Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A Conundrum

I probably owe my class an apology – tonight, even though I skipped an activity I had planned on for them, we ran a bit over – by my calculation, 5 minutes, by theirs, 20. I realized tonight that some students expect class to be over in 2.75 hours, whereas I look at class as a 3 hour class. Even with the three hours, I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do. I have to be realistic, though, and realize that it is impossible to teach them everything I’ve learned about disciplinary literacy – my learning curve has taken 35 years; just not feasible to cram all that into one little semester. So, I need to pull back and adjust my thinking – and for sure be finished in 2.75 hours next time or take a break of 15 minutes half way through the class. Trouble is, I get so involved in what we are doing and I lose track of time. Seems strange to still be so passionate about teaching and learning and students after 41 years of this. But there it is: I am, I suppose, an odd person. I know that there are kids in those middle school classrooms for whom these pre-service teachers can make all the difference, if they choose to do so. I know it is hard work, that it is mostly thankless work, that it is mentally and physically exhausting. But I also know that when you see the light come on in the eyes of just one student, it makes your day.

I didn’t get to the semantic feature analysis tonight, and I’ll probably skip it and leave it until later in the semester – use it once I’ve taught a few more concepts. So, next class I’ll teach a new lesson, probably from social studies, then unpack it – and have them read about preparing students to learn. Vocabulary is a huge part of middle school learning, but I think we’re all about sick of it, so I’m moving on and I’ll come back to the topic toward the end of the semester – as a summing up activity to help them pull it all together.

Wow - Ning rocks!

I am amazed [and delighted] at how this MAT group is actually using the Ning from our class. They've taken over the Blog and are actually blogging themselves, and such wonderful, reflective thinking - I'm sold on Ning and hope that my future classes will be just as active as these teachers are.

I'm looking so forward to class tonight!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Advice to me: relax and breathe!

OK, here goes: I am thinking about class next Tuesday and trying to resist the urge to teach you everything I've learned in the past 41 years in one night. Seriously, though, I need to just chill a bit - we have some unfinished business to take care of on Tuesday night, and I have to be comfortable with not "covering" anything new at all if that's how things go. That's why I need to just relax and breathe a bit.

Here are my thoughts at the moment about class this coming Tuesday [2/9/10]:
1. We need to spend some time with the SCLA data you bring to class - how do you analyze it? Do you have your scoring guides [aka rubrics] ready to use? I also need to share the scoring guide I'm going to use with the SCLA assignment - that is, the rubric I'm using to grade YOUR work!
2. I need another opportunity to use the List Group Label strategy with you, without messing it up this time. I also want to share with you the review sheet [aka vocabulary reinforcement sheet] I used with my students so you can see when and how I used the vocabulary reinforcement strategies with my own students. Then maybe some of this will make sense to you.
3. We need to make some time for Book Clubs to meet - I don't want to forget that!
4. I really want an opportunity to have you experience a Semantic Feature Analysis activity, but that may be pushing it for Tuesday evening.

All of the above may be just too much for one night's class, and I know where I'll draw the line. That's the secret, you know, as you plan, you plan in modules [and you plan more than you think you'll get to], then you can decide as you are teaching what will actually make the "prime time" and what won't - what will be left for another day and what simply won't see the light of day.

OK, it's snowing out and I need to get home before I can't -- Here's to a great weekend!