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15 August 2008

New School Year Preview (Part 1) - Why My Kids Will Hate Me

Yes, first workday is Monday. Sigh.

Well, might as well jump in the mud and get going from the start, which is what my kids are going to have to do. Partially because I'm brainwashed from my Writing Project experience of the summer, and partly because I was veering this way by the end of last semester anyway, I can proudly declare why my students will hate me this year:

They are going to write their asses off, more than ever! First, I'm incorporating a modified writer's workshop into my classes, where we will spend at least two days a week on nothing but writing and conferencing, and by the end of each quarter the students will be responsible for having finished several pieces of writing in a variety of forms. Many of the deadlines will be open-ended up to the report card deadline, which means self-discipline will be a premium quality. Those who wait until the last minute to do things (and we all know there will be several) will hear me say, "Ooops, too bad. I had plenty of time to help you the last eight weeks, but precious little now. Looks bad for you."

Also, continuing what I started to do last semester, I'm making all tests written tests, in one way or another. As I tell the kids, "Written tests, once I've told you what's expected on them, actually give you a better chance to show what you've learned. You are actually more in control of your grade than ever before." This not only forces the kids to think more, and in a higher-level fashion, but I am happy to reward effort, and I don't have to worry about cheating or guessing. And believe it or not, written tests are actually not that hard to grade when a rubric has been set up ahead of time.

So, we will write, write, write, and as much as possible, I will write alongside the little urchins in an act of solidarity against their outrageously unfair teacher.

Sound schizophrenic enough?

4 comments:

holly said...

Good luck. I teach Freshman Composition, and on the first or second day (depending on if it's a TTh or MWF class), I make my kids write me a sample essay. They hate it, but it shows me how much work I'm going to have before the first paper comes in.

School Master P said...

Thanks, Holly, and good luck to you as well! I'll do the same the first week, and then the dilemma I'll have is how to introduce 2-3 major writing assignments fairly quickly to get them rolling for the writing workshop I'm trying. Part of the rationale there is to let them work at their own pace so I'm not overwhelmed by one deadline, but give enough work so they will stay productive each week and not try the "I'm finished" excuse (though I know they aren't, at least not quality-wise!)

I love the title of your blog - I get it, though I'll admit to not having read Huxley yet (just about him). I did, however, pick up a tattered "Brave New World" from a discard cart last year, so my excuses for not doing so are dwindling.

Anyway, I've got you on my RSS Feeder site now. Go forth and annoy your freshmen!

holly said...

I'm glad you like my blog title. I only set it up last Sunday. I'd planned on doing a bit more with education and culture, but the news recently has reminded me of the bad old days I barely remember (I wasn't even *quite* in high school when the Berlin Wall came down).

I tend to introduce a new writing assignment every couple of weeks. I only have my kids for 16, so I have to get them through *a lot* very quickly. I suppose you have at least a tad more leisure.

What types of assignments were you planning on having them do?

School Master P said...

Well, our exam schedule takes so long to get through (due to state testing procedures), that we only end up with roughly 18 weeks of real class time. By the calendar, it should be 20 weeks, but you know how that goes.

Since we have a 10th grade writing test, some of my assignments have to be extended definition and cause/effect, but I'm adding memoir, restaurant review, editorial/speech, literary critique, poetry, and at least one writing of their chioce. Plus, we have a standard, short research paper in 10th grade.