Monday, August 20, 2007

A delightful day

Yes, today was delightful! The minutes passed swiftly and then the last bell of the day rang and it was all over.

Thank you all so much for your kind comments about the schoolroom and your prayer coverage. Undoubtedly, your prayers sweetened the day.

My lesson plans for this week were due on Friday, so I did have a viable plan. In fact, my lesson plans were detailed for the next few weeks, and my aim is to continue that pace. My three classes are sixth grade English (grammar, writing, spelling, vocabulary, literature) and New World history. The school is still using Abeka material for the sixth grade, but they are open to making changes for next year. Because my sixth grade class is the largest in the school with sixteen students, the ability range is wide. Instead of dividing the class into two, the administration asked me if I would be open to leaving the class together if I got an extra class period. So, from 8:30 until 11:00, I teach English and history. We are not constrained by bell breaks and are free to carve out the time we need for both classes.

Today's emphasis was on the syllabus and classroom rules. Once a week the students will take home a folder with their graded work of the week for the parents to sign. It is one way to keep the parents involved and aware of their child's study. Plus, the student will often think twice when he knows his parents are going to see those papers. Children do need to learn responsibility, but at sixth grade, many are still gangly in their ability to be responsible with their work. And, parents are paying thousands of dollars to have their child educated at this school. They need to see what their money is getting.

The children seemed eager and engaged today. I intended some reading for English, but going over the syllabus took longer than expected. They had been sitting for a while, so to transition to history, I had them stand beside their seats and stretch and walk in place. Think Leslie Sansone walking. Yep. For five minutes. The guys loved it. On a regular day, this is the time for bathroom breaks and a snack. I was plain to the kids, and to the parents through the syllabus that they must sign tonight and send back, what were acceptable snacks: fruit, peanut butter and crackers, cheese and crackers, milk and water. Unacceptable snacks are potato chips and candy, and cookies. I didn't say anything about those nasty little juice boxes, and I just know I'm going to see those every morning about 10 o'clock. I got on a little soapbox about nutrition and some of the kids honestly did not have any idea about what is good or bad.

Then we started history. My way of planning is do not follow the textbook. (grin) The only way to teach history is chronologically and Abeka is not set up that way. Sooooooo, we started with the basic of geography: landforms. For three days we will work on landforms through definition writing, making a flipbook, and playing Landform Memory, a neat little picture game like the traditional Memory game. I found a batch of landform memory cards someone had created and posted online to print. The ones that were not included in that one, I made up.

After landforms this week, we will move to directional and navigational geography in preparation for studying the explorers and then finally getting to the textbook for the West Indies, Middle and South America.

I hope to use history topics for most of our English writing instruction. Walter: The Story of a Rat starts tomorrow with the kids doing daily written narrations through the story. The Hobbit is waiting in the wings to emerge late next week or the following.

So goes the sixth grade.

Following these three periods, I have lunch at 11:00 and then a study hall with three seventh graders in it. Next is eighth grade World Studies with twelve students. After going over the syllabus, I introduced them to what world studies really is --- a mixed study of culture, geography, and history. The prologue of the book compares World Studies to a play which brought to mind Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" line in As You Like It. Can you guess what the first assignment was? Memorize the five lines. And I created a memory learning strategy to help them.

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."

What perfect content! And they will have those lines embedded in their little minds for the rest of their seven ages!

Since I thought I should have those lines hanging in my room, during my planning period, I typed them up in a neat font, made a transparency, and quickly used a marker to copy from the overhead onto a bright sheet of yellow posterboard. An assignment for Wednesday will be for them to bring in large magazine pictures for the different seven ages of man (baby through old age) and I will make a border with these pictures around the Shakespeare lines.

Tomorrow I lecture on culture and they take notes, followed by a homework crossword on the aspects of culture.

After World Studies, my student have study hall. With me. Plus a couple of other students. Then a planning periods rounds out the day.

My schedule is wonderful. I couldn't have asked for a better one. I don't know why the newbie on the block ended up with such a nice schedule, but I'm not complaining. And to top it off, I never have to change rooms.

I am completely satisfied right now. But it's only the end of the first day. Things will undoubtedly change in two months. But right now, I couldn't be happier.

By the way, one of my sixth graders is from Ukraine and has been in the US for two years. One of my eighth graders just arrived from Jamaica two weeks ago. What a time for her to start a new school with no friends considering Hurricane Dean that blew across the island over the weekend. She still have family and friends there. I've got the only international students.

And we heard today that a girl from Korea will be starting this week. Wouldn't that be a hoot if she ends up in one of my classes.

My soft bed is awaiting my tired legs and feet. Thanks for joining this virtual journey into this new season!


DebD said...

Ahh, the first days of school. Sounds lovely. My middle dd's school also sent home a folder once a week. It was very nice to keep up with what was going on between parent/teacher meetings.

Cool that your school is "going international" LOL. Hope you had a restful night of sleep and your feet are ready for a 2nd day.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

You crossed my mind yesterday and I sent out a "prayer" while at work!

So glad to hear it went well. :)

Dana said...

So glad that the first day went well! I loved your classroom by the way.
Hope the rest of the week goes just as smoothly.

Carol in Oregon said...

Oh, I adore your organizational skills. You know what you want to accomplish and have a plan.

This sounds wonderful. Simply wonderful.

Hillcrest Classical said...

It sounds like your first day went very well! I'm so very happy for you! The pictures of your schoolroom in your previous post made me want to go back to 6th grade and sit in your classroom!

By the way, we just finished watching "To Serve Them All My Days" and really enjoyed it! Thanks for the recommendation.

Kathleen Hamilton said...

Janie, your day sounds simply wonderful. I am amazed at your organizational skills, too!

Dana said...

checking in on you at the end of this first week.........

Hope your energy level stays steady.