Big Red Ball

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6 thoughts on “Big Red Ball”

  1. I agree. I’ve only recently started doing Non-targeting stories with OWI’s and I like the pressure of not having to make sure I get to each target in the story. Also, thinking back to doing targeted stories, half the time the targets didn’t even make it into the story anyway! Yesterday, we had a fantastic Italian III class! The kids were so into it laughing the whole time. Even better, the whole story was based on real events of WWI! Apparently the juniors are in a World History class and are currently learning about the war!
    Cross-curricular…check! 🙂

  2. Oh my this is so true. I was just marveling in seventh period yesterday – and I need like two more weeks of snow days to start making a dent in the pile of videos that have accumulated, probably due to working on the new edition of the Invisibles book for the publisher, but I wish you could see the videos that are now coming out of class. The sense of happiness and community is, to me, palpable even in watching a video with no images of the kids. They love class! I love class! We all love each other!

    This feeling, Ben, has never happened so strong in my work with kids, in any subject, in any classroom, ever…and I was always known as having a very welcoming, inclusive class. The SPED teachers and ELL teachers always loved me so much because I found ways to help the kids they worked with, to be successful and included (thanks to Teachers College Reading and Writing Project for that!)

    I feel like kids are RUNNING to class these days. Why? Here is my unscientific point of view:

    1. The jobs are so fun and they keep class really fun. The videos are famous now and the artists love their work and the kids love having something that they are recognized for.

    2. I have nicknames for a lot of the kids. They love that.

    3. I use L1 so we can chat/connect. I never did this before. I was to caught up in ALL LANGUAGE ALL THE TIME. But this time is invaluable in building community.

    4. The stories! Oh, man, the stories! They are so DEEP these days. Many are about fitting in and acceptance and I even had one this week about race and color. The kids swoon over stories about not being accepted for who you are. That’s what middle school is all about, and through their classmates’ characters they see that EVERYONE is dealing with that. It is like story therapy.

    5. Book clubs! This one class just kind of spontaneously started wanting to get with other kids who are reading the same chapter books. So now almost everyone is in a group, reading during SSR. It is an amazing thing to see the kids hunkered down over chapter books, because they CHOSE to. They CHOSE to be in a chapter book, they CHOSE to be in THIS chapter book, they CHOSE to try groups (this one group of boys kinda just started it informally on the spur of the moment) and they CHOSE the people in the groups. It is a beautiful thing to behold, 37 seventh graders sprawled out on the floor, 90% of them in book groups, a tangle of arms, legs, and books.

    6. Clapping for each other. We clap for each other a lot. I think it is important.

    7. Acknowledging kids when they do their jobs. I gaze at them fondly, clap for them myself, say thank you, fist bump, get the class to applaud them…I make a big deal out of the kids who have jobs. It is a source of great pride for them.

    8. Speaking slowly and comprehensibly. If I speed up too much, and I start to lose them, they get sooooooo snarky. I was having a great Special Chair discussion yesterday in French Two, we were all just enjoying ourselves, and then suddenly I said “brother” and this group started to grumble, “I don’t get anything about this, I am so lost, what is she talking about?” ONE WORD did it. (I assumed, hey, second year French, dude, BROTHER, c’mon. But goes to show you should never assume!) This was actually a happy moment for me, as I learned I can trust the kids. So they were with it up till then, and they let me know through teenage snark that I had lost them, so I could fix it up. I am obsessive about their comprehension. I think, though this is #8, it is actually #1. If they cannot comprehend, if they feel stupid, they will not want to be part of the community we are working so hard to build.
    I would say that 87% of the discipline problems in school are attributable to two things: 1. The kid needs to be known and recognized and/or 2. The kid does not understand the messages that the teachers are delivering. In L1 or L2. In science or French.

    1. My classroom community varies from class to class. I have 2 really good CI classes who honor the process, plus the students get along. I have 1 French 2 class that has students all over the place. 1 is volatile with negativity. About 4 have side conversations and about 5-6 who want worksheets, projects or pair conversations and grammar. The rest are quiet but i feel like they are putting up with it or just going through the motions of school.

      My class operates in the shadow of excessive homework packets and testing. Its hard to see the light.

      My response? SLA principles, hyper personalization and more FVR. My energy however is probably not in it lately. These three day weekends are knocking us around hard. Other teachers are not letting up.

  3. Be not troubled by that one class. We all have them. Soften up, slide over the top of it, don’t try to change them, ride a wave of confidence that you, Steven, have earned. February is beaten. You are doing exemplary work in just your second year and my heart is filled with pride for you.

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