Well, well, well. Week 8, we meet at last. What’s that? You thought I would succumb to some sort of teen-induced coma before the end of the summer? Negative, ghost rider. Eight weeks of teaching 8:30-5:30 (let’s be real, 7:00pm) and I not only survived, but I also maintained sanity despite inundations with teenie pop, “that’s what she said” jokes and a slowly deteriorating desire to do any sort of writing (hellooo, it is a writing class, duh). I may be writing make-believe dialogue with the concept of summer school, but I did survive. That’s all that matters.
My sophomores finished up grammar usage to assess cumulative understanding of what we learned this summer and my 8th graders finished up their Sherlock Holmes book, The Hound of Baskervilles.
Nothing extremely notable happened in class during week 8 for the sophomores, but I certainly had many memorable little moments with them.
I know I’ve said this so many times before, but honestly, it is so cool to see concepts click in students’ minds. We did a summation activity revising a paragraph with 36 grammar mistakes. Kids were not thrilled about this. WHYYYYYYY?!? (I am such a terrible person, making them actually do work and all..)
They were really excited as we went along and they could shout out what was wrong with certain punctuation or sentence structure, etc. They got so absorbed in it that the whole lesson flew by. It was neat to see them get passionate about an ambiguous pronoun reference or a misused modifier. Nerdy and awesome.
We also played grammar games and wrote an in-class essay chain, which was an interesting concept. Each person was given a separate prompt to respond to and had to complete the first step of making a “claim” about the essay. For example, one student would get a prompt about whether or not telling the truth is always beneficial and he or she would need to make a claim: a) yes, it is always essential to tell the truth, otherwise we will deceive when we should really be truthful or b) no, it is not always essential to be truthful; sometimes telling the truth hurts those around us. Then, after so many minutes, that person would pass his or her prompt/claim to the next person to address the second claim, then the next would write a thesis, then an intro paragraph, etc. It was somewhat disconcerting to see how disconnected the essays were, but in the short amount of time that the students had, they got some interesting ideas on paper.
I also had my kids anonymously write me end-of-the-summer letters to reflect on how the summer intensive program went for them. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
1. “I learned a lot in your writing class this summer! :) I really liked the way you taught and you definitely kept me entertained!” (Thank you very much. *Elvis voice*)
2. “I LOVE YOU!!! YOU MADE ME LEARN WRITING MUCH BETTER.” (Cute)
3. “I loved your energy and your ‘burnin for learnin’ even though we looked tired and dead.” (Ahaha! This HAD to be from 1st period..)
4. “J’adore madame?! Ms. Katie!” :) (This is one of my English language learners. Sweet girl.)
5. “I liked your teaching style, especially the exaggeration part.” (Hmm.. not sure what he means here, but I’ll take it!)
6. “I learned a lot this summer. I struggled in the starting but I picked it up very well. Thank you very much. I will miss having you as my writing teacher.” *sigh*
7. “If I could keep you as my writing teacher, I would. Thank you for all the effort you put into teaching my class and me. We are definitely going to miss you!!”
I love this one: “You really help me improve this summer. I thought your teaching style was real good and that means a lot coming from me since I really don’t like writing. Ok.”
I will keep them forever! PS: We played Bananagrams and celebrated with food on the last day. I’ll miss these kids!
Here are a few of my writing students from my 3rd period class:
Lovely boys in the back! Of course! I will miss you guys!!
We finished up our fourth and final book, a Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of Baskervilles. We did sequencing activities, in-class portfolio entries and vocabulary games, as usual! I also had the pleasure of hearing my students read aloud from their portfolio projects in the Author’s Chair. (Seriously, all credit for this project goes to Ms. Clare LePell. I could not have survived this summer without your amazing guidance!!)
I had my kids write anonymous reflection letters to me for this class, too. These are cute:
1. “I was happy to be lectured by you. The working conditions were fair and stable! … At first I was pessimistic about taking this class and predicting I would fail. But after the first book, I feltl ike I could prosper in this class.” Cute. Spock (prosperrr)
2. “You were nice, making funny faces, and we always had fun in this class.” (Quite possibly my favorite commentary!)
3. “Coming into this class, I expected to lose my summer doing education, but now I will miss this class.” (Love it.)
For their final, I told them I would test them on how much fun they could have. I pulled out Bananagrams & Clue, two awesome games. Most kids were excited, but some were confused on how one could be tested on fun-ness. I had them raise their right hands and repeat after me:
“I, (insert name here), promise to have fun, eat snacks, play fair, and not put anyone down.”
We played Clue because it is a murder mystery game and it fit well with our Sherlock Holmes story!
These are some of my middle schoolers playing Bananagrams for their “Vocabulary Final.” ;)
Needless to say, aside from a few kids who apparently woke up on the wrong side of the bed that week (aka they are middle schoolers and feel the need to be “cool”), everyone got 100%. Lovely.
I updated our Star Work Wall with individual notes to my students. As much as they made me repeat everything I said 40 times and tested my patience regularly, I absolutely adore these kids:
And of course our PAGES WE READ poster!
Loving it! Oh what a book can do for an imagination!! :)
Well, this summer was absolutely incredible, exhausting, humbling, challenging, inspiring, intellectually stimulating, eye-opening and unexplainable! I certainly could not have asked for a better first classroom. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to teach these kids. I look forward to teaching middle school reading, one-on-one writing tutoring sessions and college application essay workshops this fall.
Until next time, over and out!