Notes From Day One

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Aug
  • 26
  • 2008

I’ll answer my “How-Was-It” questions from last year later. This time ’round, I want that to be a review of the entire first week instead of just the first day. At first glance, I’m doing pretty well. I’d love to hear how it went for you. Copies of all my handouts from today are at the bottom of this post.


Awesome. I stumbled on the idea of splitting my Plane Trouble exercise across two days. The first day, students complete their individual rankings. The second day is when they work in groups. This is going to make the discussion much more interesting since time will pass and I’ll be able to make sure everyone has their list finished before they jump into groups. Last year, a lot of students didn’t finish on their own before they started the group discussion. Also, the Partner Presentations split across two days. Interview and a little bit of planning one day, regroup and present another day. This (hopefully) forces them to write a bit more down because they’ll need to recall details a full day later. Also, the passage of time usually encourages a better product because they have to review details.

To Do: Count the cards out ahead of time. I use cards to create groups and I had to sort them while stalling for time. If that’s the worst mistake I make all year, though, I’ll be happy. Still, it was a stupid thing to do and it’s all these little things that add up.

English 1 Support

“Oh yeah… Only your own writing is allowed on the People Hunt page.”

They would find people and then simply pass their paper to that person to write the name down. For the first few minutes, no one was meeting anyone other than, “Can you…,” “Yeah, sure…” [moves on to next person]. I tried to fix that fairly quickly, but most students kept passing their papers over for someone else to write their name on it. But I like this activity because it provides a specific task for shy or hesitant students: all you need to do is find the one person who saw both Iron Man and The Dark Knight, so that’s only one question you focus on asking everyone in the room; once you find that person, come back to me and I’ll tell you to find another one. That’s manageable.

I want to keep these kids talking to each other (in complete sentences) as much as possible. I also want to read aloud to them as much as possible, so I’m thinking of something they can do with a short bit of reading each day. Right now, I’m thinking of a different writing task each day I read. Summarize, predict, evaluate, connect, and imitate exercises with a specific format to follow sound good.

To Do: This is a batch of kids where I wholeheartedly accept the claim that there is a teacher gap. Teachers failed these students along the way because our system isn’t set up to work with students who don’t come to the table ready to be in school. I need to be the teacher they need much more than my other classes (who also need that, but have learned to adapt to the way school and the world works; these students have not).

English 3

Great! I managed to end each period with “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” fading out as the bell rang and I said, “See you tomorrow! We’ll do another song and talk about zombies!” That was a nice ending. That also means we only got to that single song today. I took time to walk through what I want them to do with the song (summary, significance, tone, genre) so that tomorrow will run smoothly when they are on their own and have to do this again. For the most part (except where it would become tedious and overbearing), I pushed students to use lines from the song to defend their ideas.

To Do: I need to pick songs that have a clearer narrative, though. The summary of today’s song was a bit rocky and scattered, more like a list of facts than a linear recollection of the story told. That’s not to diminish what we did today, which was to use text to justify our opinions and interpretations. I could have planned the graphic organizer portion a bit better. They folded the paper to make four boxes. The back of the paper was blank so that became our space to write in summary, significance, tone, and genre (predicted style of the song). To be fair, though, this was something that hit me on the way to work this morning. I also need to solidify my zombie texts. Which ones do I copy?


Here are the papers I put into their hands today:

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