In my head I’ve started many blog posts over the last several weeks.
There was this blog post idea:
This article claims (based on research) that kids who use computers in school daily have lower test scores. But it doesn’t say anything about HOW kids were asked to use computers in these schools. And it doesn’t ask IF we want to hang all of our success on standardized test scores (we don’t). I know that the collaborative power of the google apps in general and the many aspects of google docs (collaboration, revision history, suggesting mode…) make for the most powerful tools I’ve ever had for teaching writing. I want my students to have access to them every single day. But we have three sets of computers to share among 17 teachers in our department. I can’t have computers in front of my students every day.
But I certainly spend a lot of time pushing carts of chromebooks around…
And there was this blog post idea:
Workshop has uncorked something in my classroom. I’ve dedicated myself to two things this year: the daily workshop time structure (focus lesson, significant work time, sharing/debrief) and using a portfolio to organize students’ work as they all take their individual paths to get meet general portfolio guidelines (three thoroughly revised pieces–narrative, informational, argumentative–one research based, one over five pages, and one based on a book). And these things have gotten me successfully out of my students’ way.
In the pile of first pieces (of 4 or 5) that my students are submitting this semester to me for feedback, I had:
- a few chapters of a fantasy book about a school in Utah where young people who can actually turn into owls go to learn how to control their power.
- a personal narrative about the field of neuroethics, something I’ve never even heard of.
- an analysis of Chris McCandless, using evidence from Into the Wild and information about mental illness to make the argument the was schizophrenic.
- an extensive research paper on mental illness that is growing into something even more extensive as the semester goes on.
- a list of the best horror movies ever made, each with a thorough analytic description (Halloween was number one on the list, and I agree).
- a fictional story about a man visiting his elderly mother in a memory care facility–the man asks his mother to tell him about her son in the hopes that she will recognize her son sitting right before her. She does not. (this from a student whose grandparent is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease)
- the beginning of a science fiction story about a man who must get himself into orbit before the apocalypse, so he can be one of a few who will keep the human race alive.
I could not have provided a specific, directed writing assignment that would have yielded any of these awesome pieces of writing…
But neither of these got written.
And parent/teacher conferences two nights in a row until 8:30pm.
And a book proposal I’m working on.
And busy weekends (I’m a soccer mom and it’s soccer season, there was a funeral last weekend, there have been some family birthday parties, and nice people have had us over for dinner because we’re in the middle of a kitchen remodel).
And a field trip with my newspaper students.
And three talks/presentations in one week.
And yoga/hiking/walking/running to keep my energy up for all of this.
And the reading I do because I’m asking my students to read more too.
And the extra time I’m spending planning this year because of a new prep (yay freshmen! I love them!) and being more oriented on workshop.
And homecoming week.
And a 50th anniversary celebration at the high school where I went to school.
And sleep. (I’m not doing the best on that, but I’m trying.)
It’s just a lot and there are times where I feel like I can barely keep it all going–
so the blog posts exist only in my head where no one else can read them.
Until I find a few moments to utter something. Like this. (Thanks for sticking with me on this.)
(which is actually procrastination over the student writing I need to be reading and responding to. So I’ll go do that now.)