Mrs. T and I finished mapping out our curriculum over lunch today. We’re not entirely satisfied with the timing of things in May, but we rarely are this far out- something aways changes- so what we have will do for now. It’s a functional rough draft. Next week when we meet we’ll put the materials together for the first two units, add new rubrics to our assessment instructions, all that stuff. The goal is to have it all ready to go before in-service starts because those three days just fly.
We also caught each other up on district gossip (between us, we know everything, whether we ought to or not). Mostly, it was about new hires because there’s been a lot of turnover this year; most of it is in the lower grades, not at the high school, but we’re going to have a few new people on our staff. Two of the newbies will be in the ninth grade house, which will be very interesting for me since they’ll both be right across the hall from my rowdy friends and I. Hopefully, they enjoy our cacophonous antics!
Mrs. T and I resumed our planning today. We spent the bulk of our time figuring out how to invert The Epic Research Project and Book Paper. See, this is the way that worked: I taught about colonialism in Africa, then students did research projects about what happened following independence in a particular country (ie- the civil wars in Sudan), read a book set during those events (ie- They Poured Fire On Us from the Sky), and wrote a paper about its themes. And that was good, but we can do better. We asked the research questions, we told them the themes to look for, and that should be on them.
I already wrote that we added more books. We’re going to start with reading, and book talking in class, and have students identify themes in their books (and ones their classmates’ books share). Then they’ll write papers. Then they’ll propose something to research further, and create presentations to share, and I’ll schedule them around my own teaching about post-colonialism. So, my lessons and their projects will compliment each other.
Or so I hope! We’ll see how it goes.
The later units were easier to get down because we aren’t changing much. We’ve got the basics through April, and will finish next time we meet, most likely!
AP scores came out this morning. Since this past year was the first time I taught an AP class, it was my first experience with the wait for scores, the dramatic reveal, etc, etc… Here’s my reaction:
In other news, Mrs. T and I started on some summer work (which we are paid to do, for the record). We met for a few hours while my car was being inspected, and started to plan our interdisciplinary curriculum for next year. We’re going to move some units around, and try out some new assessments (more choice, more inquiry…), and we’re excited about it.
We have what I think is a solid plan for teaching narrative writing. It’ll culminate with our students writing some fact-based fictional narratives based on what I’ll have been teaching them about current events. That’ll mean incorporating lessons on solid research, authenticity, cultural literacy… And these are all good and necessary lessons for a student population that often has limited exposure to the world beyond NH prior to my class. If we do it well, we should be able to make some powerful points about empathy, and the care with which we should treat other people’s stories.
We sketched out a day-by-day calendar for that unit, then moved on to the next, which involves a novel read, a paper, and a research project. We added eight new novel options, both fiction and nonfiction, to the six we already had. I’ve been reading them one by one since they arrived, and now Mrs. T needs to, as well, so we went up to the school to grab copies. The Principal saw us as we were leaving, so we stopped for a chat. He’s always been supportive of what we do, which is awesome; not every administrator out there would have let two young teachers continually experiment with their curriculum and methods- or provided them the means- but he’s had our backs for more than a decade.
The Class of 2018 graduated yesterday. It was a gorgeous, breezy, sunny day. The student speakers gave lovely speeches (the last one, made by one of my APUSGOV girls, called on everyone to work to change immoral policies- ie separating families at the border- and got a standing ovation).
A few hours after the ceremony ended, Project Grad began! It was SUCH a fun trip: bowling, laser tag, and bumper cars at Dover Bowl; trampoline fun at Blitz Air; a party cruise in Boston Harbor; an early morning at Storyland. On the bus rides in between, I played DJ and raffled off Amazon gift cards (anywhere from $20 to $100). I have to give props to the parents who did the fundraising and planning for all of that!
It is bittersweet to say goodbye to this big-hearted class, but as I said before, the wide world is going to be so lucky to get to know them next!
Today we took a dozen athletes to the Meet of Champions.
This meet is fun because my middle and high school coaches are always there, and it’s good to catch up with them. My middle school coach always shakes his head about the fact that I’m not twelve anymore, but then he asks after my team and wishes us luck.
It was a bit hot for a track meet, but that didn’t stop our boys relays from PRing in the 4×800 and 4×400, or our long jumper from making New Englands (and sprinting a decent 200m, too). Our girls didn’t do quite as well, but one of the seniors on the 4×800 ran a monster PR, and our sophomore vaulter made a mark, so that’s good.
