Welcome to week two back after break. One more week left before Semester 1 is over and done with. That means, anything you need to make up or redo you need to be done with by next Friday. One week! After that, you have 2-3 weeks (I can't remember exactly, but I will verify) to turn in late work from Semester 1. And then you're done. And we are moving fast into Semester 2 already.
This week we have been breaking into the phrase "Seeing is Believing" and trying to apply it to the works we have been reading and listening to so far this collection. We have been doing a lot of writing, and getting our book reviews finished up as well. This has been a busy week! Good job at keeping up.
We will be keeping it pretty busy for the next few weeks as well, as we move forward in what will be known as our "opinion" essay. I say "opinion" in quotes for one reason. You're opinions need to be heard, but they do not matter unless you can back them up with proof, with evidence. We need to see what you mean in order to believe it ourselves. This is where our opinions become something more, something worth arguing for, something we can prove, something to believe.
Are you ready?
It has been another long wait for my supposed weekly installment of blogging. What a month it has been! In December we read a whole book with your small groups. You discovered so much more about these books through five different small group discussions. You even discussed your experience with book in front of half the class. I bet that was scary, but everyone did an amazing job. Really interesting, thought-provoking conversations from all of you. Who knew that so much could be hidden in a little ol' book? Hmm...
And this month, two weeks in, and only one week down. SNOW!!!! I sure was glad to get back to school this week, but having some time with my daughter, towing her on her pink saucer with the dog leash in the front yard, getting to rest for that extra week, getting to feel even more ready to come back, I think all of that helped me be ready for this work we do. I felt some of that from you all as well. We seemed to come back... more... reserved I guess. Yeah. More reserved. Ready. Ready for what is next.
This week we explored a new platform of storytelling, the radio play. We listened to "Sorry, Wrong Number" and I think it's safe to say that you all seemed to enjoy it. I even tricked you into taking notes and thinking on a deeper level as we read along. Theme and tone. Theme and tone. Then we got to do a little acting of our own, getting in front of the class and performing some reenactments based on those themes and tones we found through "Sorry, Wrong Number." That was fun. I had fun at least. How about you?
Next, we will be going deeper into the unknown. This whole unit is based on perception vs. reality. What we beleive to be real, versus what is actually true for all of us. I'm also planning on incorporating what will be known as "Science Fridays" into our curriculum, so we can start understadning the scientific world around us from a literary perspective. Perspective... sounds an awful lot like perception... Hmm...
Well, thank you for the great week back, and I am excited to see what is coming next.
Well, it's that time of year when I have no time. Between all the essays we've been doing, and now our short stories, I have had no time to breathe, let alone update this here blog. But here it goes:
When I think of breaks and time off from school, I get a little excited, a little nervous, and not always very ready for the time away from the classroom.
Growing up, I had it pretty easy, relatively speaking. My mom made pretty good money and did a great job supporting my brother and me. We were never hungry, always had help with our homework when we needed it, and were disciplined in a way that helped us be responsible for our own stuff; and all of this as a single mother in an unforgiving, patriarchal society is beyond amazing (Thanks Mom!). But overall, even though I was a great procrastinator--still am in many respects of the word--I still found a way to do just fine in school; it just came easy to me.
But this isn't true for everyone, and it took me a long time to realize this fact.
Not everyone was raised like me or is as lucky as I was and still am. We need to know this about the world around us. We are all different.
But what really matters is embracing these differences, not allowing hateful words to become our own, to be above the rhetoric permeating the world during trying times. We need to be that safe space for those who don't have it, that working environment for those living each day packed full, no time for homework. We need to be there, to stand up when we see wrong in this world, and shout at the top of our lungs "No More!" We are in this together, and its about time we start realizing this.
I'm kind of ranting, and I'm not sure how much of this will actually make it to my final post, but it doesn't make any of it less true. We need to fight against the atrocious acts we see around us.
I'm glad that I haven't seen these at our school, the fake deportation slips, or the swastikas and hate speech that is popping up around the country and even other parts of our state. But that's what I haven't seen. I know some of that language must be still coming up here and there. And we need to be the ones to stop it. Racism must be stopped. Sexism and sexual assault must be stopped. Attacking a person because of what they wear, what they look like, or how they worship and practice religion, needs to stop.
