Play-Doh, 504s, Arthur, and Puke – OF DOOM!

September 13, 2007 at 4:45 pm Leave a comment

Today was a fun day at CHS.

I spent four periods with DR, and played with Play-Doh in each of them. (I refrained until the last period, when I just couldn’t resist any longer.) We did DR’s variation on an extended metaphor for the writing process, based on this NCTE lesson. Most of the kids really “got it,” and I think it will be helpful for DR and the students for the rest of the year. It was neat to see the activation of kinesthetic intelligence and all the different ways the students approached the project. Some were pencil-first, some were clay-first, some were engineery and others artistic. The idea of chasing away the inner critic reminded me of the discussions about squashing the Inner Editor on the NaNoWriMo forums. The one non-accelerated class provided some interesting management issues; rowdy boys + play-doh = lots of desk-banging and play-doh on the floor.

I got to see some 504 plans for the first time, which was pretty interesting. I’d like to talk about them tonight in my SpEd class, if the opportunity arises. For one thing, after looking at them and talking to DR, I’d like to know what my instructor thinks about the increased number of autism diagnoses. One of the 504 sheets was for a boy who was listed as “autism spectrum.” I was shocked. Remember “Frank,” from the first day of class? Him. The directions on his 504 indicated that he needed careful monitoring so that he understood directions, and that he’d need a lot of guidance as to socially acceptable behavior. I can already see that he is not well-liked by his peers, and he’s the kind of kid who drives teachers crazy, too. Very outspoken, argumentative, eloquent, and – like any fifteen-year-old – tactless. Autistic? I thought I knew a lot about autism, but apparently not, because this confuses me. I wonder if it’s Aspergers, and they’re just not that specific on a one-page 504 form? Anyway, DR was talking about how she wondered if autism was becoming the new ADHD – a kid doesn’t fit within the narrow parameters of normal, and everyone’s racing for a label and a prescription. I’d be curious to see what my SpEd prof thought about that.

The other fun thing that happened today was that I spoke with DR about what I’d like to do for my unit plan. I’m required to do a unit plan for some of my university classes (I can use the same one) and am supposed to pick something that will be taught around Thanksgiving time. DR suggested either Antigone or King Arthur. I might should have picked Antigone, because I need to brush up on it (it’s been easily a decade since I read it) but man, I jumped ALL OVER the Arthurian unit. I’m a (slightly reformed) Arthur nut – used to read everything on the subject I could find – and, of course, there’s the little issue of I’ll get to use my armor! 🙂 Even more exciting, through, is that DR indicated that CHS isn’t happy with their Arthur unit, and can’t figure out what they want to do with it. This gives me all kinds of neat opportunies to start from scratch and maybe come up with some fresh, fun stuff that CHS can incorporate into their regular sophomore curriculum.

I’m thinking about archetypes, and maybe pulling in some supplemental reading that will really drive home the idea of an Arthurian or heroic archetype. Don’t you think Harry Potter could be woven in somewhere? I’d love to work with “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” – I know it’s a little dusty, but it’s one of my absolute favorites – and I think that might actually tie in somehow. Working on that. Nonfiction, too – definitely some good nonfiction out there. Maybe tie in some social relevance with the Arthurian vs. Kennedian Camelots? 

Then I went home and my cat projectile-vomited. Onto my dog’s head. That was fun, too.

Well, I think I’m going to go put on a more comfortable shirt and then make my way to campus for the Amazing Three Hour Special Education Class of DOOM! (It’s just more fun to say than “ED-SPED 550.” When I’m a college professor I’m going to add “of doom” to the end of all my course names.) If you’ve got any amazingly awesome ideas for an Arthur unit let me know…

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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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