March 23, 2010

Laugh of the Day

Currently, my students are reading The Outsiders (which just happens to be my favorite middle school novel). For this novel study, students are participating a unit focused on helping them learn to be self-directed. They get to choose how much they read, when they want to take the 5 comprehension checks, what journals they want to complete, and what activities suit them best as learners. I truly believe students are motivated by all of the freedom and choice in this unit. No matter what your learning style, there is something in this unit for you!

The hardest part for my seventh graders is to plan and adhere to a schedule. In the beginning of the unit, my over-achievers panic that they will never have time to finish and beg to take the book and their packets home (which is not allowed until the last week of this unit). The students that are less motivated by my schedule, seem to do much better when they are accountable to their own plans. (I think this holds true for any of us that don't like being told what to do... it's amazing how that works!)

As my students work, work, work the days away studying characterization, imagery, theme, vocabulary, social issues, etc., I grade, grade, grade. This part of the unit is NOT my favorite, because I literally feel like a data processor. Submit project... score... return feedback to student... repeat, repeat, repeat.

The fun part, though, for me, is getting a further glimpse into their little minds. It's incredible to read their journals about social groups and being orphaned and trying to survive against all odds. Some of my kiddos astound me.

Today, I was grading a Character Shopping Spree, where the students are given money to spend on one character from the story, justifying each purchase with a reason that character might need or want said items. This shopping spree immediately caught my attention because of the girly items in the pictures (most students choose the more prominent male characters in the story because we know more about them). While this student didn't quite nail the assignment, her justification for her choices were highly amusing. Here's a sample:

Marc Jacobs Bag: Because every girl needs an every day bag. [Oh, how I wish!]
Jacket: For the nights spent watching sunsets with Ponyboy.
Clutch: For the classy events when a bag just won't cut it.
Tampons: For when "Aunt Flo" visits. [I, for one, appreciate the clarification there]
Bra: For that extra support.

And my favorite...

Nintendo DS: To help kill time between the rumbles.

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