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8 thoughts on “Exhaustion”

  1. I agree that much of the workload of teachers is often self-imposed, out of fear of being seen by colleagues and students as a teacher who lacks rigor. Ben has outlined many ways of streamlining the workload, while still gathering frequent, tangible and accurate data on student progress. I think it helps to view the administrative aspects of our daily work as nothing more than clearing the way for the real work in the classroom. If we arrive at class exhausted and overwhelmed from all of the paperwork we’ve been sifting through, that is taking away from our effectiveness. So we are obligated to do everything we can to reduce the meaningless aspects of our jobs in order to allow the psychological space for the meaningful stuff.

  2. Simplify. I do.
    PQA monday, sometime with a quick quiz written by a superstar.
    story tuesday,
    read the story we did on wed (written by a superstar) Homework on Wed. Either tell the story to a parent, draw the story, write a parallel story, or change POV or change tense depending on the level.
    Read a corresponding Blaine story on thursday with a quick quiz. Read and english summarize usually.
    Friday, free read, songs, written tests, free writes, something easy for both the kids and I.
    Trade and grade your quizzes if you can, or scantron.

    1. Frank I was at a big meeting of all 93 Denver Public School language teachers today. The private conversations blew my mind. Nobody was happy, all were paranoid, some were in situations like yours, with imbalanced people in charge of their futures. So your point is well taken, and John right on – we absolutely cannot teach with vigor without embracing voluntary simplicity in our prep work. And the point about how we do much more than we have to is so true. It is a sickness.

  3. I don’t give any homework, I tell the kids their work is in class, when they listen and read. If they need to or want to they can study their notes as homework. I only grade one short 10 point unannounced quiz a week and I follow Scott Benedict’s Standards Based Grading, so I just give a short listening quiz or short vocab quiz or a quiz in the other modalities that is easy to write and easy to correct. We have to have 50% summative, so at the end of the trimester, I’ll give a final test that is really like 6 quizzes with each of the modalities and culture and vocab sections. So basically, I don’t spend much time grading or writing tests and the kids seem happy with it.
    I feel like with the constant questioning and interaction, there is plenty of formative assessment going on.

  4. question: Ben, you mention one story a week. I’ve been circling name tags with pictures of their interests and doing TPR. Once in a while the PQA turns into a scene or a story. Do you think it is too confusing to have lots of little stories in a week? We started one yesterday about a student who makes great pizza and Tony from Tony’s pizza tried to steal the recipe, but Hannah Montana and Kim Kardashian stopped him, today we read it and acted it out again , then we went on to TPR a bit and then I started talking about another student and that started to turn into a tennis match without a tennis racket , but with a baseball bat and Rafael Nadal and I had my artist draw a picture of the match. It does seem like bad form to have two stories in a day. It doesn’t seem very focused. I have never extended stories for many days, I usually finish in one day, but we can read about it or retell it the next day.

  5. …do you think it is too confusing to have lots of little stories in a week?…
    Not really – it’s just teaching them how to do CI. And those little scenes that arise when you extend PQA a bit are unlike stories. Their only purpose is to teach the kids that play is important, and teach them how to follow the rules, all while personalizing your classroom. They don’t get connected to grades, they just happen and then are over. It is assumed that, when stories are started, the teacher has normed and personalized the room, and played around with PQA until it started to drag (last week for me) and so stories and the crucial readings that emerge from them then become the heavy hitter in the CI instruction pretty much for the rest of the year, or at least until all the spring testing messes things up. The purpose of stories is to teach three structures, get lots of CI, and set up a reading. This is just my opinion. I would do stories from the first day of the year, but there are too many things to norm and too many kids to comfort (i.e. give them names and jobs and rules and personalities, real or imagined). So we do all that PQA stuff for a certain amount of weeks first and then go directly to the main course – stories.

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