Saturday, November 7, 2015

November already ?

I mentioned that this year started off rough for me, but I cannot believe we are approaching the end of the first marking period ! I have gotten into a nice routine with my grade 6 students and it is very heart warming to see some of the grade 7 and 8 students I have for extension periods getting excited about their social justice projects.

I designed a collaborative TV news segment project to start the year in grade 6 . We were all quite excited to hear about the discovery of Homo Naledi, a hominid and early ancestor to humans. The students had a lot of fun with art, acting, and collaboration. And I think they understand what scientists know about the development of early man... at least they now understand that humans and dinosaurs did not exist at the same time . "Damn you" Flintstones...

Parent conferences occurred earlier this month. That always solves so many mysteries. Apples don't usually fall too far from trees. And trust me, my district has plenty of very strong important established trees, with a lot of pressure for those apples to live up to. But, in the same classroom I have students who are hurting because they don't have all the same advantages. It always makes you realize that you do have to take each case completely separately.

Next up, I am trying to expand my differentiation options. We study ancient river valley civilizations in MP 2 ; Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China... To go along with all my normal teaching strategies I am going to have students choose a "lens" in which to view, compare and contrast these civilizations as we learn about them. They can choose from builder, performer and artist. We are going to have a showcase at the end. The builders are going to get to choose from Minecraft or 3d materials, Performers can show everyday life in these civilizations through skits, dance or song, and the artists can recreate sculpture, painting, drawing, computer presentation or any combination of these.

My hope is to make the classroom a place of excitement, discovery and joy. If I am going to spend all day with 11/12 year olds, I want them busy enough that they are not plotting how they are going to overthrow and torture me !

I did a college fair last week as an F&M alumni. I watched totally clueless juniors and seniors try to get information about this very big decision they face. I thought of my own college age kids and the angst I had as an 17 year old trying to make that decision. I then thought back to my college experience that ended in a totally different direction than it started (I had absolutely no intention of becoming a teacher) As it turns out I can't imagine investing my life in any other field . But I'm also very glad I formed that journey at F&M, which I most certainly would not have chosen had I known the ending. Some of my best lifelong friends came from my college experience.

So I hope everyone enjoys their journeys and all the wonderful, or sometimes bittersweet twists and turns life provides for us. Remember, if you try to keep joy around you, it is so much more bearable.