Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why 9th Grade Will Be Better This Semester

I don't have much say in which classes I teach on a yearly basis, but I did volunteer to take a few sections of Language Arts 9 this year. LA 9 is just as challenging as you might think; it asks for solid grammar chops; it requires clever lessons in order to keep students engaged; it demands infinite patience for reasons that should be obvious.

Keep in mind I was awarded a cool grant at the beginning of the year that resulted in a class set of netbooks. The paperless classroom has always been a professional goal of mine, so we spent the first semester test driving various web technologies like blogs, online word processors, and we even did a little web design. These skills are mostly useful in today's world and jived nicely with a district initiative concerning 21st century skills.

They were not, however, always relevant to the English classroom. Worse, I didn't always assess in meaningful ways, and worse than that, my online grade book didn't reflect the realities of our hard work. Perhaps worst of all, I tried a new grading scale that resulted in very few points available (not to mention displayed in the book).

Now if this sounds like typical (if routine) self-flagellation, I'll admit that I'm my worst critic. However, I'm also pretty disappointed in how LA 9 went this semester, especially considering how much fun I've had with that class in the past.

So after tomorrow's professional development, Tuesday brings changes to E 203. I've never been a fan of workbook learnin', but as with all content areas, some language arts components simply require memorization and repetition. Therefore, my LA 9 students can expect old fashioned pen-and-paper assignments. Does this mean worksheets? Yes, but they'll be tailored worksheets, and I assure you my worksheets are hilarious in a dorky English teacher kind of way.

We begin with Much Ado About Nothing and prefixes. Onward!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

stuff and stuff

Back at it. This last week before finals is always a little sketchy, and I get really tired right about this time every year. That exhaustion shows up in weird places - forgetting people's names; forgetting whether or not I fed the cat; writing poorly. You name it.

In other news, it's cold out and I'm daydreaming about camping and fishing.

Semester 2, where are you?