Wednesdays are one of our two block days. We have 1st, 3rd, 7th and Advisory. Because I have my morning students in 1st and 2nd and my afternoon students in 6th and 7th, that ensures that I see them every day. So I try to keep more focused on English on Wednesdays and History on Thursdays, though that's also a pretty loose distinction. I try not to split them up in terms of student experience, although I am required to have two separate grades with distinct categories for each. In reality, the skills overlap and the content overlaps...so I throw it all together.
For the curriculum today, students did Language Mastery #17 and then those who finished early worked on make-up work or their Independent Reading Project, which is due next Wednesday. Then I had them do the end of the Writing Tip #1 lesson about verbs by finding a partner and helping them revise their verb usage. They went through one of their major pieces of writing - the Puppet Origin Story - and highlighted all the verbs. This let me teach them some Mac-related hacks that saved them a lot of time - we used the three-finger tap to bring up definition/part of speech of words. We also used command-F to find all the really common verbs (is/was/said) and highlight them.
Finally, they got back with their partner and went through the highlighted verbs to make changes to the most boring ones. I showed them how to look up synonyms and make sure they were using the right definition.
While they worked on that, I went around to every student and did a quick check-in about what work they were missing. We made sure they knew which assignments and how to revise or complete them so that they could turn them in before all work is due Friday.
One of the reasons I initially flipped my class was so that I could do stuff like that - talk to every kid, every period, every day. And lately, that doesn't always happen. I am often talking to the same kids over and over to either keep them on task or answer their thousand-and-one questions, and today reminded me of how good it is to really spend 1:1 time with all of my students. Additionally, their level of self-direction and focus was fantastic - I didn't have to redirect a single student the entire period.
After about 45 minutes of that, I announced that I had the winners of the Battle of the Hominids project. Lindsay Cole and her AP Biology class watched all of the videos my students made and scored them based on the scientific content and artistic merit. They chose the video of each Hominid group (four groups each on Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, and Homo Neanderthals) that best showed how that Hominid lived.
Unsurprisingly to me, 1st period swept all the categories. There was far more time and energy put into the scripts and far more functional groups than in the afternoon section. Now, my afternoon students tend to be better divergent thinkers and are more adept with technology, but their morning peers have them beat in level of determination and drive.
The coolest thing about giving them their results was that the winners were incredibly excited (they did a drumroll leading up the announcement) and actually did the jumping-out-of-their-seat-can't-contain-it celebration. But the other group that didn't win also had a cool reaction - they started yelling "I FAILED!!!" and suddenly it was a giant celebration of both success and failure all in one. I wish I had it on film, because it was one of the most amazing things I've seen in my classroom.
It reminds me that students don't have to be grade-obsessed. And that real feedback from a real audience makes a difference.
Finally, we ended the period with me sending them their feedback from Lindsay's kids. They had a few questions, but really felt like it was a fair assessment of what they did.
Then I had my prep period, which I spent answering parent emails mostly, and entering grades. With the end of the trimester rapidly approaching, I have a ton to catch up on. I have a few major writing assignments that I haven't looked at fully, and I still have some projects to finish scoring.
After that we had 7th period, so we repeated the morning class: mindfulness, Language Mastery #17, and verb highlighting and replacing. They are also showing an incredible shift after doing mindfulness practice. It's helping them calm the monsters a little, and giving them a little more mental space for school.
I also did 1:1 check-ins with them, though I only got to half the class because they just took longer due to more outstanding assignments per student in this section. They also weren't too disappointed with their loss in the Hominid project. Most probably expected a lower score than they got, honestly.
After class, we had lunch. I had a few students check in and a teacher want to talk to me about a student, so I barely had my lunch heated when the bell for advisory rang. I rounded up the kids, took attendance, and sent them down to the gym for an assembly on water conservation. An assembly, as it happens, that they've seen every year for the last five years. They knew all the songs and games and had an easier time following it than I did. The other teachers around me kept looking at me like, "Is this like the teacher in Charlie Brown to you too?" The sound was weirdly distorted, and they talked so quickly that I couldn't make out what they were saying. It also didn't seem to have much of a point to it.
But it's good for the kids to learn about water conservation when we're in such an extreme drought, so I'm sure it all balances out.
After the kids got their belongings from my room, they scattered and went home. The teachers on the other hand were rounded up and had a meeting about our school vision and our portfolios. Debating the word choice in an elaborate vision is difficult at the best of times, but especially after a day of teaching and a very loud and very confusing assembly.
But as per usual, the time I spent with colleagues was fantastic. At my table were one of the job-alike Core teachers with whom I work closely, my next-door neighbour the Spanish teacher, and the orchestra teacher. We talked about a lot of stuff, both related and unrelated to the task at hand, and I got to show them Kaizena and Movenote, which led to showing them my document management system through Autocrat.
Conversations like that one are why I love EdCamp - getting to do the PD YOU want and need is incredibly powerful. So is having time to learn from your colleagues and find new ways to do things.
After the two-hour meeting, I still had some parent emails to return and some planning to do for tomorrow. But at least I got mostly caught up on grading. At least until the next assignment comes in.