A Recap

“What’s past is prologue.”

― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Hello, again. It’s been awhile. I started this blog with the best of intentions, but I also had the propulsion of summer-energy to set my lofty goals. It’s easy to say you’re going to post weekly on a blog when you’re not also balancing that with 9-hour work days, lesson planning, and grading. Then the school schedule slowly dragged me in its strong tide, and I was swept away into its current for awhile. I want to come back now. I also want to be reasonable. Will I be posting about our classroom doings every week? Probably not. But I would like to invite you to witness the highlights as often as they occur. Hopefully, that will be manageable for all of us.

So, let’s do a recap:

Speakers

In our efforts to help students look forward into their futures and set long-terms goals, we are inviting local community leaders to speak to the students about their careers and how they make decisions. We’ve already heard from some great leaders and are looking forward to others in the coming months.

These included…

  • Leander ISD Superintendent, Bret Champion, who spoke to us about how he uses The 7 Habits to make decisions in his job. He specifically addressed the hot-button issue of “ice days” and how to weigh the pros & cons of cancelling school due to weather. We also saw his years as a teacher come into practice with his engaging style and presentation!
  • John Sandobal (@sandobalj) from our district’s technology department. He tested out some new technology during his presentation, told students about all the job opportunities becoming available in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and encouraged students to start learning code through websites like Hour of Code.
  • Mayor of Leander, Chris Fielder, who gave students a brief overview of the structure, goals, and tasks of city government.
  • A local small business owner of the franchise Bahama Bucks, who gave an interactive presentation about the steps and considerations involved in starting a business and how to plan wisely.

 

History

We are in the middle of our 2nd DBQ (Document Based Question). These are small projects based on analyzing a question centered around a particular period in history. Students gather evidence from various primary and secondary sources to make and defend their answer to the question in the format of an essay. The first DBQ was about the first successful English settlement in the New World. The question was “Early Jamestown: Why Did So Many of the Settlers Die?” Since most kids are fascinated with the more gory and tragic events of history, I think they got a kick out of reading over these documents. Our current DBQ is “If you were a soldier at Valley Forge, would you have quit?” I’m interested to see which side of the fence they land on.

Reading

We are continuing our class read-aloud of Bud, Not Buddy. It is a favorite among all of the students, and I enjoy the loud collective groans I hear every time I have to close the book and transition to something else. They’d probably be happy if I sat and read it to them for hours. It just goes to show that you’re never too old to enjoy a good read-aloud.

My favorite lessons in reading were from the Junior Great Books series. We’ve read through 2 short stories, as a class, The No-Guitar Blues by Gary Soto and A Bad Road for Cats by Cynthia Rylant. These stories are great examples of higher-level literature. We encourage students to dig deeper into the text, ask questions, and look for meaning and important themes. We read or listen to the stories 3 or more times to look for evidence and clues that we might have missed in previous readings. After our last reading, we focus on a discussion question and sit in a circle to engage one another on the inquiry. I have been blown away by these discussions. Seriously, they make me warm and fuzzy inside. I am so impressed by the deep thoughts and thoughtful responses these students are sharing with one another. They are examining different sides of a question, listening to their peers, agreeing and disagreeing without discord and with great respect, and demonstrating high emotional intelligence through their understanding of the characters. I wish I could record and share these discussions with you so that you could be as proud of these kids as I am.

We are halfway through the year, and it went by so quickly. However, we still have lots of time to explore and learn and experiment together. Thank you for joining us in the journey.

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