"I could go through this whole book, page by page, and tell you what I noticed and inferred, but that's not going to help you be a better reader, will it? So, right now, turn to your partner and share your text-marking you did last night in your reading."
And, with that, I was off, walking around the room, listening to the kids talk, and finally feeling good about this class of 30 (18 boys and 12 girls) that I teach in the afternoon. I'm hearing ideas flying around, and some clarification points addressed, and it's exactly what I want to hear: conversations abotu reading. I was struggling with the class until I started doing the gender math. The fact that this class was full of boys -- who I usually do well with -- made me put the blame squarely back on myself. I can teach male students, I knew it.
We're reading Fahrenheit 451, a difficult text, but I got so excited about the prospect of teaching it (the book burning stuff? it's an English teacher's dream) that I greenlit it for the curriculum. And I think it will work. It's preachy at times, and a lot of it is internal, but we're going slow and, of course, I'm instituting as much scaffolding as I think is necessary. Today, we worked on the 'Ladder of Questions' (culled from a Pre-AP Vertical Teams Guide I got a few years back), and, if all goes well, they'll come in with Literal, Interpretive, and Experience-Based questions on Thursday, and use that to drive discussion.
We have a new principal this year, and she's made it a goal of our school to have more inquiry-based teaching. Less teacher-focused, more kid-focused. I was never a lecturer, or anything like that, but, still, this year, I'm making a more-conscious effort to empower the kids in their learning as much as I can. It's sometimes a tough task because they like to be silly (oh, those 9th graders), but on days like today, I feel really good about it.
I'm really excited about things happening in my classroom this year. As I am every year, I bet. But hopefully I'll blog again a little bit more. I like the reflection that comes from this public unspooling of my day.
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