Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pro/Con/Pro: A Look at My Week

Sorry I skipped a week! I've had a weird case of writer's block all week in regards to my classroom. There are lots of things taking up my mind space, but I feel like instead of focusing and reflecting on what's happening right now, I'm really occupied with what's upcoming in my life and allowing it to take over too much room in my brain.  So rather than a cohesive, solid reflection of one particular moment in this past week, I just want to share a few little reflections of things that struck me as important to my working life and the lives of my seventh graders.  My friends and I share about our weeks together over the weekend, and we like to use the pro/con/pro model, so that's what I'll use here.

PRO: Our current unit of study that I've been writing about, focusing on civil rights, is probably one of my favorites that we teach all year.  Most of all because we do a lot of interdisciplinary planning and teaching with our social studies teachers.  Our students have been immersed in learning about the Civil Rights Movement, nonviolent protest, Mahatma Ghandi's teachings, and the continuing struggle for civil rights for all.  This week I was grading some assignments in which students had to analyze and compare Langston Hughes's poems "Dream" and "What Happens to a Dream Deferred?" They then had to draw connections between the poems and their study of the civil rights movement so far.  High level thinking for seventh graders! As I was grading, my heart leaped for joy when I read so many responses in which students were combining their social studies work with the work we've been doing in English class, discussing Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, the 14th and 15th Amendments, Brown vs. Board of Education, Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts, sit-ins, and other demonstrations.  It was so refreshing and exciting to see such synthesis coming out of my students! Definitely a pro in my week. 

CON: This week, I've been super antsy.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job, and I love my students. I've just been really craving an opportunity to branch out and do something new with my work.  Don't read this as anything serious. I just have a case of work wanderlust, like I need to adopt a new plan of action with something in my classroom. Or like I need something new to dive into in some aspect of my work. Right now, I'm looking at using Curriculet to move my short text instruction online, and I'm really looking forward seeing how my students respond.  I've been loving the way that piloting Google Docs is working out, and I'm thinking about adding the rest of my classes to the pilot during 4th quarter instead of waiting until next year to fully implement.  Anyway, what I'm saying is that I need to branch out into new territories.  I think this CON was why I struggled to write this week.  I was just feeling kind of bored and disconnected, like I was in a rut. I needed to create more time for myself to create this week. 

PRO: Toward the end of the week, I overcame my antsy-ness and snapped out of my slump, so I could do some BYOT vocabulary work with my kids.  I felt bad that my slump had turned into a little bit of slump for them, too.  We all just got a little bored on Tuesday.  To make up for it, we did some cooperative vocabulary work with their devices, identifying key words in a nonfiction text and determining the best search terms to locate the most information about each word.  It was so fun to see them so engaged in their work and really owning these new words. Here's some pictures of them hard at work....

Overall, I had a great, productive week, and my kids showed a lot of new understandings.  Sometimes, that one "con" in the week can really affect my psyche, and I lose my perspective on how wonderful my work really is.  I'm looking forward to a new week and to challenging myself to really engage and focus on the "pros."  Maybe next week my list will be a pro/pro/pro.  

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