Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Flying into spring

Some observations and announcements as the ground begins to thaw...

Third quarter grades close this week. Fourth quarter here we come!

My seniors have a little more than 30 days left. Still enough time for their "three-search paper" and Lord of the Flies.

My journalism students won five scholastic awards at an area high school journalism contest. There were over 200 entries from more than 30 high schools across New England. I couldn't have been happier for my kids. Definitely one of the year's highlights.

I added a fifth student computer to my classroom. I saw one offered on Craigslist for cheap, and decided to pull the trigger. The workstations are great for group research projects, students looking to pull up and print an assignment, or those in need of a space to write before or after school. They also serve as backups if the school's laptop cart computers lose their charge or malfunction while we're using them in class.

I spent this past weekend in Salem. Visited the Salem Witch Museum, caught a live band at a Mexican restaurant, and went on a walking tour of the city. A much needed respite just before grades, MCAS, and general end-of-the-year craziness.

I recently formed a working group to discuss the possibility of creating a student-staffed writing center at my high school. Right now it looks like the logistics will prove too difficult, as there isn't much time in the school day for students to be able to visit a writing center, and there isn't funding in the budget to hire a professional staff member to supervise it and train writing tutors.

With April comes the poetry unit I do with my 9th graders. It's one of my favorite units, and the kids have a lot of creative freedom to pursue poets and poems of interest. They analyze poetry, write their own poems, and write a research essay on a poet of their choice. They bind all this poetic goodness together in an anthology. There's also poetry reading, poetry slam, and poetry recitation. Check out this past blog post for more info about my poetry unit.

Last week I joined a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball League with some friends. My team, the Alliteration Animals, is poised to dominate. Its strength lies in the infield and bullpen. Outfielders and starting pitchers are always easy to acquire as the baseball season gets underway. But good second baseman, shortstops, and closers are harder to come by. That's who I drafted.

Right now I'm about 170 pages into Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. It's engrossing, fast-moving, and extremely violent. With themes from Brave New World, 1984, and Lord of the Flies, it's right up my thematic alley. I know many of my seniors would love it, but it's probably too gruesome and morbid to ever make its way onto our high school's summer reading list or English Department curriculum.

I think it's time to end this missive and get the coffee ready for the morning. I hope all who read this blog are well. Happy spring!


Anonymous said...

Your ninth grade poetry unit looks great, lots of good ideas to think about.

Mr. B-G said...

Thanks anonymous. I believe that the more ownership we can give students in what we assign, the more invested they become. This, in turn, leads to a better final product.

The poetry unit is one example of this. There are specific, detailed requirements that all must follow, yet within the schematic is freedom of choice.

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