i teach

This week has reminded me why I love teaching-- the good the bad and the ugly-- i enjoy it all!

We have been doing a type of "writer's workshop" this week, where the students write a piece, and then we do mini lessons every day that they then are able to go back and apply to their writing. At the end of the week we type it up, and highlight where all of the strategies we learned were applied. It works surprisingly well because they can SEE how their writing changed throughout the week...and they love highlighters. (Easily impressed).

For those of you that are already yawning just listening to what we did and thinking, "Man I hated Language Arts' classes!" Here were a couple lessons that I absolutely LOVE doing with my students.

Tuesday was the day we focused on the 5 steps of the writing process: Pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. I tell the kids I am going to give them an analogy of the writing process, and tell them that for my pre-write I need to gather my supplies. I start pulling out ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and strawberry syrup, and sprinkles. Their eyes widen and I have their undivided attention if for no other moment during the entire school year! I proceed, comparing the drafting stage to actually putting my sundae together, revision, removing strawberry syrup, adding sprinkles, and moving around the whipped cream, then move to editing: I clean up the mess (spelling, punctuation etc....), and then I ask them: "So if the next step is publishing, what will come next in my analogy?" Most kids say "You eat it!" and I ask, "If I wrote a book and am the only one to read it, is that publishing...?" And then their eyes light up: "YOU HAVE TO SHARE IT WITH US!" So I dished up 110 bowls of ice cream on Tuesday as they worked on creating their own analogies. The beautiful part is that they GET IT! And for the rest of the year they can all repeat the steps of the writing process and apply it to their own writing! Awesome.

Another fun lesson from this week is my "show don't tell" lesson. Most of you probably vaguely remember that phrase from your writing classes, but may not exactly know what it means. What I do for this brief 10 minute lesson is walk out of the classroom, and after about a minute storm back in and act completely mad. I yell, I slam papers and markers and the kids all look completely petrified. They have no clue what to do with themselves and they are dead silent. During this time I pass out papers and finally I start laughing and let them know it is all part of the lesson. They all give huge sighs of relief and then I ask them to write down descriptions about me when I came in the room. I tell them not to write "She was angry" but to say exactly what I did that made them know I was angry. After about a minute, we write a paragraph as a class that SHOWS how I was angry: "Mrs. Irwin stormed into the room, barking out commands like a drill sergeant, smoke billowing from her ears. She smacked down papers in front of the innocent children quivering with fear as she stalked around the room like a disgruntled bear and even the air was afraid of her fire-breathing presence. Her scrunched up nose and beady red eyes made her look like the devil himself." (This was an actual paragraph they wrote! As much as I hate the descriptions, it is incredible writing!) I then write: "Mrs. Irwin came in the room and was angry and I was scared." I ask them which one gives them a better picture, and "SHOWS" them what was happening. They have a lot of fun with it, and are able to return to their own writing and write some awesome showing scenes.

This wasn't much of an update or really anything special, but it is a glimpse into my never boring life as a middle school teacher! Here is a poem by David Puckett entitled "Middle School Learning Is..." that I think is relevant to this post:

Middle school learning is...

gum hiding
pencil breaking
toe tapping
hair tossing
seat squirming
pocket searching
make-up checking
window watching
note writing
mind changing
note crumpling
allegiance shifting
girl dreaming
boy dreaming
day dreaming

Middle school teaching is...

aiming the learning gun
at a moving target.

in the past of every successful human being
stands a middles school teacher
with a
smoking gun.


Joan said...

Awesome writing, awesome teacher, awesome daughter in law.
Love Joan

*carrie* said...

Great ideas, Kelsey. The ice cream analogy is brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Oh how I love to read your writing, Kelsey! Thanks for giving us all a chance to be "there" with you in Kentucky!

Hugs from Trish S. :)

Ana-Lou said...

Where were you when I was in middle school? ;-) I would have fallen in love with English!

Keep up the great work Kelsey!