Maybe I could get used to this. Maybe.

Posted on April 8, 2010Filed Under fruitbooting, Snow, vacation, Video, Writing | 4 Comments

I voted against the two-week spring break schedule. The union put it to a vote last year, and the two-week break won out 51-49%. I liked starting later in the fall, and spring around these parts is pretty windy, while fall is postcard weather. And it puts a big Christmas-like hole in the middle of whatever you’re doing this time of year. Etc.

Right now though, it’s looking pretty good. I just realized that we’re eight days into April, and I haven’t worked a lick this month, and then some. I’ve been sleeping in every day, and even managed a couple of days of skiing. It was the first time in 12+ years, and I rented a pair of those short dog snow skates, 99cm, the better to imitate my fruitbooting experience, and didn’t crash…much. The weather was beauty, the snow was fresh, and everybody else was back at school, so the place was empty. I’m actually a bit tattered because I got so many runs in, and sunburned. So maybe next year I vote yes…?

Obviously I’ve been lagging. That’s the problem with this two week break thing; you forget how much you think you’re going to do but don’t actually get to because it’s not as long as you thought. Besides this blog, here’s what else I’m lagging on because I figured that two weeks was an eternity to get a few things done (HA):

1. Reading/grading their district writing assessments. “Write a well-organized essay where you show how the story ‘Thank You M’am’ by Langston Hughes illustrates the importance of trust. Be sure to include example from the story to back up what you say.” Grade that on your 1-4 rubric. I left this for the sub to hand out/collect on the last day before the break, because I had a gig the night before, and didn’t want to get up the next morning. Now I gotta read them. I don’t think I will tell you you how long I spend on each one. That’s a proprietary secret.

2. Reading/deciding what to do with their “Pages.” Some years I keep them, and don’t give them back…yet. I tell them to come back next year when they’re in 8th grade. Then I’ll give them back so they can see what they thought was important way back in 7th grade. I stole this idea from a now-retired colleague who taught 8th grade for years. She made them write a letter to themselves about what was important to them, put it in an envelope and seal it and address it to themselves. She would then collect and keep them until they were seniors in high school, whereupon she would mail them all out (at district expense in those days). I still remember the boxes stacked all over her room with dates on them. Obviously four years would be a bit much for me.  When I do this, only a handful of kids come back for their pages. But most of those are stoked that they did. Some years I give them back on the last day of school to put in the yearbook. Some years, I even grade them. Usually I just correct mechanics and tell them to send the revised version to Grandma.

3. Modifying/narrowing the curriculum for the video production class we’re trying to add to the seventh grade elective rotation. They have a full-blown video class with professional equipment and a custom-built studio out at the other middle school in our district. The guy there worked for years, and fought many a battle with our IST department to get his program to where it is now. He did all the heavy lifting and wrote a beauty curriculum and everything. Our school has access to enough money from our cable franchise fees to do the same thing, but we haven’t pulled the trigger for years because nobody has wanted to take the lead. The money has just been sitting there collecting interest, and there’s a lot of it. This year, my principal and I went out there and talked to them about the program. We decided to try something smaller – their program is a full year, 8th grade elective – and go for a quarter-long seventh grade elective, and sort of learn and build from there. So I have to take his curriculum, and narrow it down to a nine week taster sort of thing. Well, then. Next year’s blog might have some interesting new material. Any tips would be appreciated.

4. Trying to figure out what novel is next. Most years we would have already read Tom Sawyer by now, but I just haven’t been able to face the work that it going to take with the group I have this year. Fifteen years ago, it was the other cornerstone of my class (along with…duh). But now…

More on this one tomorrow.


4 Responses to “Maybe I could get used to this. Maybe.”

  1. Mrs. M~ on April 9th, 2010 8:04 am

    Welcome back! I am insanely jealous of your two week break. We got two DAYS off. Bah!

    During the last week of school, I have my 8th graders do a drawing of how they would picture themselves on their high school graduation day. We take a class period to draw, color, date, and sign them. I collect them and keep them until the students’ senior year. I send them to the students at the high school during the last couple weeks of school. (The high school secretaries are never too jazzed about distributing all those pictures each year, but at least it does not cost anything.) Most of the kids have completely forgotten about it by then, and they really get a kick out of seeing the drawings and what dorks they were in 8th grade. 🙂 I get some good emails from them after I send them out.

  2. Meg on April 10th, 2010 8:24 pm

    My sevies did a video interview project in their writing class that I snagged from Mark Bailey at Pacific University in Oregon. Here’s the website info: It worked really well and gave them a better understanding of basic film techniques, video editing, and script writing. They really enjoyed it.

    If you need a book idea to replace Sawyer, I’ve found that The White Mountains by John Christopher is something that 7th graders really get into. Excellent Science Fiction story and there is a whole trilogy that they can read later on.

  3. mrC on April 11th, 2010 7:25 pm

    @ Meg: I like the interview idea. I was thinking about one of the projects being a sort of video biography of some older person in their family. I like some of the ideas I saw on the site. Thanks! Is that book Tripods (or something like that) from that same series?

    @ MrsM: I really like the self portrait idea. I might hafta steal that one in some form. And yes, the two weeks was sort of beauty…except now it’s 7:30 on Sunday night, and my mind is still on vacation…

  4. Meg on April 11th, 2010 8:03 pm

    The Tripods Trilogy is three main books:
    – The White Mountains (1)
    – The City of Gold and Lead (2)
    – The Pool of Fire (3)

    Then the prequel, When The Tripods Came, was written 20 years later. I haven’t read any beyond the first book, it’s on the mile long reading list that I rarely get too, but the first one is VERY suspenseful. The recent reprint (2003) calls the books The Triopds and then the subtitle underneath, so I think it’s the same book.

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