Saturday, December 01, 2012

Surprises

On a whim, I clinked on my blog's dashboard bookmark. Not to write anything, just to do it and fully expecting to see the sign that tells me I have to sign out of all school apps. Well, upon the click, my dashboard comes up! Then I check my school email in another tab and find it is up at the same time. So, it looks like all this is now open and accessible to me. Besides finding the time to do so, blogging will now be easier for me. 

Now that I've accessed it, I should really say something. What have I been doing this week? What haven't I been doing?!  My seventh and eighth grade English classes are reading "A Christmas Carol" in preparation for our field trip on Friday to the play. We listen to the audio, which is absolutely delightful!, answer questions, and learn vocabulary. Getting this field trip together for forty people is a job in itself! 

Then in my eighth grade history, I realized when I gave a chapter test this week that the topic of the Spanish-American War was next. I knew that my current book gave this war a passing glance, and I wanted to do more. So, on the spur of the moment, literally while they were taking this test, I gathered together my material from last year's U.S. history class, assembled it and sent notes to the printer, and gave the assignment to begin this four-day study of this little-known war. Again, teaching by the seat of my pants!

My sixth grade history class finished their chapter on Richard the Lionhearted, and, again, I thought they're ahead on schedule, so for two weeks, I'll take them on a deeper study of the Crusades. After their test, we read the first chapter from The Story of Liberty aloud. It was on John Lackland and the signing of the Magna Carta. While reading and enjoying the delgihtful pictures, I realized I was there this very summer! I knew that the Magna Carta was signed on the meadow at Runnymeade, but I really had never thought where Runnymeade was. Or is. It is by the River Thames at Windsor Castle. To think that our guide said nothing, absolutely nothing, of this magnificent event occurring right where we were floored me. Now I want to go back and do it over! But for now with my sixth graders, I will have to come up with my two-week plans for this study. I had planned to have an eight- to-ten-day study, upon our return after Christmas break, of the development of the church in Europe in the Middle Ages. I have already developed lessons for church music and cathedral architecture but still need to tweak and refine.

My World History I: Ancient class finished the pharaohs of Egypt and began the Assyrians and Persians, while the World II: Medieval class tested on Medieval Africa and is set to begin a quick run through Medieval Southeast Asia. Today I spent a good chunk of the day grading papers (you know, test formation, typing, giving, and grading is just like preparing a company dinner), and I was pleased with the outcome. Besides text material, I teach geography along with the history. In my opinion, geography is the landscape upon which history comes alive. I expected the students to learn all forty-nine African countries, and with daily ten-minute map drills on the overhead, the most of the students rose to the occasion and learned all forty-nine!

As much work as my job makes for me and I make for myself, I fully think that it is my way of lifelong learning. I have to get the material ready, which means I have to prepare myself and sometimes not a well as I wish. I recently said that if I were not teaching, I would not be learning as much as I am. My schedule, though, is too heavy, but at least I'm learning. More so than if I were left to my own schedule. 

Now, on to next week's plans. 

3 comments:

LoriM said...

Our lives are so similar! Add shopping for odd materials for experiments and preparing for math competitions and science fair, and you have my life. :-)

Sherry said...

Janie, I saw your not at Carol"s (Magistramater) and if I can horn in I have a few suggestions for your high school students on Africa. This is part of a list I made for a homeschooling friend who is teaching a year long unit to her high schoolers in which they are "traveling" around the world:


21. North Africa and the Sahara: The Shadow of Ghadames by Joelle Stolz
Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold by Michael Benanav.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.
The Bible or the Axe by William O. Levi.*

22. Nigeria and West Africa: Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney.

23. Central Africa: The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder.

24. Kenya and East Africa: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
What Is the What by Dave Eggers.
Laugh With the Moon by Shana Burg

25. South Africa: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton.
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

JSD said...

Yes, Lori! Do you ever feel like you are working harder now than when you were homeschooling?

Sherry! Thank you! I knew I had seen books about Africa somewhere, and after Carol's comment, I thought it was there. But now I know I saw it at Semicolon. I am going to come back and copy the Semicolon lists over break. Thanks so much!

And, the friend who is "traveling" around the world through books, I'd love to see a list. As I develop these upper school history classes, one of my intentions is to find readable books for the students to read from as part of their requirement. So that list could be quite helpful.