Time for Reflection

It is June. I guess that means it is time to close one year, and transition to starting a new one. I am so excited about the “Transition part”, since that gives time for a teacher to reflect, recharge and revisit what it is that makes us so passionate about what we do. I love the idea that I get to read all kinds of literature, blogs that will inspire me, and constantly scratch off notes that will remind me of a new thing I need to try in the fall.

I think this post is only a draft as I sit here during my prep with only two more days to go. One area of focus for next year will be more individualized education.

Blogging for everyone

eblogblog

blogging platforms logos

As an English teacher, I have always wanted to have a blog, where I regularly write to model to students what it looks like to write on a regular basis. I have also wanted to get rid of traditional journals and do more on line types of journal work.
Some students love the process of creating a blog. WordPress allows me to create pages under a classroom blog and then update the typing that students send to me on a frequent basis. It is a great alternative to all of the paper assignments. Plus, this way, students can see what each other wrote. I finally feel like everything is organized. Now, I have all of the word press or blog links that my students are using for platforms linked to my overall Google docs website. It is just nice to have student work handy and be able to really get to know people by what their blogs say.

Setting a Goal

Officially setting a goal can be scary. Once a person decides that there is an actual date by which he or she wants to complete something, then the time starts ticking. While it is always okay if a goal is not met; a driven and ambitious person is not going to be okay with defeat. Setting a goal “starts the fire” and gets the action going.

Setting goals work well with athletics, academics, and pretty much any other thing you can imagine. For example, as a distance runner, I set a mileage goal each week that I plan to accomplish. As a reader, I have set a goal to read at least a book (for my own pleasure, in addition to the vast number of other things I read for school) each month. This of course might increase once the summer comes, but for now, one a month is stretching me a little. It is always good when your goal makes you a little nervous. This reminds me of a great quote that I saw while teaching at the highs school last year, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” A person needs to be comfortable labeling themselves at the level that they are actually at. When someone is honest with him or herself, then growth can begin.

The most recent goal that I had my son (7yrs) set was for the new novel that he is just beginning. He is a great reader. I realized that if we did not set a goal as to when the book would be completed, it might drag on for quite sometime. Reading a book for too long a time period creates an experience like sitting down to watch one movie over several days. It as if a person continues to start and stop the movie several times. The intensity is missed and the story is tough to follow.

So set those goals! Achieve so much more by goal setting! Plus, accomplishing a goal is a great feeling!

Writing on Demand

You have 20 minutes. “Go!”

I am trying something new. Before this semester, writing on demand is something that I was never quite able to perfect and use the way I wanted to. The idea started out from our school’s new textbooks which use this as a type of writing students should be able to do. Then, as I started to think about it, I realized that this could be a great way to show growth and demonstrate the skills that my students had gained when it came time to present data for my own teaching observation. However, then, I realized I could use this a step further. Besides just working on growth for my own purposes, I have students really analyze and look at their own growth if I provided the correct materials. I had always had students write in journals, spend hours writing creatively, and of course assigned essays. While this does not take the place of formal essay writing; writing on demand is meant to enhance the process of writing by building the writer’s confidence.

In the past, I would write comments on the paper, and then maybe at the end store a bunch of papers for students to comment on. However, by allowing students to have an interactive folder that stores writing, it is my goal that they use their work to identify patterns, see growth and feel accomplished about the work that they have done. English teachers get a ton of papers to grade, long essays to find a way to navigate through, and never quite have the optimal way to provide feedback to students about their writing. I invsion students writing me comments in their folders about what they could improve on and focus also on strengths that they have.

Why Visualize?

I can still remember the movie, “Cool Runnings”, where the Jamaican bobsled team practiced by visualizing and actually acting out the turns on the course while standing in the hotel room. By doing this, the members of the team would be able to “experience bobsledding” before the official event would take place. Athletes are taught early on to visualize and see themselves completing a particular task with a high level of success early on in their careers.

Just like an experienced athlete, a veteran reader knows the importance of seeing the plot unfold. In order for readers to have an opportunity for pure bliss while reading, visualizing needs to be at its peak. Readers can do this by pretending that they are a character in the book, pretending to be an invisible person and climb inside the walls of the novel while having the opportunity to observe everything, or by acting out the words and emotions that are captured on the pages. This strategy allows readers to laugh, cry and feel the shock and horror that the writer intended. Through visualizing, readers are able to experience the enjoyment that goes along with reading and understand literature on a much deeper level.

Can’t find a book- This is life threatning

I treat not being able to find a good book like an emergency. I want my students to see that it is dangerous. Similar characteristics are noticed when someone might come down with an illness, or is in an extreme situation where survival skills will be tested when there is no enjoyable text to be used for reading. Not having a piece of literature is a hair-raising experience, and should literally be something listed as a biggest fear.

I have not always thought this way. During my first few years of teaching I was just concerned about kids meeting the assignments and grabbing a book “to read” during reading time. Fast forward a few years. Now, as a parent, this is a whole different issue. This is an urgent area of concern. I want this for my children, and therefore, I know other parents are hopeful for the same thing. A significant amount of literature out there has been devoted to showing parents and teachers the importance of students reading for pleasure, and really getting what they are reading. One article mentioned that there is a correlation to how many prison cells built and how many students do not read for enjoyment. Plus, it is such a wonderful and positive way to escape reality, when students nowadays are turning to less desirable forms of escape. I love watching the body language of a reader who is really invested in a book.

I want my students to have a book that they carry around with that they cannot put down. One that goes everywhere with them. Not, just a random one that they pick off the shelf everyday, “just to meet the assignment”.

Teaching with Go Animate

While looking for a way to go through a unit regarding the digital footprint, I thought about combining the “Go Animate” program with the content that we were learning in class. Students love the opportunity to be creative and design a set, characters and determine how the comic will go.

I love when students are huddled together working in groups and using the exact vocabulary that we just talked about in class. It is exciting to see them want to go on and use this resource. Students see “Go Animate” as fun, and a way to enjoy an assignment given.