Friday, February 8, 2008

Poking My Head Out

Okay, so I never finished writing about my trip to New York. And I have successfully used that as an excuse to not write in here for a while. But, heck, I figure it has been long enough I can poke my head up in here again. I have been keeping up with the quote blog and with the poetry blog, but I just haven't gotten back to talking about teaching yet.

In part that is because I have been busy doing the teaching thing. I have a new crop of ninth graders for English. I just started this week with my two tenth grade writing classes. And so far it is going well. I have been working on the class website. I have been trying to think of ways to make the grammar I am required to reteach not so deadly boring.

Seriously, how is it that in the ninth grade, the ninth grade, that I have to teach about plural and singular nouns? They have heard it every year since first or second grade. By now they pretty much either get it or they don't. Just for the documentation that we did it, I had them all do a workbook page on it after we had a PowerPoint I found on the web and one of my students asked why we didn't do this stuff all the time. "I'd be making an A in here if we did this all the time." I replied that I was sure he would, and that most of the class would as well, but that it wasn't really making him any smarter.

So, why am I doing it at all? I guess I am still just covering my butt. Forty-five percent of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam is grammar. My own theory on that is because grammar is the easiest aspect of high school English to grade via a multiple guess test. That being the case I have a list from the Alabama State Department of Education of the 19 Language objectives I need to at least review. Some of them make a lot of sense to me. I can see that the students should be able to figure out subject/verb agreement. But I can cover that in their writing. Parts of speech and forms of nouns and verbs are not so easily embedded. At least not by me.

I do manage to keep them busy, though. They are doing SSR daily. They are looking up Greek and Latin root words for their vocabulary. They are writing a weekly Critical Reading Log on their reading. I am, all in all, swamped with work and not minding it a bit. And that last is, actually (and a surprise to me), not hyperbole. I am enjoying my time with these students. I am, so far, keeping a pretty good rapport going with them. And I want that rapport to grow and deepen.

What I really want is for them to become better communicators so that they can more ably pursue any interest they want to in life. I wish I could just be a bell to beller sometimes: come in 5 minutes before the first bell, leave five minutes after tha last bell. But I can't. There is too much I want to accomplish with them. To much I want to enable them to accomplish on their own.

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