So another trimester has come to an end. Seriously, where is this year going?! Before I know it, Prom will be here and then graduation and then the wedding…but I am getting WAY ahead of myself. The end of the trimester and all that I have been learning this year leads me to reflect on what I have done and what I want to do.
Things I am proud of
I am proud of a number of things I have accomplished in the last 12 weeks. First of all, I loved the narrative writing unit in 10 B. I have written about this before. It really pushed students in a good way to start thinking of other types of writing besides persuasive (THANK GOODNESS!) and I think the long-term effects are more voice is coming out in my students’ writing. Plus, it was a great way to get to know my students more.
I am also happy with how the research project in 10A improved this trimester. While there is still room for improvement (and more ideas to come) I think it was much more successful this trimester than first trimester. Teaching research is HARD, there is no other way to describe it. But with anything, the more practice I have at it, the stronger the unit will become. I also know that my students need these skills. That makes it worth it, no matter what happens. At least I know they have learned something.
I have also incorporated more informational texts in the curriculum and am becoming more comfortable teaching them. I have been modeling for students how I approach these texts more and more and incorporated the Close and Critical Reading Questions to help students get to that higher level of thinking. Again, it will take more practice – for me and my students – but I have been pleasantly surprised with how insightful the responses have been and where some students have been taking the synthesis of text and comparing across texts.
Finally, I had much more success in the choice book unit in 10B this trimester than I did in 10A first trimester. Students for the most part really got into the books, especially The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polsnier. I became more comfortable in my mini-lessons and conferencing with the students. I observed deeper conversations in the groups as well. I am hoping for more success in this as well.
Focus for Third Trimester
This trimester, I am single prepped with 10B and I have a lot of ideas for what I want to do. My major goal is to conference with students more, especially reading conferences. I have been doing some writing conferencing but have avoided reading conferences, at least in a more formal way than just chatting with students before or after class. I think there are two main reasons why. First, I felt it would interrupt the students too much during SSR. Second, I was kind of selfish (*looks down ashamedly*). I wanted to read during SSR time and didn’t want to give that up. However, I am much more aware of how important that time can be in a conference. And I also can’t wait to see the new information I will gather from my students this way.
Second, I want to balance out my units more. I think there can be a healthy balance of reading and writing every day and not keeping them in such isolation. For example, just because we are working on the narratives does not mean that is the ONLY thing I can focus on. There can still be time for writing workshop as well as dedicating time to reading. This will give more time for the choice book units and independent work for students.
Finally, I want my students interacting more. Jim Burke stressed the importance of talk in the classroom at MRA. I think that the more the students talk, the richer choice book discussions will be and the more independence students will have in the class.
I am looking forward to see what this trimester brings and what else I will learn this year.