Needed to take a moment and capture the first two weeks at my new school:
I love teaching ELA/History again!
- Great and wonderful things:
- 8th-grade scholars (not students, scholars) who have been through the AVID and IB classes are incredibly prepared. It has been such a boon for teaching students content, and so many of them come prepared with best practices procedures.
- Their reading program comes with books for every student. Repeat: a book for every student. No chasing down resources or playing a dangerous bartering game to try to scratch together things.
- They do not use computers every day. This–this has been wonderful.
- My knowledge and wealth of resources are going to be utilized to the fullest: my AVID training, National Writing Project, National Boards, –everything! I finally feel that I am in a place that not only values my knowledge but is truly collaborative! (This. Is. A. Big. Deal. I didn’t realize how starved I was for this type of collaboration.)
- Areas for growth:
- 8th-grade scholars who are new to Totem are not there yet: I witness the continued lack of hope and engagement in their learning.
- Their reading program is heavily influenced by leveling, and students tracking their levels. This is not best practice, but I can make it work.
- They don’t use computers every day, so I’m carefully planning when and how to implement computer use. There is a cart in my room, and I am going to move slowly and intentionally with my technology embedded instruction. And holy smokes do I miss my Smartboard.
The biggest success so far? It would have to be me flying solo on Theory of Theme and using seed ideas. The first whole class novel is Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai and I asked my dear friend, Minh Tank, who served in the Vietnamese army, about his experiences and resources, and he provided a rich treasure trove.
The steps of Theory of Theme:
- Watch a quick video about theme –informed scholars this is not a one-time deal
- THEMES ARE NOT TOPICS (check that box)
- Preview several images from the Vietnam War.
- For each image, scholars wrote their thoughts/words/phrases
- After the image previewing, highlight three words that stand out
- Share out as seed ideas
- Co-construct a theory about possible themes by looking at the words
- Decided to focus on war, and sentence starter: War can be___________________
This was only the second week of school.
One of the best: