Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In the words of Michael Jackson...


We finally finished The Pearl by John Steinbeck. The kids were more then relieved to be done with that "ancient" book (sense the sarcasm?!?). We began our 2nd novel today. It is a young adult novel by John Volponi called Black and White written 2005.

Here is the synopsis:

Marcus and Eddie are the stars of Long Island City High School’s basketball team. Marcus is black and Eddie is white, but they got past all that “racial crap” and have been best friends for years. Both boys are looking forward to great futures in college basketball and are waiting to see where they’ll land their scholarships. Then one cold night, something goes wrong and they make a big mistake. Now they can’t turn back and one of them will have to pay. Told in their two voices, BLACK AND WHITE is the gripping story of two good boys who make a bad mistake. It’s also a heartbreaking look at the realities of the urban criminal justice system.

BLACK AND WHITE is the winner of the International Reading Association’s 2006 Young Adult Novel of the Year, an American Library Association Best Book Young Adult and Quick Pick (inspiring non-readers to read) Top Ten selection, and a New York City Public Library Book for the Teen Age selection. It is also a selection of the Texas Library Association for the TAYSHAS 2006-2007 high school reading list.  The work received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

We are only a chapter into the book and the students really like it so far!!! Hurrayy!!! Victory for me!!!! I will let everyone know how it goes.

Also, the last two days have been a huge success. I did an activity called "Get off the Fence" and "Gallery walk"

Get of the fence requires the kids to make a decision and think for themselves. We started our conversation out discussing decisions. What is a decision? What makes a good decision? What makes a bad decision? What are some examples? This lead into the activity. I gave the students about eight different statements.They had to decide if it was good or bad and go to that designated side of the room. If they were "on the fence" then they were to go into the middle of the room. By the time everyone had discussed their reasoning, the students in the middle had to get off the fence and choose a side, but had to explain why they went to that particular side.  It worked out very well =)

Today's activity was called a gallery walk. I had the students pick a group to work in. There were 5 questions posted around the room. Each group was to start at a question, read it, discuss it and answer it. The groups circulate through the room  making sure to discuss and answer each question. Once they return to their original question, the group has to re read what everyone wrote under their answer and pick the answer or answers that best summarize the question.

The questions were as follows:
1. How does your environment affect your behavior?
2. What is a stereotype?
3. How do your friends influence you?
4. How are people judged based on their race, ethnicity, etc.?
5. What does society tell us about skin color?

Everyone was very cooperative and really thought hard about these questions! I was thrilled at how things went! =)

Last but not least...I have decided to start a thread called "Kids Say the Darndest Things", so please look for that!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Open house

I survived my first open house this week. Needless to say, I was very nervous.

Open house is an opportunity for parents to come visit the school and meet with teachers briefly. Each session in class was 10 minutes with 5 minutes in between to get to the next class. I had about 10 sets of parents that I visited with total. I was hoping for more parents but it's no biggie, perhaps I will push it harder next year. I discussed what we had been doing and what we will be doing throughout the year. I also explained why there are so many lamps in my room and why I don't use the overhead fluorescent lighting.

The parents were very nice, and I enjoyed meeting with them. It is safe to say that the only bad thing that happened was my neck and chest broke out in hives. When I get in front of a new group of people and have to talk and introduce myself, I get really nervous. I start getting red and splotchy. Some students and a few parents started to notice =/

Friday, October 1, 2010

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind

....Well not quite, but this event kind of matches up!

*Background info* The state of Florida decided it would be a good idea to get rid of the special education classes unless a student has severe disabilities. They are taking part in what is called inclusion. This is where students with disabilities (SWD) are included in mainstream core classes. Seems a little crazy if you ask me! These students don't get near enough one-on-one time with teachers that they should. I have about 37 SWDs within my 6 classes.

*Actual story*

One student in particular is at a 3rd grade reading/writing level. He doesn't say or do much in class, let alone turn in work. I finally got our inclusion specialist in my class to do a little observing in order to help this student. With some suggestions from her, the student and I had what I like to call two small victories.

The assignment was for the students to compose an essay in which they tell me what they would do if they won the lottery or some type of sweepstakes. When I assigned it, I was at a workshop for FCAT writing. I left the shortened prompt for the student, but he never received it. Tuesday I allowed a little more time for the students to finish. This allowed me to sit down with this particular student and help. I got him to talk to me and come up with things he would buy. Together we brainstormed and came up with about four things. That was small victory number one!

Small victory number two occurred the next day. I had him write a few simple sentences using the information we brainstormed from the previous day. To my surprise the student picked up the pen without hesitation.  We talked through the sentences and from there he decided what to write. He used because a few times and did so correctly. From there, I noticed his use of there. It was the wrong there, so I explained there/their/they're. Whether or not he actually understood, I don't know. I am just so thrilled he picked up a pen and wrote for me.

Small victories such as this warm my heart and remind me why I became a teacher.