I love teachers…

I love to read and write. I love learning. I think it’s out of sight. I love the kids I have. And the ones I’ll have next year.(boom de yadda)(boom de yadda)(boom de yadda)(boom de yadda).

I love that Discovery ad–if you haven’t seen it, it’s here. I think videos like this showcase one of the most positive aspects of you-tube and other sites like it–their ability to pass the positive and people’s responses to the positive around the world.

I like using resources like this (sometimes, obviously, under the radar of those who block useful websites) in my classroom. They are inspiring and invigorating and uplifting and fun to imitate. We’ve done our own versions of the Obama “Yes We Can” video–written parodies of various “teaching” videos, watched the Challenger tragedy and responded to it and generally made writing part of the experience of watching. It’s amazing how inquisitive students are (and how much easier it is to teach analysis) when they hear the world “you tube”. I don’t let the technology take the place of the lesson, but I certainly love using it as a tool. (plus, of course, a whole class of eighth graders quietly humming “boom de yadda” while they write their poems/stories/responses is not to be missed.)

writing, reading, goals, and grades

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.

"satan"s evening gown and other stories

Grading is exhausting. Marathon grading (of the sort I did this weekend) is exhausting, but I think that there is a groove you get into with a solid day of grading that I never quite hit if I try to divide it up into daily manageable piles. Of course, in my defense, the previous Monday I had been all caught up–and by Friday I was sixty-four Writer’s Workshop binders in the hole.
I love Writer’s Workshop–it’s an amazing (and amazingly effective!) way to teach the art of writing to a diverse group of students. I am not the most eloquent of people–but if you’re interested in learning more you can always look at their website here .
Back to the grading, I was reading through one of my student’s “scary” stories, and he had proudly clothed his female lead in only the best fashion. What was it? You guessed it—a “satan” “goochy” evening gown. This was soon topped by the student who set her scary story in the classroom and had the desks turn into portals to “heck”–which turned out to be…her mom’s car when her sister was learning to drive.
They’ve written a piece a week without realizing it; they’ve not whined too much; it’s three weeks till break, and, fair or foul, my grades are in for the first trimester.
What’s not to love?