Forgot I signed up for a conference at GMU and almost don’t go (the looming portfolio deadline is a handy excuse). I compromise and just hit the keynote speaker, Kelly Gallagher, super teacher and author of Deeper Reading and Challenging Adolescent Writers. He wears a black sweater, has intense blue eyes, and focuses like a laser on learning. Hearing him is a shot in the arm, as these things are, once one drags one’s butt to them. His ideas echo in my head all week.
Start writing Entry 1 in the morning and don’t stop until four in the afternoon. Wife and kids disappear for a trip to the petting farm and then a birthday party. Note to self: thank wife for disappearing. During a break, publish on the blog my response to three reflective questions from last support class. Don’t bother to edit out the snark. Decide to get a sub for Monday. Knock out a quick lesson plan before bed.
It’s me and Entry 1. Mano a mano. Chain myself to the computer while wife manages to disappear again, this time to a skating rink and pizza lunch. Entry balloons to about 18 pages by mid morning. I lay it out on the table and ruthlessly red-pen: 1 page and 8 lines of analysis alloted per piece of student work. As I’m writing, I think about Kelly’s ideas from the conference. Could I have made this kid learn better by giving more feedback in process? At last, I email the entry to my reader, Stephanie.
Instead of writing about teaching, I decide to actually do it. Go to school, do a lesson helping freshmen mine their writer’s notebooks for topics for our next assignment, an attempt to write “creative nonfiction” a la the “storm books” we’ve been reading (The Perfect Storm or Isaac’s Storm). Teaching is so fun, I decide to do it again that night: at NOVA, we work on how to integrate quotes into our writing. Students type examples on the computer, we shine it on the big screen and edit live.
Back at school. My tenth graders present charts comparing one of four “BTB’s” (Big Travel Books) they’ve just finished reading: The Inferno, Canterbury Tales, Gulliver’s Travels or Candide. A characteristic of my teaching I forgot to add to the reflection for Entry 1: snappy assignment titles. During the day, I click over to Certifiable, and notice that the response to last post was deafening. I read emails from various superteachers on the TLN listserv, and feel guilty about the snark. I’m saved by an email from Stephanie. She likes Entry 1.
A late opening! Should I: a) dive back into another entry, b) knock out the blog post for this week, c) head into school early and do some power grading, or d) head back up to bed for an hour. Taking the middle road, I choose b, but what to write about? What have I done this week? It’s a blur. Oh yea, there was that conference on Saturday. I should write about that...
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