Category: high school

Hi! I wanted to stop by and let you know that …

Hi! I wanted to stop by and let you know that I love your blog! I am an adult college student pursuing a teacher licensure in social studies, and I want/plan to teach high school. I've been looking around for a blog to read and I found yours and found it exciting as well as realistic with the "a day in the life" style that I love. It's especially great since you teach the subjects I am interested in and plan to teach. The way you love your job is refreshing, and how I want to be as a teacher.

Thanks so much! I do love my job, and hope you love yours when you become a teacher! 

Bonus Day

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!

The school year approaches…!

Bonus Day

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!

Bonus Day

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:

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Basically. 

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. 

Day One Hundred Eighty-Three

Well. My streak of not crying ended this morning. 

I think the emotion just built and built. I didn’t have any exams to give- I was just grading the ones I gave yesterday- so my door was open, and a bunch of my ninth grade students came by to say thank you, they loved my class, they’re going to keep paying attention to the world and believing they can change it… 

Then one of the rising juniors in my merry band of activists came to talk about life and campaign work (which I LOVE that she’s doing), and possibly setting up an independent study with me in the fall.

Then the last busses left the school, and the faculty went out to wave. Yeah, two kids flipped us off, but a bunch waved and cheered back, so that’s a positive on the whole. 

Aaaand then I went to my mailbox and found the most amazing note from one of my APUSGOV students, and bwaaaaah. Totally burst into tears in the mail room… I will never be able to convey how lucky I was to teach these kids this year. 

I’ve still got three in-service days, but for them it’s done.

Day One Hundred Eighty-Two

My students are really polite. I don’t write enough about that, and I really should. It’s been the trend for the past few years. More and more kids address us teachers as “sir” and “ma’am” (that’s not a thing up here like it is in the South), say “thank you” at the end of class, help us tidy up without being asked, that kind of thing. We all definitely appreciate it. 

There’s also been an increase in the number of students giving thank you gifts, which I don’t think any of us expected, but it’s super sweet! You all saw my Death Star plant. Today I got a gift card to a local restaurant, a bunch of chocolate, and a smiley face rock (which will go next to the Death Star plant, obviously). I was kind of blown away by that.

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I accepted the gifts and well-wishes happily, and gave the World final to my two Block 4 classes. In both of them, the mood was upbeat; the students knew they totally had this. And, at the end, I wished everyone good luck on their last finals (tomorrow), and said what I refer to as my favorite words of the year: class dismissed.

Day One Hundred Eighty-One

You know, I’ve written a lot about teaching APUSGOV, and I still don’t think I’ve conveyed what an amazing experience it was, so let me review. My students got a sitting congresswoman to come to class and have a chat. Then they got nine (of twelve) candidates vying to replace her to do the same, and not one left without telling me “Those kids are brilliant.” They showed me that brilliance  in class and beyond it. They led a walkout, they met with the governor, they spoke to the press. 

They were a one-in-a-million bunch of students. 

I bring that up again today because The Principal wrote me a really nice note about them and the work I did as their teacher. I say I was mostly just along for the ride, but I appreciated that he took the time to do that.

I gave World finals (reflective essays, just like the midterms) to two of my four sections of the course. I haven’t graded them yet, but I don’t anticipate anyone did really poorly (I can spot that at a glance). The students said they felt confident about it and I got a bunch of sweet thank you messages. I also got an unexpected and awesome gift. Behold the Death Star plant:

Teaching is cool.

Day One Hundred Eighty

Underclassmen started taking finals today. There are two each day with a half hour break in between; today they were for first block classes. This block was my prep time on A days and APUSGOV on B days, so I spent the day grading multi-genre projects. 

Given that the project instructions are basically “Write about something that matters right now,” here’s a telling photograph: 

And, remember, I only have half of the projects in my possession; Mrs. T has the other half. 

I didn’t just put grades in all day today. I had a meeting with next year’s APUSGOV students to go over their summer work; it’s a big class, so it’ll be a whole new set of challenges. I also had a chat with The Principal, who complimented me on the work I did with my APUSGOV students this year. That was really gratifying.

After finals, there was a little party for retiring teachers at a local restaurant. I went with Mr. W because we’re both introverted souls who hate arriving alone to events like that. This is why we’re friends, haha. And it was a fun party! Lots of good food and funny stories… Also, a bunch these teachers’ former students made a goodbye video, which was sweet.

Day One Hundred Seventy-Nine

Today was the last day of regular classes for our underclassmen, which means it was the day multi-genre projects were due. This is my half to grade:

Each project has four different pieces of work (expressive, informational, opinion, graphic) and full MLA citations. Each piece was drafted and revised at least once, sometimes two or three times. Most students cite a half dozen sources or more; some have over twenty sources. 

Don’t ever let anyone tell you June is a throwaway month and you can’t keep students motivated to learn.

Mrs. T and I know better. 

And we are wizards.

We both gave students time to work and/or review for finals before delivering our last lessons today, and that was that. We’re proud of how proud our students were to hand those projects in! Like, we had three boys stay a couple minutes late to get their work printed, and they were grinning and high-fiving as they left. Stuff like that makes my day.

Bonus Day

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!