It still amazes me how different this year is to last year. Last year, my classes would often awkwardly end early because my students finished the activities with plenty of (awkward for me) time to spare. This year, it is utterly AMAZING how long it takes middle schoolers to complete tasks. It’s not a bad thing, I just constantly have to remind myself to plan with this timing in mind. Today, we spent the bulk of the period creating foldables to study for their test tomorrow. A foldable is a “tool” meant to help students focus on skills or vocabulary, or really whatever you want. In my class, students needed to define 12 vocabulary words of their choice, and I gave them a (painstakingly scaffolded for them so there was little room for misunderstanding, i.e. I had written a lot of “fold here!”s and “cut here!”s all over this thing) template. Anyway, foldables are basically a more fun way to define words. Instead of simply writing a vocab word and then writing the definition in next to it, the kids wrote each word on the outside and then opened a flap they had cut and wrote the definition under that. Anyway, this literally would have taken me 5 minutes and it took them literally 30. And then they still weren’t getting the words 100% correct when I quizzed them. But I think it was a class period well spent because they obviously needed the time to focus on this vocabulary.
I’m deep in the middle of planning for my next unit which I CANNOT WAIT FOR. Medieval Europe! My coach Karman is encourages me to backwards plan more, so before the unit has even started I know what I want students to KNOW, DO and UNDERSTAND. This will most definitely change, but this is what I have so far based on the CA State standards and the charter school benchmark test expectations:
Students will be able to KNOW (define):
KING HENRY IV
POPE GREGORY VII
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
Students will be able to DO:
-Compare/Contrast European knights with Japanese samurai
-Create a personal crest in the style of a medieval crest
-Complete hierarchy pyramids for the Social Classes and for the Catholic Church
-Translate the Magna Carta’s ideas into modern-day English
-Participate in a Socratic Seminar (Essential Question: “Who should appoint bishops, the Church or the King?” while using evidence to support their point of view)
-Defend their point of view to the Essential Question in an essay format.
-Be able to describe the conflict and cooperation between the Chuch and the Monarchy
-ST. THOMAS AQUINAS________________
-_________ “How did politics and religion change during the Middle Ages?”
(some of them are blank because I have no idea right now)
Students will be able to UNDERSTAND:
-The specific hierarchy of medieval society (i.e. king, lords, knights, etc)
-The specific hierarchy of the Catholic Church (i.e. Pope, bishops, monks, etc)
-How manors played a part in society
-How the church and the social hierarchy worked together
-Why there was a conflict between Pope Gregory VII and King Henry IV (who should have the power to appoint bishops?).
-What the ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas were.
-Why English lords became unhappy with the policies of King John.
-What the main point is of the Magna Carta
-Why the Crusades began and what their effects were.
I came to rather an obvious realization this weekend while I was literally trying to create every single element of my entire upcoming week before the weekend was over. And that realization was, of course, was that I can’t do everything, but I can do what I *can*.
I began this past week (which I was incredibly ahead of myself for, planning-wise) totally panicked about this upcoming week, because I couldn’t figure out what learning activities I wanted to include, and it was going to be one of those weeks where I am running around to different parts of Los Angeles for school functions/losing all of my planning time. And now here I am, sitting here typing this on Sunday night, with probably more prepared than I have ever had prepared before. And yet I still am breathing a little too quickly because of course there are little things here and there that I won’t need until the end of the week that I don’t have printed out. But I promise that my stress has come a long way since starting this job.
On other note, middle schoolers are incredibly unaware, both of how things work logically, and obviously of how their actions affect everyone else. But more on the former today. My biggest goal across all units and content areas is to get them to back up what they are saying/writing with evidence from the texts we are using. I’m begun to make it a contest to get them more invested. During our Socratic Seminar on Friday, by the end of the period the total quote count for one cohort had been 14 quotes used total for 29 students (not bad, actually). On their exit ticket they were supposed to circle whichever description applied to their class’ progress in using quotes. I kid you not, almost every single kid circled the option that said, “AWESOME! 80% of my class supported their statements with quotes!” Oh, math. Apparently percentages don’t work the way they actually work I guess 🙂
I know what you’re thinking. Amelia? Posting about football? What? Anyway, this happened:
I’ll give you three guesses as to who outfitted me with all of this Seahawks gear (not pictured: another shirt and Seahawks earrings). This same person bought a ticket up to Seattle on Sunday night so he could his birthday watching the Seahawks parade today. Oh sports 🙂
This upcoming week is one of those weeks that has the exact same format as a previous week (research, Socratic Seminar, writing), so it’s been relatively easier to plan. I wish I could format every week like this, but not every topic lends itself so easily to this structure. I hope this is another taste of what it feels like to be teaching the same subject for the 2nd year in a row. Also, from now on I’m eliminating the word “research” from my vocabulary. Everything my students do is now going to be an exciting “investigation”!
Today my dad and brother and I went to our home away from home, Ocean Seafood. We literally avoided 1) our freeway exit ramp closing 2) getting stuck in the parking lot because of an oncoming parade and 2) a gigantic line of people by a very short amount of time. And the food was heavenly!