Saturday, October 24, 2015

Week 9- Goodbye Quarter 1!!! (Week of 10/23/2015 )

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's all she wrote. Quarter 1 of the 2015-2016 school year is officially in the books! We did it! We survived!


English milestones
We completed our book project presentations this week and my list of books to read has grown exponentially! What natural public speakers I have in my class!!! The majority of my students spoke with poise and confidence, had great eye contact with their audience, and showed a true passion for the book they chose to present. The rubrics for both the written portion and the presentation portion of the project were sent home yesterday. Tonight's dinner table conversation topic: what went well with your book project? What didn't go so well? What do you have control over and can do your best to improve upon for next time? I am impressed with the presentations this week and am so proud of my students. I have never seen a group of students start off their year of presentations in my class so scholarly and professionally. Standing ovation to them!!!

Next week, we're moving on to presenting our Anti-Bullying Guide projects (nonfiction/research). The rubric for this assignment was also sent home yesterday. It is already online at my website on the main homework page (search "rubric" or "bullying" if you have trouble finding it). While having two projects at once is indeed stressful, my students have handled it with great finesse. They're using the time and resources provided to ensure their success in their work. This week, I hosted a "library lab takeover" from 3pm-4pm after school each day. I was available in the computer lab if students just needed a place to work or for one-on-one support. I am incredibly impressed that I had students in the lab every single day, especially Wednesday and Friday when I had 12 and 15 students, respectively. I am so proud that my students took full advantage of this tool provided to them and worked hard to present a professional, academic, and scholarly final product.

If you have a moment this weekend, please review the expectations (on the rubric) and double check to ensure that all is ready to go for Monday. My expectation for this project is that it's shared in their English folder on Google Drive. Truth be told, I've repeated the expectations for where and how to share projects multiple times throughout the course of this project. While I expect that most students will have successfully put their document in the correct place, some will have gotten confused and "shared" their doc with me, neglecting to place it in the shared folder. Projects NOT in the shared folder on the day of the student's presentation will be considered late and their presentation will be moved to the next day. Please ensure that projects aren't in their main Drive, but in their shared English folder.

Over on Mr. Townsend's blog, I read a quote that I thought summed up the end-of-semester anxiety and life lessons points beautifully (and he's used to me stealing from him haha): "Remind them [your students] that school is a learning process, not a terminal experience. We're all a work in progress. Encourage them to listen to the advice their teachers are giving them and focus on making themselves better people... the academics will happen along the way."  I can absolutely echo this point. Mr. T and I both want our students to be the absolute very best people they can be, not just amazing students.

While it's important to do well, working to one's best ability is far more important. Failure brings learning. I am a firm believer that students must fail in order to truly find success. As I tell my students, "Sure, it's nice to get everything right the first time, but you haven't learned anything more than how to do it right. Those of us who fail learn what works and what doesn't work. We learn the value in reading directions and trying new things. We learn that life takes work, and that's far more important than an A on a paper."

I care for my students a great deal and it truly pains me to put zeros in the gradebook or watch deadlines slip away with unfinished assignments  (see last week's blog), but I also know that I'm helping my students gain life skills. With me, they have a "hard" teacher who wants them to learn these lessons but also a "sensitive" teacher who'll teach it in a way that lessens the blow and helps them carry on as better people. As always, it's an honor to be their teacher.

AVID milestones
The week started as it normally would with Tutorial Request Forms and a Tutorial. Students also got a grade printout on Monday to make them aware of what work was missing and what wasn't. I am really impressed with the amount of work that came in this week from my students. While it was a lot of late work, the fact that my students had organized binders and could easily pull the missing assignments out to turn in was very impressive. What well-organized students I have!

We began a project this week on Thursday in lieu of our second Tutorial. On Thursday, students were asked to briefly reflect on what they did really well this quarter and what they didn't do so well this quarter. Then, I asked students to think about what helped them or got in the way of success. Lastly, I asked them to create a superhero that would help them be their best and ward off their villain. Once students completed their brief pre-writing, I let them get into groups of three or four to repeat the process, this time presenting their writing to the group and voting on one they wished to "bring to life" in poster form.

Students then got to work creating their hero and villain. With samples from my eighth-grade class two years ago to help spark creativity, students let their imaginations run wild as they created heroes to help them do their best work and villains that would stop them from being successful. Each group is responsible for creating a poster depicting the two as well as a brief story explaining both. So far, we have heroes that help with math and English, concentration, procrastination, and studying. We have villains that shove distractions, like phones and game consoles, into our students hands, minds that wander, and the laziness monster. This project has been really fun to watch as they take the directions and run with them! There's A LOT of freedom to create on this project, and that was done purposefully. With this freedom, I've seen some amazing projects in the past and am seeing some incredible work in AVID so far. I look forward to continuing this project next week.

Thank you for a great start to the year. I appreciate working on this team for your child together.

Don't forget to be awesome!
Kevin Laffin




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