Friday, August 04, 2006

Kid Germs

I’m sick. Yep, over the last six months my body has lost its immunity to ‘kid germs’ and so I’m sick. Joy. At least it means I can finally catch up on my blogging, since the prospect of actually changing out of my trackies and leaving the house tonight is abhorrent.

Note: please excuse lack of ‘kapow’ in blogposts tonight- I’m high on cold and flu medication.

Someone commented to me today that next week we will be halfway through the term. It’s gone extremely quickly, even though it feels as if so much has happened and some days have lasted an entire year (that doesn’t mean they’ve been bad, just full).

After taking a little time to adjust to my new classes (I spent some time at the start of the term nostalgically longing for the classes I taught last year) I’m enjoying them all, most of the time. Today, for instance, I had a lot of fun with my year 10 class as they worked in groups on tasks of their choosing related to Of Mice and Men. A number of groups have elected to write songs or raps (raps? Rap songs? Am I finally showing my age or is it the meds?) about the characters in the novella, and so much merriment ensued as students reached gleefully into pockets to retrieve ipods and search for backing tracks. Good fun.

I’m loving 11 Lit, because the students are so wonderful. We sit in a circle reading Streetcar and they all read with such earnestness and fun and care for the characters that it is a joy. I sometimes stress about the time passing, but the conversations are so rich that I am letting go in some ways and seeing where it takes us. We began work on the creative response task last lesson- students are writing an additional scene or an extension of the scene. I have dreams of filming some of them further down the track in black and white like Kazan’s film, but I am keeping that to myself for the time being in case I end up having to disappoint them. I’m going to have to start on Blake soon, and attempt to do a lopsided juggling act between the two texts for a while, if we have any hope of doing everything I want us to do this semester.

The best thing about my 10 Lit class at the moment is the way they have taken to the discussion board I set up for them. I had success with this last year, but it grabbed this particular group of students’ interest immediately, and they are responding readily and thoughtfully to the topics I pose, as well as adding their own. Any topic is fair game, I’ve told them, as long as there is some tenuous link to ‘English’ and so they’re also sharing accounts of the fav movies or books that they have read recently, etc. I hope that I can keep the momentum going. I have set up a board for my year 11 Lit class as well, but they are less interested in it at the moment. I haven’t figured out exactly why yet.

I’ve also had a go at developing a wiki with my year 10 class, which is working well- for what it is. Students worked in groups to develop a page for a class wiki, and then I dashed around to various laptops and helped them add their pages to the ‘frontpage’ that I had already developed. I was very aware of the fact that the way that I set up this task worked against the ‘wiki spirit’ in some ways- ie, it didn’t evolve naturally as students refined and built on each other’s research and ideas. What is there at the moment is pretty much as it will stay. It will be a useful resource for them in many ways, and they did experience that momentary excitement of having their own ‘web page’ out there is cyberspace, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t have done with a shared file on the intranet or posters stuck strategically on the classroom walls. I knew this from the beginning, and it took some of the joy out of it for me, knowing that I wasn’t really making the most of it, but I needed to start somewhere, and I didn’t know these students very well and needed to have a few checks and balances in place, otherwise things could have gone pretty pear-shaped. Still, it’s a place to begin… but the excited faces over song lyrics and backing tracks have been more worthwhile…

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