Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New Start

Happy New Year to all!

It's funny how after only one semester, I feel at home now in front of my classes. I'm supposed to be here, and that's something special. It hasn't always felt that way, but coming back to school today and starting over fresh has been a fantastic experience. I enjoy seeing my students, and I didn't realize how much I really missed them until seeing them today!

With a new year comes change, and I'm excited to push forward with these changes and see where this semester takes me. I only hope that these changes will be exactly what my students need in order to succeed.

  1. We will begin blogging within the next two weeks. Students will fill out a Google Form to choose their topic very soon. I'm so excited about this project, I can't even begin to explain it. It's something that's been eating at me ever since I discovered it. More on this as we progress through the project!
  2. Students will create an info-graph based on the job that they want to pursue after college or directly out of high school. They will research the requirements to obtain their desired position, yearly salary, and the best locations to work in that particular industry. More on that to come later!
  3. Reading! We will spend a LOT more time reading this semester. We have 1 novel and 2 plays to get through this semester (plus a HUGE writing assignment), and although I feel like I accomplished what needed to be done last semester, I think that deep reading got left behind in favor of time. In order for my kids to have the deep appreciation for the texts that I want them to have, they have to start by actually reading them. I'm going to do all that I can this semester to make sure that this happens!
  4. Literature circles. This will be my first foray into the world of literature circles. I've never seen them. I've never experienced them. I've never participated in one. Therefore, it's going to be a rocky path to get there. However, I am determined that having students work in literature circles is something that they will not only enjoy but will grow from as well.
  5. In college, I took a young adult literature course that compelled me to see the merit in this literature. I am going to incorporate multiple genres of young adult literature into my class this semester. Students will work in literature circles to read 2 young adult novels of their choice, which will not only give students ownership over what they read, but they will also work with those of similar interest to grow in knowledge.
Also, I want to mention and recommend a fantastic resource that I came across when browsing through TeachersPayTeachers. Laura Randazzo, if you don't already know, is a fantastic educator and wonderful lesson planner who sells her resources on the website. I have fallen in love with many of her ideas, but the one that definitely sticks out is her FULL YEAR of English class Vocabulary, Grammar, and Literary Terms, Devices resource. The combo pack does cost $29.99, but is well worth every penny! Basically, Laura separates this package into short lessons for three days out of the week: M.U.G. Shot Mondays (Mechanics, Usage, Grammar), Lit Term Tuesdays, and Word Wednesdays. The rest of the week is yours. I won't go into details, as Laura has fantastic examples to look at before you purchase, but I highly recommend this package! We will be started Lit Term Tuesday tomorrow in my classes with theme -- something that my kids continue to struggle with day after day. I'm hoping that these pop-culture-based references will do the trick with my students! 
Word Wednesdays is also a great way to teach vocabulary. I've been wanting to change up my vocabulary to something that requires application of vocabulary rather than rote memorization, and I think I'm going to tweak her lessons just a bit in order to achieve that goal. 

I'll keep you posted!

Ms. Z

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