Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lessons From First Day Freshmen.

I'm 54.  That's not a secret.  (And if you didn't already know it, you could easily find the information on the internet.)  Today the freshmen came to school.  (Along with the sophomores, juniors, and seniors.)  They experienced their first high school assembly, and were bombarded with rules and regulations for this new phase of life.  Textbooks, syllabi, and other tools were distributed, filling the backpacks to the weight limit.

As promised, I tried something different this year.  None of my students has a syllabus yet.  They may not really have an idea what Information Literacy or Themes in Literature is all about.  Because today was about acclimation and finding a groove.  The green chairs created the newly-named "Inner Circle," where everybody could breathe a bit, get to know each other, and become a community.  The original intent for the Inner Circle was to encourage communication and Socratic discussion in the Themes in Literature classes, but my schedule has a grand total of four minutes for me to transition from the Gifted and Talented Themes in Lit group to the academic Information Literacy class filled with 9th graders.

So after taking attendance, and doing the Activating Strategy SNOWBALL FIGHT with the "Two Truths and a Lie" paper, I invited the 9th graders into the Inner Circle to try to use their innate Information Literacy skills to decode the information shared by their classmates.  It was one of those days when the Activating Strategy BECAME the lesson, because the connections were so powerful, and the mojo of the class was all in sync.

At the end of class, kids were invited to write a one sentence note, telling me anything that they thought I should know about them on a 3 x 5 card.  I didn't read the cards until the end of the day, and I'm glad that I waited.  Amid the ever-expected, "I hate school,"  "Basketball is life," and "I don't like reading," where some surprises.

 I marched this one down to the Performing Arts director, and she made a note to reach out to her to try out for the play.  (The student is new to the school!)

I can't guarantee that I won't EVER call on her, but I now know who I shouldn't push too hard publicly...

YAY!  Someone who might want an acceleration or enrichment challenge!!

This class is amazing.  I like reading, too!

And then I found this:

You bet.  We're going to get you through this school year.  And yes, I will check on you.  In fact, you may be getting a laminated pass to Tribe Time.

The last card in the pile....

I promise I won't.

I know I've taken more homework home today than the class did, and that's okay.  They had a lot to teach me today, and I have a lot to learn.

Even if I am 54.


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  2. Wonderful kids abound at DSD! We just need find a way to let them come out of their shells. Luckily, they have a 54 year old teacher who loves to do that!