Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Back to Square One

I had to take a step back and stop yesterday - and look at  how I had started things off for the year with my Y11 class.  After having had my M3 (Middle 3) class for two years (Y9&Y10) as a Homeroom class, meaning at least four 100 minute periods a week, split over every day - it has been a change for us all to switch to a plain 'English' class for 250 minutes a week, only seeing them 3x a week.  We have a double (100 mins) on Tuesday and Wednesday and a single (50mins) on a Friday.  We had been following a very thematic/topic based Integrated Studies programme - which I am now thinking of reworking for Y11.

Last week was our first week, so we spent time on explaining the course outline, learning about the Unfamiliar text book they would use every Friday, and doing some basic reading & writing tasks.  Today I thought I would give them a topic that we could debate in class before writing about it - so I could see initial writing skills (after summer break) and a starting point.  What I quickly realized was my starting point was OFF ... so, it was a quick photocopier message to the office & we started again.

Image result for lets start at the very beginning
Reflecting - these guys are still getting used to senior classes and the change they have perceived in focus (this year we will be studying X,Y & Z which will give you X, Y & Z credits) .... I am almost waiting for the "is this worth credits" question to pop up.  I need to further look at my programme tonight and do a complete reassessment if needed - they are not similar to the previous year class, so that will not work.  Talking to several, they are concerned, and have a preconception that every piece of work in Y11 is high stakes.  I need to remember to continually reassure them that all the work we do in class is learning - you will not be 'assessed' all the time but rather be given the opportunity to show your learning off when you are ready.  We will learn about texts and language so we can become more literate and enjoy the magic of language and stories.  We will let ourselves play with words to create beautiful things - poems, essays, editorials - but let ourselves play!

I am slightly concerned about the pressure they are feeling.  We did spend three day off timetable in week one, working on team building, study skills, organisational skills, some writing skills, and an overnight camp at the school lodge, working on mindfulness & resilience.  I am wondering if we did enough, or is this perhaps a growth mindset challenge for them?  I am pondering what I can change to help them feel more secure and confident about this year in my class.

Best moment of the class though - one of my struggles from last year wrote 374 words (he checked and double checked as he couldn't believe it!).  This student latched onto the topic we were debating and had strong feelings about it.  It wasn't grammatically correct or paragraphed BUT he did it.  So, I'm going to celebrate that, even if it was only one!  For this guy - he rocked it!! (and told me he just kept writing everything, like when we did our 100 word challenges!!)

So, as  I prepare to publish this, I have spent the past evening revising and re-planning.  We have an interactive power-point to work with this afternoon, several small group activities, followed by some research on a current event.  Thanks to the teachers that have used Slideshare and the Creative Commons Licensing.  I appreciate you - and look forward to paying it forward in the future.  

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