Saturday, July 11, 2009

Big Decisions for a New School Year

It has been a while since my last post so I thought I would catch you all up on things. I've spent the past six weeks finishing up the school year and renewing/rejuvenating. During this time period, all JH and SH teachers at our school received a MacBook Pro and an iTouch. We also had three days of staff development sessions in June which included time getting acclimated to our new tools. Throw in some rest and relaxation and a trip to Memphis this week to attend iSummit 2009.

During this time, I also read an incredible book entitled Engaging Readers and Writers with Inquiry by Wilhelm. My colleague, Lauri Fields, turned me on to the book. It has been a while since I've felt so energized by a book but this book certainly did that for me. I have been struggling somewhat to find a way to solidly transform my classes with an inquiry approach. After reading the book, I felt affirmed that the direction I had been heading was indeed the right direction in order to achieve my goal. However, Wilhelm provided me with many more practical ideas to utilize with my students. He also gave me some insights on how I should be organizing the curriculum. Since I will be teaching 7th grade Language Arts this school which is a new curriculum to me, I have an opportunity to go full steam ahead with the transformation. No excuses - no looking back!

At iSummit this week, I happened to talk with my friend Susie Ross from Holy Innocents' school and we are now planning a collaboration with our students around the book, The Cay. Additionally, I learned of some teachers from St. Agnes Academy in Memphis who are looking for classes to collaborate with on the book, The Giver. These two books happen to be two required books for our 7th graders. I am looking forward to collaborating with other classes and to experience the richness that can bring into the lives and thinking of my students.

Susie Ross also shared with me how she used live blogging in her class this past school year. This is something I am going to try with our literature selections. Let's say you have 5 students sitting in an inner circle and 5 students sitting in an outer circle. The inner circle students discuss the particular section of the book under discussion. The outer circle students can't say anything, rather their job is to listen to the discussion and "live blog" what they are hearing using cover it live. After a time, the two circles of students switch positions. The inner circle students go to the outer circle and vice versa.

Some big decisions are represented in these reflections from the past six weeks. Now the work begins to make good on the decisions. Full steam ahead!

Labels: , , ,