In order to create an environment where meaningful discussion of literature can occur in a class of 38, I decided to develop a plan to group the students into three groups. Over the course of three days and three different discussions, students would either have the discussion, observe and analyze with the IB rubric discussion, or independently have the discussion, and then report back to me. Each group of students gets to do each of the discussion assignments, all over the course of three days.
This made sense to me, but it was a logistical nightmare to explain. In 8th period, though, the explanation went fine yesterday. However, the period after, in 9th period, was 48 minutes of pure confusion. First, I explained it in a way that only me and the Asian girl understood. Then, I explained it in a way where everyone except for me understood. Then, I noticed students totally turned off from my explanation, as I struggled to get all the logistics correct for each group of students, as they patiently - or not so patiently - waited for me to explain it in a way that made sense. It took nearly the entire period.
However, today it was totally worth it. Thirteen kids went next door, into an empty classroom, and had their discussion alone; the two times I snuck up on them, they were conducting themselves excellently, and seemed to be really digging into the material. Their reporting sheets reflected this. Meanwhile, twelve students were in the middle circle in the classroom, discussing the topics (the scientific ethics of Frankenstein, then the relationship between God and man compared with the relationship between creature and creator in the novel) with analytic depth that, at times, gave me goosebumps. The other eleven kids were in the outside circle, not involved, but analyzing different aspects of the discussion according to the IB rubric. Tomorrow and the next day, the groups will rotate, and will engage in different discussions (Is Frankenstein a radical text or a conservative text? Is Frankenstein a feminist text?).
So, it appears I have found a solution to my huge class sizes - just send a third of the kids away. Then, I have a class of 24, and things begin to feel normal again.
Strange day today. Snow, but no closure or delay, despite the fact that nearly every other county around the area was closed. Roads were pretty bad in the morning and attendance was poor, particularly early (six kids showed up in my first period at first). I struggled all day whether to have some sort of baseball practice, even an instructional film, but the decision was made for me late in the day, when BCPSS cancelled all after-school activities. This was best, probably - the snow wasn't abating by the point, and kids getting home safely was probably more important than watching Cal and Bill Ripken discuss baseball tips on DVD. I took advantage of probably the only day without practice of some sort until May, leaving school at around 4pm, came home and packed some. I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Five Days Left - I was going to give Takashi Miike‘s Straw Shield (Wara No Tate) a try, but a colleague told me it wasn’t reviewed all that favorably when it opened last mo...
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