Friday, September 16, 2011

The end of next week...

Well here we are at the end of the next week.  And how am I feeling?  It's always such a mix of feelings.  When I was trying to juggle grade six and seven math today I was feeling a little overwhelmed!  But when Barry who seemed always to be in trouble last year told me he had a great week I felt really good.

I have to say I love having grade six students again.  I just love that age level.  Actually my grade sevens are lovely as well, but there is just something about grade six students...  And this is a very "cute" group.  I don't have many academic shining stars like I did last year, but we do have a whole year together to work on that!  It's also a situation of going from students at the end of Grade Seven to the beginning of Grade Six and Seven.  I found I had to slow things down and remember to teach the "basics'.  I spent quite a bit of time on how to organize work.  I had to help a few learn to use their new compasses to draw circles.  I was struck by how unartistic and "messy" many of them were but I could see improvements even by the end of the first week.  In my room, neatness counts!  Except for the teacher, of course!

I also like to have something to pin the beginning of the year on.  Last year having just returned from a great trip to Newfoundland and beginning the year in science with geology, we started with a unit on "The Rock".  This year I picked the anniversary of 911.  It occurred ten years ago when my students were only toddlers.  Most of them didn't know much except having a vague awareness of Bin Laden, so we did some rather intense work.  Initially I had them watch a video of the events of 9/11 from CNN.  Then we used print and online materials from this month's edition of What in the World News4Youth.   They watched the September 11 Brain Pop and took the quiz. I read the book 14 Cows for America, a wonderful picture book based on a true story of how a young Masai graduate student returned to his village in Kenya to tell a tragic story and have a gift blessed and what happened next.   I searched materials from the New York Times for teachers, and had the students view and comment on these incredible photographs. Over the weekend most of them had watched some of the programming on TV about 911 ten years later.  Thursday,  I had them write down important facts that they had learned, and we were all impressed by how much more they had learned in a week.

Yesterday I read them the first chapter of We All Fall Down by Eric Wilson.  This is the story of a boy who goes to work with his dad at the Twin Towers on September 11.  We had a good discussion of foreshadowing.

I think it's hard for our students now to really imagine a world before 911.  For instance, I can still remember being in Washington National Airport a few months before 911 and people greeting passengers coming off the plane as soon as we landed.  That certainly doesn't happen anymore!

As you can see this is a constantly evolving unit.  As I write I think what next.  One thing is  I am sure my students will be performing the beautiful poem, Voices, by Sonia Sones at our Remembrance Day Assembly.  I found this poem in the great book, 911 The Book of Help.  And when I searched for this link I found Jamie Adoff's beautiful poem.  Hmmmm....

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