My students turned in their Writer’s Workshops today. Well, yesterday, but I’ve been grading them fairly constantly since yesterday afternoon, so the days have blurred together. As usual, my students have delighted and surprised me.
One of my favorite aspects of Writer’s Workshop is that it allows so much student choice. A colleague of mine just gave his first ever assignment that allowed students to pick their topic, and he was shocked at the number of completed, and well-written, essays he got. I just grinned.
So far I’ve gotten letters to authors (which, if the author is living, I mail off), letters to me, letters to friends(real and imaginary) and several short stories. I’ve also gotten a few passionate essays on the dress-code and cell phones written with the pleading only present in middle school.
It’s great fun. Of course, I also included an “essay” assignment in their contract, they do have to learn to write those, but because they were able to do other things that they wanted to do; the thing they had to do was made palatable. And easier. And more fun.
My entire district is *focusing* this year on reading comprehension. We are supposed to cross content, cultural, and literary lines in our quest to make sure our kids comprehend what they’re reading.
But what does this mean?
Does it mean, as it often does, that we are really looking for a better product instead of looking at the process?
Does is mean that I can, finally, just teach my kids to enjoy reading and call it a day?
Or does it mean that I’ll be sent to another few days of training to learn about how to teach vocabulary? Because, and I’ll let anyone within hearing distance know this, vocabulary and reading comprehension are not the same. They are linked, sure, but I think it’s much easier to get kids to read and have them learn vocabulary that way then to teach vocabulary and have them magically begin to read.
…my resource co-teacher has run out of patience, and I am just running around.
Wow, the end of September is way, way busy! One of my very good friends teaches math at the school, and she just had yet another student added to her class (a class that was already over the contract-mandated limit). So, now she’s one desk short.
We have a new “resource” teacher this year. His job is to follow the students on his caseload from class to class and make sure they are getting the help, accommodation, and attention they need to do well. Unfortunately (for him and his students, really) my district has this awful habit of sticking the resource kids (who usually don’t test well) with the EL kids (who also don’t test well) with the..”high flyers” (who bubble in their own names on the scantron for the test). Now, each and any of these groups could be successful given the right help and interventions–but all of the groups? simultaneously? in one classroom? Makes for some headaches, I can tell you.
And me? I have a meeting every morning and every afternoon this week. Luckily, it’s still early in the game so I’m not behind in anything else, but I sure will be at the end of the week!
That said…. One of kids requested today to go sit in the back during our spelling lesson–she had finally found a book (The Outsiders) that she thought was “worth” reading. So did I let her skip spelling to read today? You bet!
And smiled each time I looked at her curled up back there.