I was going to tell the whole story about how my KBAR program came to be (the granddaughter of the inventer of the name is in my class this year), but since it’s Wednesday and it’s ten minutes until eight, I’ll save the back-story for later and get right down to the nitty-gritty, as someone used to say sometime.

Here’s a short version of how I deal with reading the responses and checking the charts. I ass-u-me (seventh graders love that one) that you have already familiarized yourself with the KBAR concept. What? Fine. Click the link. Then read the rest. I’ll be back, as our former governor used to say. This is from July, 2009’s mailbag.

What is your experience with doing the KBAR notebook? I have found that during my student teaching, the students rarely turned in homework if I wasn’t checking it (worksheets or whatever) at the end of every week. Also, is it used just for KBAR work at home? I’m nervous about leaving them to do something at home on a notebook (that many of my students wouldn’t buy since it’s 75% free/reduced lunch). Any alternatives to that issue?

During the first week of doing KBAR, I check daily, just to make sure they get it. The responding is the hardest part, but they also need practice with the bookkeeping and paperwork. I make sure I have a longish warmup  every day that week, so that I have time to circulate and read them live. I call out good lines, and emphasize the avoidance of summarizing, and I keep reminding them of the rubric. After some practice, you can read and comment on most of them during a 10-15 minute warm up. And if you don’t quite finish, you can always double up the next day.  After that initial KBAR week, I have them respond 1 page per week, due on Friday. Since I always have a test on Friday, I can read the pages (and check their charts) while they take the test. The key to KBAR is the responding, so it’s worth the time to talk to the kids live as you read them, and read/show lots of examples.

I have them use the spiral notebook for all non-writing classwork and all KBAR. They have to have a title and a date on everything they do, and everything -warm ups, vocabulary definitions, KBAR charts and responding, spelling pretests – that isn’t writing goes into the spiral. For kids that say they can’t afford anotebook, watch the ads at Staples and suchlike. You can get a truckload for less than .25 apiece, and you can either resell them or give them away.

I don’t let them put anything but English in it, and I get all crabby when they do the above types of work, and it’s not in the notebook.

See you tomorrow.