The summer is winding down, and I really can't stand the idea of going back to work. As much as I sometimes bitch, there are many worse ways to spend the day than chillin' with Sophie Gene.
Sophie went to day care today, and I went in to my classroom to start working on my planning for next year. My goal is to have the whole year loosely mapped out--and to build really solid unit plans for all of first quarter. The beginning of the year is always tricky at my particular school, because we never really know who is going to turn up. We'll get a hand full from the previous year, plus a bunch of state custody kids, but it usually takes the kids from the "regular" high schools at least 3 weeks to fuck up enough to be sent over to us.
So I usually start out with a short unit on brain development while I'm waiting for the troops to arrive. The kids bitch that they shouldn't have to learn human biology in English--but I feel like they really can benefit from knowing exactly how the brain stores information. We talk about how threats (like tigers and tests and ex-girlfriends)--even perceived threats-- move brain function to the brain stem--the fight or flight center of the brain which has no language--and no higher thinking capabilities. We talk about how much water the brain needs--about how much sleep the brain needs. Of course, all the while they are reading and writing and listening and speaking--all of the things that they are supposed to be doing in English--they just don't notice.
From there, I go several different directions, depending on the class. My 11th grade English kids will start off with The Crucible. Our essential question for that unit (the essential question is the "so what?"--the why are we even learning about this in the first place) is "How do the Puritan roots of our country still affect our daily lives today?" We watch quite a bit of the movie--but also read a lot and do some written responses and some acting. I end The Crucible with a mock trial in which we put Abigale Williams on trial for depraved indifference to human life and conspiracy to commit murder. So far--the county attorney has totally stood me up, and I've had to learn a lot about both of these charges on-line--but the kids have a surprisingly good time with the trial. Most of them are pretty familiar with court room procedure, having themselves been involved in the court system.
10th grade is a little trickier. With them, I start out with the writing right away--and hit it pretty hard. Most of them never knew or have totally forgotten what a paragraph is.
They write short, one paragraph reflections for me about themselves--on topics like school lunch in elementary school, their first bike, their first day of high school. We do this while reading The House on Mango Street, a beautiful little novella that you should read if you haven't.
Sorry to give you a play by play of work stuff. It's just kind of consuming my thoughts now that there are only a couple of weeks until school starts.
If anyone has great (or terrible) memories of high school English, please leave a comment. I'm always looking for new ideas.
Today's best thing about being a mom:
Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Thinking about going back to work