Thursday, November 29, 2012

Today was a Good Day

In Practical English, We are reading Red Earth, White Earth by Will Weaver.  We are also watching An Overdue Apology, taking notes, and writing.  At first, we were only going to read the first chapter of Red Earth, White Earth.

 I'm finally finding the light bulb moment.

They care.

I had wondered if they just weren't there yet.  I had wondered if I lost them.  I had feared my lack of teaching experience with them had them lost in a wave of superficial giggles. 

They knew I care. 

They knew there were no solid answers.

So, I'm finding more Red Earth, White Earth books.  I'm ordering them and hoping they get here fast.  I have their attention.  I want to keep it.

They care. 

They have a heart along with those silly faces.  And they're giving me their's... 

The story of Guy and Tom have their attention.  They want to know more.  They understand Will Weaver's language, and it matters because the setting is less than fifty miles away.  They find every literary device.  They see the imagery, after they are reminded of what imagery is.  They have friends.  They have parents that fight.  They can smell the river.

And not only do they want to know more about Guy and Tom, they want to know more about the White Earth Indian Reservation.  And even though they might not have answers, they want to know.

They want to know? 




Yes.  Really.

They want to know.

And this is why I'm a teacher.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Personal Narratives

  This week, I assigned the first paper to my practical English students this week.  They are writing Personal Narratives.   I think they were excited to write even though they have been writing for me all year in their journals.  They looked at this assignment as though it was different, as though it was something fresh.  I didn't tell them, "Dudes, you've been doing this since September  - this assignment just requires you to write a bit more formally with correct spelling and grammar."

  Monday afternoon, I passed out a post from Penelope Trunks blog entitled "My 9/11 day.  My husband.  The meaning of my To-do list".  The students didn't know what to think of the imperfect writing of a blogger.  I'm not sure they fully understood that she was a blogger.  I passed out the rubric I would be using to grade their papers.  On a whim, I asked students to grade Trunk's post via the rubric.  She scored an average of a 22/25.  They scored her down for her grammar usage and the organization of the piece.  I thought that was rather interesting - they were pretty picky.

  Today, I handed out another post from Teacherscribe, "Detention".  I smiled deviously knowing that I had one former student of his in my class.  Again, these kids didn't give any writer any slack.  He scored a 22/25.  Geez, one of the best teachers and writers had been given a B+ by my Practical English class.  I wonder what they'll say when they see their grades from me.
  After reading the delightful, "Detention", I took Teacherscribe's advice and shared David Sedaris' "Big Boy" taken from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day.  I remember reading this years ago and laughing so hard I probably had pop blow out of my nose. They were in awe.  They were grossed out.  They never knew.   They never ever knew anyone would dare write about poo.  Never never ever had heard anything like that.  And to read it in English class?    Sedaris' scores varied from 0s to 24/25.  Sedaris' writing elicited the most response.  Comments made on the rubrics included  "This was the best ever."  to "Disgusting.  Who would write about Poo.?"

Awwww I can't make everyone happy.