. My list contained great books. And yesterday, they arrived in my room! "Mrs. Day, I've never

I Don't Wanna Write Either!

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5:52pm. I've been home for about five minutes. I was sick for five days. In those five days, five mountains of work piled up. Creative Writing pieces to grade .  DONE English 9 assignments to correct. Speech outlines to look over.   DONE Midterms are due at 8   DONE My speech contest registration is due tomorrow.   DONE 45 Speech events to get rehearsed in five days. Writing Curriculum work to do. Three letters of recommendation to write  Done I don't wanna write. I don't have time. Too much to do. Too little time. But write I will, even with no time to think, because it's Tuesday and I must. It's part of me now. In one short year, writing has become an even  more important part of my life than it had been before. And because I took the time to write why I don't wanna (thanks, Ruth), I now have a plan of attack. Later, Gator.  Must tackle the list!

11/22/63

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I'm reading Stephen King's newest book 11/22/63-- I've been reading it for several weeks and love it.  But this is a dense read. You know what I mean? It takes lots of stamina, lots of thinking, lots of connecting. When movies are made of King's stories, he often appears in small, inconsequential parts. Little cameos.  I love to watch for him and see where he pops up. His books are often similar--especially this one. He throws in references and characters and settings from his other books.  Those references don't take away any enjoyment or understanding for those new to his books, but to those of us who've read them all, reading his books is like a treasure hunt. You must find the Easter eggs. King creates his characters slowly and with care--even minor characters who would normally be overlooked and ignored. He creates worlds that require readers to suspend their disbelief and live vicariously through characters. He creates unbelievable situations an