And that's why I'm here. I am your advocate, your ally, your voice when you feel you're getting shut down by the hate around you. We have the power to make change. We just have to be consistent.
So, invite that friend over for dinner every once in a while, they may be hungry. Tell them to meet you at the library after school, so they have an excuse to study. Stop those kids from laughing at your friend crying; they don't fully understand why, and it's not that they need to know why, but that they need to know that it isn't okay to laugh. Stand up, stop it in it's tracks. Don't be afraid to spread good in this world.
So, it's been a while since I've updated this blog, and a lot of this has been building up in me over the weeks. Sometimes we need to let it out. We need to be heard. We need to make it official. We will stand up for those who need it. We will be the change we wish to see in this world. One day at a time, I suppose. Sometimes a few steps in the wrong direction, but we may not always see the proper path in front of us until it is a few miles out of our way. We learn from mistakes. Mistakes are okay. Maybe this post will be a mistake, and I will find a way to say the right thing next time. All I know is that my goal is no mistake. Helping people help others, to be compassionate and understanding, to listen to and see new perspectives, these are all good things in this world. And I know that spreading that understanding is no mistake. So, how do we go about making it happen?
Give thanks for what have and be aware of what others might not have. Give thanks. As in, give something to someone, something that they can be thankful for.
And get ready for literature circles next week :)
We have finished Esperanza Rising! And with this accomplishment we took some time to reflect on what this story means to us. We created some interesting projects to show off our hard work with this novel. We focused on theme and central ideas of the book, those ideas that go beyond what we saw and read; those symbols, metaphors, and what it all means to us as a people.
Yeah, deep stuff.
But that's what we do in Language Arts. We take that surface information, Esperanza's situation--her journey to America, the hardships she faces--and dig deeper into what it really means. And I think we have found a good place to be with this work. We just started out this year and we are quickly working through these elements of literature, the world around us, of life. A big theme from this book? Something you will get to know well throughout your life... Change!
We will be starting this next week with a lot of change. New classes and schedules for most of you is just part of it. Much like Esperanza, we are in the early stages of change that will follow us this whole year and beyond. And change can be scary. It's not easy to start something new. We stumble. We mess up. We fail. But we also learn. We stand up and power through, stumble some more, and make the work we do mean something by the journey we take in creating it.
So, you don't have to be ready for change, but you can handle it.
Patience... patience... patience...
We have a hard time getting through some of the material now and again. Whether it be distractions, life getting in the way, understanding what is being asked, or even just trying to stay focused, there are many reasons to why we just can't get through what we have planned for the week. But, just like Esperanza is beginning to see her situation through new eyes, we can do the same.
We have tough work ahead of us. It is not easy to look at something that seems so straightforward and to take it apart to see something new; something that we never thought of in the first place. I'm talking about analyzing this story and finding the real life in it. Those connections to us, to our struggles, to our victories, to our families, our friends, our lives... How do we see that in this novel? It is difficult. So, we've slowed down a little bit. We are saving the final chapters for next week, and giving us time in class to make sense of the story as a whole. And I think this has helped us actually work more efficiently.
We have almost finished Esperanza Rising and will be doing a couple more discussions on our thoughts and beginning our projects next week. I'm giving you this time to make sure we all have a chance to truly understand this novel, and more importantly understanding what we can do to make these inferences in real life. Because this is all about real life.
I've said it a few times before, but really this book doesn't matter... in the grand scheme of things, at least. Ten years from now it's not important if you know what a potato could symbolically represent in this novel. But it does matter that we are able to see these possibilities in the world around us. We need to be able to look into something at a deeper level, and think about the not so obvious truth laying beneath everything around us.
So we slow down... take in the moment... and figure it out at our own pace... Right Now!
I want to reuse the meme from last week, because it seems so fitting for what we are still doing. But just for the sake of variety, here's a new one...
I know... right? But seriously, what if it did? What if the things you are learning actually pertained to the rest of your life? Would you believe me if I said they did?
I was skeptical when I was younger. I didn't feel like school was for me. I thought that my teachers didn't like me or any of my friend--being the skateboarder, there were a lot of stereotypes that people thought that I fell in to. But school, the work at least, was easy for me. And I think because of all this, it felt like just another hoop to jump through. I was picked on, there were too many rules, and I just wanted to disappear into my music and hoodie and go about my day. But I wasn't allowed to. I was told, continuously, to take off my hood, to quit asking questions... to just do as I'm told.
