Thursday, March 22, 2012

Seventh Inning Stretch

OK I'm not a baseball fan by any "stretch" of the imagination but that's where we are at this time - the home stretch.  Only six days and The Research Papers will be turned in.  And while my students are basking on beaches and sleeping late during our spring break, I will be eagerly grading them with red pen and iced tea in hand.  I've been impressed with their work thus far.  First drafts looked pretty good and I'm anxious to see how they turn out.  Other than a handful of students who are a bit behind, I'm confident that the grades should be good and the experience will be worthwhile.  So thanks for making such a great effort and I look forward to seeing your final versions.

In the meantime, we've begun 1984 and, having only read the first nine pages, its already sparking some interest.  I've gathered numerous articles within the past couple of years dealing with technology and government, two major themes of this novel, and after sharing only three of them with the class, the discussions have begun.  My goal is to raise awareness with these teens so they don't end up with mush for brains because the computers, smart phones, GPS devices, and government provisions do everything for us. 

Anyway, as spring time settles in and we think of wrapping up another year at MHS, we've still got a few loose ends to tie up.  So, students, hang in there and tell me what you think:
  • What are your thoughts about the social issue research paper?
  • What's been your favorite novel this year?
  • What classwork did you enjoy?
  • Do you feel you've grown and improved as an English student this year?  How?
  • Do you think you're a bit more prepared for life in college thanks to this course?  How?
  • What might you miss the most about MHS?
  • What advice would you give to students taking this class in the future?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

There's no turning back now.  As spring time creeps in the windows and sweaters get pushed to the back of the closet, my students get a whiff of their pending graduation with mixed emotions.  Some are signed up for classes and rooms at their respective colleges, some are still deciding which school to attend, and still others are resigned to jobs at local establishments and delayed career decisions.  It is an exciting season.  Whichever path they choose, they are realizing that this highly anticipated time in their young lives is much closer than they imagined.  The day they began to look to at the start of their freshman year seemed so far off - a whole four years! - and now it is a mere 12 weeks away.  Much like the spring time, with new growth and sunshine, my students are on the cusp of such renewal and rebirth.

But there's still so much to do!

My English students are steeped in their research papers.  Contemporary topics have given them lots to discuss and study.  Reluctant workers seem to have a boost in their motivation, perhaps because of a vested interest in the topic.  Most are staying on track with notes and outlines and independent reading and others have yet to locate one decent piece of research.  Reminders of avoiding procrastination, the importance of personal motivation, and the sheer weight of this paper as far as their grades are concerned fall on deaf ears, I fear.  But, now is not the time to get sentimental. 

I'm excited to see their outlines and first drafts within the next two weeks.  It will give me an idea of whether or not this research paper is still a viable assignment and how to improve it as the years go on.  We've finished Animal Farm and I think the kids enjoyed it overall.  We'll view the film version and build replica farms in our spare time.  Then it's on to 1984.

So no matter how balmy the weather gets and how many buds appear on the trees, we must finish our high school hibernation in order to burst into the new season of our lives with renewed energy, fresh perspectives, and open minds.  Only then can we blossom.