Autumn brings such lovely contradictions between the world outside and the world inside our classroom. Temperatures and leaves may be falling outside, but in our classroom students are just taking root, beginning to blossom. As daylight diminishes, we find increasing light and warmth inside as we get to know our bright students. It is our privilege to teach such a wonderful group this year!
This fall, our LA students are lucky enough to have TWO teachers, as Ms. Krushlin, our WMU intern, joins us for first semester. She has already contributed innovative ideas for instruction as well as lessons that are engaging, meaningful, and fun! Ms. Krushlin, whose major is English and minor is Spanish, will graduate in December. Last summer, she studied abroad in Costa Rica. She loves to read, eat breakfast, design creative art projects, spend time with her family and friends, and play volleyball for fun!
In the first three weeks of 8th grade Language Arts, we have composed a letter, read two short stories, learned two reading "signposts", written an in-class essay, read at least 140 pages of independent reading, learned a vocabulary list, interviewed our parents, reviewed literary elements, and written five Writer's Notebook pieces. We've been busy! Since seventh grade, I already see much growth in responsibility, and in budding writing and reading skills that will carry us into the increasing complexity of eighth grade material.
This year, we aim to both challenge and engage our kids -- to help them see how learning specific language arts skills can help them realize their dreams and make a difference in the world. So, our students should be able to explain why they're learning a skill, and how that skill will help them achieve an important end goal. We want our end goals to have real value for kids, from entering writing contests and giving presentations to larger audiences to communicating with students from other schools or grades.
So, let the leaves fall and bring on the late autumn frost. Here in 8th grade Language Arts, we're warmed up and blooming!
Yikes! It's already August! If you are reading this, you are probably curious about school next year. And hey, you ARE READING! Fantastic! What will 8th grade be like? How will things be different? What will feel the same? While I'm still enjoying SUMMER, part of me is starting to think about school too, and getting excited about teaching and learning with YOU :)
At the end of last year, I asked my students to recommend their FAVORITE books. I'm including some of their picks in my own summer reading. The dystopian romance novels Matched and Crossed by Ally Condie (similar to The Hunger Games in flavor) were addictive. Besides wondering which guy (Xander or Ky) Cassia ends up with, I was left thinking about what people are willing to sacrifice for freedom. I'm saving the last book in the series, Reached, for "dessert" later. Right now I'm starting Steve Sheinkin's historical novel The Notorious Benedict Arnold. Since American history is the cool feature next year in Social Studies, I knew this book would introduce me to one of the most interesting, infamous villains during the Revolutionary War. What made people call Benedict Arnold brave and great, but also dangerous and a traitor?
Between playing euchre with my family and collecting beach glass, I've also read...
*online recipes for making dill pickles and blueberry sauce (I don't eat them together :)
*websites about kayaking (and then kayaked on Lake Michigan for the first time!)
*newspaper articles about events in Kalamazoo, Mattawan, South Haven, and the world
*two excellent books about teaching reading
*lots of funny gift shop greeting cards
My advice to you (I know, you didn't ask) is simply to read this summer. Read what interests you. Books. Websites. Blogs. Instructions. Poems. News articles. Magazines. Recipes.
Read, relax, enjoy your family and friends! I'll see you at Open House!