Aah, Semester One down. Much needed break.

Here is my 8th graders’ contribution to the door decorating contest (which we didn’t win) this year. It is charming, but could have certainly benefited from the cooperation of a larger number of students, rather than the four who actually designed and made it. They didn’t want help, which was unfortunate. I suggested and cajoled, but to little avail. Then they were sooo surprised and disappointed to have not won the competition. Oh well, everything is a lesson, right? I hope so.

I ended the semester with two more days of tutoring. It’s always a mix of the same ten kids who show up, never more than six or seven of them at a time. I’m talking to more parents, which is a good thing, as I inform them about this hour after school, or when they call to find out if their child actually stayed for it. My thought of a craft day was kind of…what was I thinking?? I just wanted the week to be over, and was drowning in last minute to-dos that did not involve baking cookies for kids to decorate after school. I look forward to continuing this bi-weekly event after the long winter vacation, as I do like it. Maybe I’ll figure out a more creative focus to build into it. Organize it maybe. I really want to figure out how to improve the small motor coordination of some boys, so am going to research that over the break.

What else…I have an idea for a new focus on organization on my part. The idea isn’t mine, it’s my daughter’s, and I’m excited to make it mine. Here’s how it goes: Whenever she starts a new story, she begins a packet of projects which has a cover sheet. On this sheet are listed all the assignments she makes for this story. She keeps a folder of her own, so that when the story is done she has a complete packet of assignments. The students have folders in which their ongoing work is kept. When a story packet is complete, they just gather it up and staple it together with the cover sheet and hand it in as a packet. On the bottom part of the cover sheet is room for students to reflect on their work during this time period, so it automatically includes some extra, thoughtful, writing from them. This way she has 30+ packets of assignments rather than many little piles of individual assignments. And she has a little bit of written communication between her students and her. It seems cleaner to me. So, one of my projects for the break is to create fresh new folders for my students’ work and separate folders for my own packets that I collect as we go. Wouldn’t you think I’d have thought of this over so many years? I’ve thought of many other things to make grading life smoother, but this one, no. See how more experienced teachers can learn from the fresh thoughts of newer colleagues? I love it! (I’ll include photos of this once I get it started.)

My next area of inquiry and deep thought is the behavior of one of my classes. This is my lower-functioning group and they are off the deep end much of the time. I have not been able to make much headway with them yet, and it’s really frustrating for all of us. The bigger problem with this, aside from the annoyance and frustration it brings to me, is that I feel their behavior is having a negative impact on the learning of everyone in the class. It seems that I need to be super organized with this group. Create ever more super engaging and compelling lessons. Sigh. Yeah, that. I have a lot of thinking to do in the next three weeks! I’ll keep you posted…

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