Except... there was one teacher--just one that I can remember--who challenged me to think a bit more deeply. I was taught to keep asking those questions, and to then begin seeking answers. We learned about the world around us through the literature we read and analyzed. We could begin to see what these characters thought and felt, we saw perspective. We challenged each other, fought for what we thought was right, and felt like we could make change. And I began to see school a little differently.
I found that learning things for the sake of learning them made me feel... good! Beginning to share my perspective--a perspective that I felt before to be completely unheard--felt so empowering.
I've come to a conclusion: if I can reach students in the same way my former Language Arts teacher reached me, then school is worth it. I can make school worth it.
So, I don't blame you if you don't like school right now, if you get bored, or tired of the work, or just can't wait to get out of there; I felt the same before in my life. But please know, that no matter what I say or do, I am always fighting for you. I am always going to work my hardest to reach you where you are, to help lift you above where you think you are, and help you reach heights you never knew you were capable of. That's why I teach. And that's why I am here at a place I thought I couldn't wait to leave. For you.
Let's Change the World!!!
I thought this was a good image to share with you as we begin our journey with the novel Esperanza Rising. I will for sure give you a framework of which to begin your understanding, but I really want you to be the ones who find out what is important in a story. We will focus on plot structure, on symbolism, on metaphor, on character, on Esperanza's transformation, but what that means, the impact that it has, the message it leaves, that's up to you.
We started out this story with an emphasis on character and plot, but as we progress, as we begin our literature circle discussions, what we discuss, what we deem most important, is completely up to you. When I hand over the teaching to you, you get more out of it. So, get ready to not only learn, but also to teach.
Thanks for the awesome time this week. I am so very excited to get deeper into this novel and to watch all of you learn and transform right alongside Esperanza.
We made it through week two, and we are really getting into the content now. We explored our first story out of the Collections textbook, "Rogue Wave" and are ready to apply our understanding of plot and character as this story has shown us. I was planning on having us get to work on our first poster discussion on Friday, but decided to take a detour into Google Classroom instead. This will be an app we use regularly. We will be not only turning in our work, but also going here for assignments. You'll see more of this by Friday!
We have been working hard on essential questions, and that work has been paying off. We are already starting to ask those questions that go beyond the text, which will help us when we start our poster discussions. It's important to understand what makes a question essential when we start conversations; these third level questions keep conversations going!
Next week we should be starting our first novel of the year, Esperanza Rising, and I am super excited to be teaching you this metaphor packed extravaganza. We will continue to work on theme, creating those essential questions, and exploring various literary devices. I'm also super excited about this because I didn't find time last year to teach a novel. We will get to explore this new text and what we can learn from it together.
Welcome to my blog about our weeks together. I'm just going to wrap up what we worked on, where we're headed, trends I've noticed, and maybe offer my musings for the week. So, here it goes...
The first week is always so, so busy! We got to know each other through our randomizer cards (still trying to get through all of them). We were introduced to a regular component of our class called Writing Practice. And now we are about to establish some classroom norms that we can all agree to. We need to make this first week count, because this is the week of which the rest of our year is determined.
I've heard this phrase recently regarding how we learn, and grow, and accomplish things in life. It goes like this, "Everything that I have accomplished is because I stand on the shoulders of giants."
Now, I am paraphrasing this particular saying, but I think I have the message fairly clear, despite my muddy memory. The message is that nothing we accomplish is done on our own. Any new technologies, philosophies, or ideas are born of the discoveries and achievements of those before us. We receive this work, absorb it, and from it create new things that would otherwise be impossible to even imagine.
And that is where we begin, with this foundation of community built in the first week of school. With this work, this community, this collaboration, we can accomplish any goal we set before us.
So, here is to a great week, and the great year to come. I hope you all are ready to change the world!
This is where you can check and see a brief overview of what we have done as a class each week. My intention is to keep this up to date with happenings, assignments, trends, previews of the following week, and anything else that needs to be shared with my students and their families. I may not always get something written each week, but I will do my best to be disciplined in keeping you informed.