Faking the Grade

The first session I attended at NCTE was Faking the Grade. I went to this session with Laura and the room was so crowded we both had to sit on the floor in the front of the room. On the up side, I had never heard of the grading system these teachers were describing.

These teachers were from a vocational school and they started off by asking whether an essay grade really reflects the student’s writing ability. Many of the teachers in the room had different ideas of what a D meant on a paper so that question seemed to rely on a teacher’s personal grading methods. Therefore, the teachers from the vocational school introduced their grading system: Standards Based Grading.

The standards that this school focused on were: Reading and Literacy, Writing, Language, Speaking, and Work Habits. Each of these categories were 20% of the student’s final grade. These teachers seemed to believe that this type of grading solves the problem of us all being “Slaves to the 100%.” Since I am not totally great at explaining this, here’s a little chart that might help understand the rationale behind Standards Based Grading:


If you click on the picture, the blog the picture is on will also further explain Standards Based Grading.

I am not quite sure about implementing Standards Based Grading because I do not like relying solely on standards in the classroom. However, I did enjoy looking at a different system besides the traditional because that means that some schools and teachers are trying to think outside the box.


The First Wave

Here is Blog Post #1 on my NCTE experience. I felt it was only appropriate to start off this series of blogs with the opening session of NCTE: The First Wave performers. I thought that this group was an excellent way to begin the session because their message really went along well with the theme of the conference: Reinventing English.

Some of the things I wrote down in my writer’s notebook after this session were:

“The bad kid isn’t necessarily bad.”

“Tell students you’re not calling their mother or father, ‘I’m calling you.'”

“Embrace diversity. Don’t stereotype and forget about students.”

“What happens when you take ‘act’ out of ‘article?'”

“Stop trying to make people fit the standards.”

These were jut some of the lines I wrote down from their performance. For those who have never heard of The First Wave, they are a group of students from the University of Wisconsin who present through the medium of Hip Hop. They create their own words and choreograph their performances. What I really enjoyed about the performance was how they believed in what they were performing. The performance was powerful because the students were taking a stand against the traditional education system and gave examples from their own lives of how people treated them. Some also talked about teachers who influenced their lives.

If you want to learn more about The First Wave, the website is http://omai.wisc.edu/. I think if you can find some  clips of this groups performances, they can be shown before a social justice unit in the classroom. I believe this group would have profound effects on students.


Judy Blume :)

I received my Council Chronicle from NCTE today and I found an article inside about Judy Blume. She is being honored with the National Intellectual Freedom Award this year.

Just to start this off, before I get to the article, here is a video of Judy Blume discussing banned books since many of her books have been banned.

So, basically, this article just made me realize that I like Judy Blume. I have not read her books for quite some time but this article made me like her. In the article she says that:

You can’t write with a censor or a critic on your shoulder.

That quote should also apply to student writing. So many students give up writing because they know that they are being critiqued on their writing. That opinion is an interesting one to think about when teaching my students how to write.

She also talks about how kids can fight back when the school board tries to take books away. She tells kids to not “just sit there, do something!” And these kids do end up going to the school board and telling them “why the book is so important to them.” She says that this is much more effective than a teacher or a parent trying to fight back. I tend to agree with her because kids know what they want to read and they will read what they want to read no matter what.

So, anyway, just thought I would write a quick blog about Judy Blume because reading the article sparked some imagination. In conclusion, here is a picture I found of Judy Blume while finding a picture of her books. The quote on the picture struck me as interesting and so I thought I would share.

Be odd; Write and read on.  🙂


Sharing is Caring

I just thought I would blog to talk about how my fellow English peeps and I have decided to share the lesson plans we have made this semester. This makes me feel more at ease for when I head out to student teach next semester. We have also talked about calling each other up when we are student teaching to give each other pointers and help. I kind of think of this in terms of this picture:

Just pick a balloon and I will help you figure out this lesson! I am so thankful that I can have the support of my fellow English teachers. And I am sure that they will help me out when I am student teaching because bouncing ideas off of more than one person is a good way to get multiple perspectives on a lesson. So, basically, I just wanted to say:



Ditching Lesson Ideas

I was creating a lesson plan this week for my block class on human diversity and I figured something out. I thought I had a great idea for a lesson where I would read this great poem and have my “students” (fellow block classmates) do . . . something. That was where the trouble hit. I could not think of something for my students to do afterwards. No matter what I thought of, nothing seemed to work or make sense. I was in a state like good old Captain Jack Sparrow and pencil lady here:


And then, I was sitting at work at the public library and got bored enough to start browsing through the children’s books. That is when I found the book Brown is Black is Tan by Arnold Adoff. This book was the first book to feature an interracial family.

Because of this book, inspiration struck me. And I threw away my previous idea for a lesson that I had been struggling with. I decided to teach multiculturalism through the use of children’s, junior’s, and young adult’s books. And the lesson plan practically wrote itself.

What I learned this week is that it is okay for me to ditch an idea if the idea is not working for what I am trying to teach. Basically, I accepted my failure to create my first lesson and come up with a lesson I was more comfortable with. I also learned that inspiration can come from anywhere. 🙂


Music and Poetry

I went to the community choir concert today to watch my roommate sing and the CSC concert choir sang a set of songs by Eric Whitacre composed from poems of E.E. Cummings. What I found really interesting about this is the crossover between poetry and music. Just for interest, here is a picture of E.E. Cummings:

And here’s a picture of the composer Eric Whitacre:

So Whitacre combined five of E.E. Cummings’s poems into a composition entitled The City and the Sea. The poems he combined were: 1) i walked the boulevard, 2) the moon is hiding in her hair, 3) maggie and millie and molly and may, 4) as is the sea marvelous, and 5) little man in a hurry. if you want to see what these poems are, they are all on Whitacre’s website at http://ericwhitacre.com/music-catalog/satb-choral/the-city-and-the-sea.

Anyway, I thought that this guy composed five movements out of poetry. I think this would be a good example for students to understand how poetry can be transferred over into every day life. Maybe having the students listen to some of these movements will make them realize how others can connect to poetry. And these movements are also pretty recent. The composer says on his website that he might be working on some more.

Basically, I just thought that this was pretty cool when I saw the poetry in the program for the concert, I thought I would look into this more and share my thoughts. 🙂


New Questions

Wow! I have not blogged in a while! Did not realize it had been that long. Therefore, I decided to blog my four questions. I definitely need more blogs!

Question #1:

More of a statement but I am still worried about those kids who just do not care. Yes, we have talked about strategies and motivation but I am still worried about them. I do not think I would be as good of a teacher if I did not worry about those kids.

With that teaching philosophy, lack of motivation is easily explained. But I do not want to teach like that because it bores me as well. However, maybe Buzz Lightyear can put it in better perspective:

Question #2:

Two words: Student Teaching. This makes me nervous because I do not know much about what I am expected to do. I know I have to jump through hoops.

That is one of my worries.

Question #3:

Parents. I think just that one word will suffice for this question. This is also more of a statement than a question. I think this cartoon explains it all:

Question #4:

How do I deal with stress? I do not think stress can ultimately be avoided but it is still a worry of mine.

As funny as this cartoon is, I hope that I will not feel like that every day. Life would be better off if I wanted to go to work.