October 2007 Archives

I like to have different books going in a class at one time. Think of a circus performer weaving precariously beneath sticks balanced on his chin, nose and outstretched index fingers. This is not a comfortable image to some, I’m sure. The standard model, after all, is that everyone reads the same book at the same time, and discusses it together. The teacher assumes either an explicit or implicit role as Literary Authority (lion tamer?). There is value to this approach, at times. Frankly, in most cases the teacher is the authority. He can guide students to deeper understanding ...

Or, Teach and the Net Will Appear Oh, to be perfect. Last Thursday, a series of unfortunate events conspired to prove once again that I’m not. A Wednesday early release for kids, something I’d anticipated as a break, except I forgot that giving inservice presentations to colleagues might leave me feeling zonked at the end of the day. “You just lost your planning period,” pointed out the artful Roger. Then a purple marble comp book went missing, the one in which I do free writes along with kids, and take notes at every meeting, and plan my days ...

Grading class sets of an assignment can be compared to a snake swallowing a rabbit. There’s a large lump that moves slowly through the serpent’s body; the beast becomes rather sluggish until the digestive process completes itself. Unfortunately, we teachers don’t have the luxury of sunning ourselves on a rock until the sheaf of papers is gone. Our kids keep showing up, day after day. We not only have to give them new stuff to do each time they appear, they inconveniently produce lots of things along the way that require our attention. Managing not just the ...

Or, I Never Metacognition I Didn’t Like After hacking our way through Beowulf in a tenth grade class, I was panting behind my sturdy linden shield wondering what to do at The End. You know, some kind of culminating activity that says, We have done this book. God forbid, one can’t just read and move on in an English class. Where’s the grade in that? Because I’m the sort of enlightened despot who doesn’t give tests, I tend to rely on a project or a paper. In this case, I decided to experiment by assigning ...


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