Friday, November 2, 2012

Building empires, debunkig stereotypes, and playing with words

First quarter is officially over.

And man has it just flown by.

Mostly because in the past 11 weeks, I have not had one single behavior problem in class or a rude parent breathing fire down my back or admins spreading the message loud and clear that you're on your own.

I walk into a classroom full of happy, respectful kids. I hear from grateful parents. I see smiling admins who call me "Miss Jackie."

What a contrast.

This weekend, due to that weird time between two quarters, I'm buried under a mound of grading: travel brochures, social commentaries, reading responses, etc.

But here's the thing: I kinda like it.

Shhhh.... don't tell.

You see, my kids work waaaaay harder than I do so I don't mind spending my free time really looking at what they've done, admiring it and critiquing it and acknowledged their efforts.

So far, in the past 11 weeks, we've:
  • Looked at words like they're artwork, crafting sentences and scenes that smack readers in the face or pull on their heart strings and make them feel something, anything... because, really, isn't that the whole point of writing
  • Crafted personal narratives of these small, powerful moments with evocative imagery and themes and learned there is reward in taking risks
  • Confronted racism and sexism and ageism and wealth inequality by reading Of Mice and Men and then wrote our own social commentaries about things that irk us or inspire us
  • Read creepy Roald Dahl stories in the dark about crazy old ladies who kill people and stuff them and studied mood and setting and clues and red herrings and then slept with the light on for a week and then strove to write something that would affect our audience in such a powerful way too
  • Beat the odds and survived in the Alaskan bush with Gary Paulsen and learned about conflict and motivation and then analyzed our own personal conflicts and motivations and learned some pretty important things about ourselves while at it
  • Argued loudly and heatedly and passionately about artificial intelligence after reading Flowers for Algernon and learned to look at both sides of the story before jumping on the bandwagon
  • Studied Middle Eastern culture and debunked stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and this little-understood corner of the world
  • Built empires after studying maps and religion and government and terrain and learned to anticipate problems and solve them before they even turn into a problem

I can't wait to see what we can accomplish in the next three quarters!


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