Coaches aren’t allowed infield at big meets like this, so Coach T and I, who usually run all over the place, spent much of our time jumping up and down in the bleachers and grabbing each other by the arms while our athletes competed.
We’re kind of ridiculous.
But we should be, right? Getting athletes this far is exciting.
We celebrated after the meet with pizza before the long ride home. And that’s it. The Head Coach will take the long jumper down to UNH for New Englands, but for everyone else- including me- the season is over.
My team competed at the division championship today.
One of the other teams lost one of their coaches to cancer two days ago, but I didn’t know that till this morning. It threw me a little when I learned it was a coach at the school where I’d done my student-teaching; I can remember teaching his son. There was a little tribute at the start of the meet, which was nice, and his team all wore armbands to honor him.
So, there was sadness, but there was also joy.
I got to see so many of my former athletes, home from college or on a day off from work, helping out as volunteers. They’re happy, and successful, and a bunch of them are still racing, which is just awesome.
It started raining just as field events kicked off, and everyone was worried about lightning, but I told my athletes not to think about it. Instead, I said they should hold onto the fact that they’re competing in a championship, and that’s a privilege, and they earned it. I told them go out and rock no matter what.
And they did!
We weren’t in title contention, but we had so many PRs- and one school record- so we were thrilled. The best thing for me was watching my 4×1 girls PR by over a second and get a top ten finish. It was what we spent all season working towards, and even when it was rough- early on in the season when they got DQ after DQ- they didn’t lose faith in themselves. I’m so proud of them.
One of our jumpers won long jump, so he’s automatically qualified for the Meet of Champions, and the 4×4 boys might get in, too, so we’ve got another week!
It was truly a team win, too, because we have no standouts who can score 20 or 30 points themselves. Every girl had to step up and grab every point possible: in early events where they weren’t seeded to score, in later events they had to do on tired legs… It was after the 3200m that I told Coach T and The Head Coach that I thought they had it.
It was an awesome moment when they went up to get the trophy, and our captain got to lift it before dashing off with her parents to get ready for the prom. Because, yeah, it’s prom night, too.
Meantime, our boys, who were seeded to score in maybe three events surpassed expectations hugely by racking up enough points to finish seventh overall. I’m particularly proud of the 4×1 boys for a massive PR (and perfect passes!) They’re such a young team, and their time will come.
Today was our last regular season track meet. It was a little conference meet- only six schools, and we’re the largest- so it was over before noon. And it was a good one. The best moment was when our boys’ captain qualified to run in the 800m in the conference championship because he was so close all season, and just couldn’t get his time down… and he smashed the mark by five seconds or so. Our whole team was ecstatic.
All our relay teams had monster PRs, as well. There is no more nerve-wracking thing for me as a coach than being on the infield during the 4x100m, and just hoping the passes happen. Having a team of rookies ratchets up the pressure on me, too, because good passes are our thing. That’s what we’re known for, and I’m known for being able to teach them.
I’m sure I amused other coaches by watching with my hands partially over my eyes.
The boys still have room to improve (comes of having no consistent leg 2 runner), but the girls were perfect. I was jumping up and down after every pass.
It’s the most beautiful thing in track when it’s done right.
So I spent the past two days in New York City, and I spent today at a track meet.
It was a big invitational with limited entries, so we could only take about two dozen kids. It’s a bummer for the ones who didn’t make it, of course, but it’s a good meet for the ones who did. Getting the experience with tough competition now will benefit them- physically and mentally- during the post-season. That’s doubly true for rookies, and almost all of my sprinters are rookies.
They all ran PRs or close (hundreths, I mean), but our best performances on the day came from our girls’ captain in the 3200m and our boys’ captain in the discus; they shattered their previous PRs. The whole team is happy for them.
It was a great day for a meet, too: sunny and 65 for most of the day. Can’t complain about that!
On Monday everyone will be back from vacation, and the rest of the season will fly by!
Yesterday was beautiful. Today was rainy. Did we still have track practice?
My sprinters did 400m repeats at 8-min mile pace or better because that’s a good way shake the legs out after a meet. We couldn’t go in the building afterwards- the floors are being waxed- so they did cool down stretches under the bleachers. The distance runners used the equipment shed.
And then we went and got ice cream.
See, a few weeks ago, Mr. B’s son was diagnosed with cancer, and since then the community has been doing whatever it can to help their family. The local ice cream shop announced it was going to do a fundraiser today- donating a portion of all proceeds- and these big-hearted kids went, wet running clothes and all. They joined a line that stretched around the building.