Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Week 18: Bullying Jigsaw, Another Book Club, and a Project Plug (week of 02/10/2017)

(we interrupt this program for a shameless plug word from our sponsors) Mr. Laffin's class has a new project up on Donor's Choose! If you don't know, Donor's Choose is a website where teachers can post a "project" for their classroom where people can see it and donate directly to the classroom. I used it my first year because I was badly in need of a classroom library (what kind of English Teacher has NO books in their room?). This year, we're back with a new project, "Stand Up for Education". My goal is to get enough donations to purchase four stand-up desks (that will fit two students apiece) and eight stools. The other school I taught at had classrooms with stand-up desks and the students loved them! Sure, they complained for the first week, but as they got used to them they saw the benefits. Students were more awake and engaged in the content taught in class because they weren't falling asleep (like they did when they were sitting). The students were, in turn, more productive and successful in school because fatigue wasn't taking over their brains. The option of having a stool ensures that every student has the option to sit, should they get tired. I'm one of many teachers and staff members on campus who has a standing desk. I'm more productive and awake as I teach and interact with my students. CNN even wrote an article about the benefits of standing desks! If you know of any generous people looking to donate to public education (tax deductible, too!), please send them to my donation page. Feel free to share the link far and wide. Thank you in advance! (and now back to our regularly scheduled programming).

It was another fantastic week in the classroom! I am incredibly impressed by my students and their hard work this week. They really kicked it into high gear and my classes were more like high school or college campuses than what you'd imagine in a middle school. On Monday and Tuesday, we finished an article we'd been reading together to introduce ourselves to the topic of bullying. We dug deep into the article, noting the text features and discussing how they help us understand the article before we've even read it. We read it once for understanding, a second time to make meaning of the article (find vocab), and a third time to really solidify our knowledge. We ended by identifying the main idea and then supported our assertion with four quotes form the text that proved that we were right.

On Wednesday and Thursday, students were assigned one of four articles to read and teach to a small group. They repeated the reading and rereading process themselves (with my guidance) and ended up picking a main idea and support. They then got in a group with three other people who'd read different articles and shared what they found. Each student was responsible for teaching the main idea, four pieces of support that prove the main idea, and the vocabulary they found. I heard a lot of meaningful conversations in each group as they dug deep to understand each other's articles. This process saved the students time in the long run because they'll be using the articles to guide their research next week for our project.
On Friday we had another book club and this week was much more successful in terms of everyone getting out of my class and onto their next on time. Our focus this week was characterization, a topic we looked at in "The Outsiders" and earlier this year. My students had some amazing conversations and are clearly enjoying their books. It's exciting for me to see my students so into their books and talking about them as adults would in a book club. Some of my most reluctant readers have finished their books and are ready to discuss! It's really inspiring to see. Fridays are a lot of fun because I get to jump into groups and chat (it's especially fun if I've actually read the book).

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. Do you think there is a solution to bullying? Why or why not?
2. How did book club go this week? What can you do in preparation for next week's meeting?
3. Who is the main character in your story? What character traits would you use to describe them? If they were a real student at Laguna, would they be someone you would hang out with? Why or why not?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

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Period 1- @laffin1
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