Diary: Tuesday, February 19

February 20, 2008 at 12:07 am 1 comment

Today was a post-four day weekend “Monday,” but went relatively well nonetheless.

Accelerated started the day with vocabulary word maps. Then I went over the deadlines and requirements (again) for the poetry anthology and poetry slam. They’ve squandered – almost to a man – half of their month for working on the anthology. :Shakes head: They really need to get started on this and do a little bit every night, or they’re going to have a really rough weekend at the end of the month.

After we went over the deadlines and whatnot I showed them a YouTube video of Alicia Keys performing “P.O.W.” at the Def Poetry Jam. I wanted them to see what a professional poetry performance could look like, and to think about the possibilities for their eventual poetry slam efforts. They seemed to quite like it; I got lots of outstanding comments on both the poem and Keys’s performance choices. Interestingly, 4th period didn’t care for it; they thought her dramatization was distracting and that it was a poor choice to sit for the majority of the poem. They’re an interesting crew of kids.

After the video I had them do a “scavenger hunt” to find the pieces for a found poem. Originally I had planned to give each student a different scavenger hunt clue, so that each poem would be fundamentally different. I ended up scrapping that idea (this year) due to logistical and time problems. Besides, isn’t a found poem going to be different from the next one by definition? Instead, I just asked them to gather the following things:

  • 5-15 words or phrases taken randomly from any novel
  • 3-4 words or phrases taken from the lyrics of a favorite song
  • a previously unknown word from the dictionary, thesaurus, or vocab book
  • a word or phrase from a poster on the classroom walls
  • two “stolen” words or phrases from classmates’ lists

Then I instructed them on how to piece some of this list together, using limited number of one’s own words, into something resembling a poem. I used a building block/Lego metaphor to explain that they didn’t have to use all of the pieces, that they could shuffle them up and build whatever they wanted.

I was honestly expecting them to flounder. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t think this was going to work for them. Goodness knows found poems rarely work for me. But the room was silent, every period. Just scratching pencils and very intent faces. I don’t know how much “quality” poetry (their term, not mine) will result, but I’m glad they seemed to enjoy themselves.

In fifth period (regular English 10) I had planned to do the spelling pre-test followed by SSR (silent sustained reading, also known as the teacher’s chance to actually catch up or do some reading herself) but given that it is a four-day week artificially shortened by a Friday assembly, DR and I decided to scrap SSR and move ahead with lessons. I had 5th do the pre-test, a grammar worksheet (problematic modifiers), and finish up with a slightly watered-down found poem scavenger hunt. I also went over the poetry anthology and poetry slam deadlines/information for them. This class worries me a bit; DR has never done the anthologies with regular English, and I begin to wonder if there might not have been a reason for that. There are several who are excited or at least optimistic about the project, but many seem freaked out – or worse, tuned out. I guess time will tell.

I showed 5th period the Alicia Keys video and was extremely gratified to watch their pens slow and then drop, their eyes turn from their papers to the screen. (Although – the fact that they had their attention on their papers was significant in and of itself!) They really seemed to like and appreciate it. My only regret is that I didn’t have much time to discuss it with them; I had server problems and had to show it at the end instead of before the scavenger hunt.

DR’s advice is good: give 5th stuff to do and they’ll do it, eliminating the vast majority of my management problems. Expect them to sit and listen to me, though, and I might as well give it up.

By the end of the day, I was tired, hungry, and had a pressure headache building behind my eyes and couldn’t stand to focus on anything. Sometimes I start to feel like my mind is going to explode. I’m not sure how to make all of this stuff work. It’s so hard working with so many different schedules. I have my schedule of things I want to do, DR’s schedule of things she thinks I should do, the school’s schedule of time-wasters (assemblies, fire drills, cheerleading mentoring – don’t ask), the government’s schedule of things that have to be tested upon, and the many inconsistent schedules of my classes and students. DR was talking to me about the various things that I have to fit in, and the review I have to do for NCLB testing stuff, and all of the things that are going to take away from class time.

For about three minutes there, I wondered – for the first time – if I really wanted to be doing this. I don’t think my doubt was about teaching itself; I think I was thinking more about the next month or so. It was a stressful moment.

Anyway, I went home, took some tylenol, sat down for ninety minutes with a cat and some papers to grade, and listened to the news. Then I got up and went back to CHS. It was “incoming sophomore orientation night” – and DR is the department head – and I had to input some grades in order to make the quarter three progress report deadline. Yep, that’s right – the third quarter is already half over. Ye gourds.

All in all, I was at CHS for 7+3 hours today. And now I’m at home, writing about it. That’s a long day.


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I Need to Make Time to Post Diary: Wednesday, February 20

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. dkzody  |  March 9, 2008 at 10:04 am

    >>I was at CHS for 7+3 hours today. And now I’m at home, writing about it. That’s a long day.<<

    Welcome to the world of teaching. This is not an uncommon day for many of us.


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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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