Thursday, October 30, 2008

6th Period Freshman English: Shakespeare's Words, Day 1 Romeo and Juliet

Students come into this class already quite rowdy from lunch, and it’s hard to get them to initially settle down. I’ve tried passing out an assignment at the door and found that doesn’t usually help much, so today I wanted to first focus on putting students in a new seating chart. I thought they did a pretty decent job getting into their assigned seats, but as with each time I rearrange this class, I find new problems I didn’t know existed. For example, I haven’t found a good place for Charles to sit yet. Now that he’s next to Zane, the two of them won’t stop talking to each other. He’s also bugging Kahreana. Donald was pretty adamant about not wanting to sit on the other side of the room, and Tori seemed to feel the same way, so that was one of the more difficult transitions. Furthermore, when 4 students arrive late to class, it only disrupts the entire process, and I then have to refocus my efforts there.

It took way too long for students to stop talking and focus on the writing for the warm up. Some students never even wrote anything, if not more than a sentence at all. I felt like they’ve been trained to shout answers at me, and that’s my fault. So, today I tried to get them in the habit of speaking one at a time in class, instead of speaking up whenever the feeling so moves them. J As you said, it takes two weeks to learn anything new in class, so we’ll see how this goes. Students kept talking and giving me productive things that added to the discussion about their warm up, but I wanted hands raised, so I reminded them of that quite a bit.

The KWL chart was an interesting activity, as many of the students didn’t write everything they knew. In fact, as is true to form, the 5th period students did A LOT better with this activity, so I found it frustrating to see so many of those charts barely touched or written on. I did, however, feel like the discussion about the charts went rather well. Students had a lot of good questions about Shakespeare and the play. They seem to be truly interested, and I can easily see how Romeo and Juliet truly resonates so well with this age group.
During the lecture, while there was still a lot of talking, I saw quite a bit of genuine interest in what we were talking about. I like that PowerPoint quite a bit, and think the students found it interesting, too. Toward the end of it, it seemed like they’d had enough and it felt like it was dragging a bit and getting too loud.

To that end, the next activity was rough. I told students I’d give them 10 minutes to come up with 2 words, and when not very many of them were working on the assignment, I took half that time away. That was, in my opinion, the most difficult transition. Students use the excuse of, “But this is homework”, and it doesn’t work for me! I hit this point earlier in the class than I did with fifth period, so that’s why I included starting on words and sharing them aloud. I thought students did better when we started sharing words. I also understand that many of the students didn’t come up with a word in class because the environment was so chaotic.

Transitioning from the new words discussion to getting the Holt readers went better. By giving them exactly one minute to get their book, it seemed like a good motivator, almost like students were in a race. They got the job done a lot faster than I’ve seen before.

Finally, reading through the Holt textbooks went pretty well once they got settled back in their seats. I appreciate having students volunteer to read out loud in class. They seemed interested in what we were reading about, and most students seemed to truly follow along with what we were reading.