Category Archives: planning

Freedom Writers

So, I have to admit…when I went to Long Beach on Friday morning, I was skeptical. I didn’t know what to think. I’ve seen the Freedom Writers movie. I’ve read the Freedom Writers Diary. Both were touching. Both were almost too incredible to believe, but after teaching a few years in an urban setting (though my city is not a BIG city, it’s still a city and I’m at an “urban” school), I knew that those types of occurrences or situations can happen.

I never expected to be affected like I was. I cried, a lot. Some of it was in response to hearing from actual Freedom Writers. Some of it was in reaction to stories and situations that struck too close to home.

Erin Gruwell is THE MOST POSITIVE/UPBEAT person I’ve ever met in my life. My friend Susanna from high school is a close second. She is so committed to what the Freedom Writers Institute is doing and their methods. I want so badly to be able to have some of that positivity.

I wish that I would have written this post 2 weeks ago, or whenever it was that I just returned from CA. I feel as if I’ve forgotten so much. Plus…there’s only so much that I can say. As part of my training, there are many things that I have to keep confidential. But…I have more ideas on how to teach and how to reach my students.

Let’s hope the $25 I spent on notebooks (230 of them!) will pay off…I have a lot to do this week. (We start with kids on the 16th).



Filed under beginnings, books, expectations, instruction, planning, writing

Next Year

Well, right now, I’m sitting in my living room listening to the wind blow, the rain roar, the hail fall, and the thunder rumble. My part of my state is experiencing a huge late-day storm (we usually get them at night, as far as I can remember) — my parent’s house (they live north of me) has no power. Thankfully, my parents have a non-cordless land line phone.

We had our “plan time” for summer school today — as far as teaching goes, this will be a cake-walk. On one hand, this is not a program that is what you’d want to see happen in a classroom during the school year. However, this is credit recovery. These kids are here to earn their credit — they need buckle down, do the work, and as Larry the Cable Guy says “git er done!” So, this plan to have them work independently (as much as they’re able) and to essentially prove they can demonstrate their mastery of standards via this work — I’m okay with it. Also, the lack of planning that is necessary on my part is fantastic.



Next year, this is what I’d like to accomplish in my junior English class. Let me know if you think it’s do-able.

September/January: 1 essay, 1 speech (memorized poem recitation)
October/February: 1 essay, 1 group presentation (4 to 5 minutes & 4 to 5 people) **Feb = state writing test
Read 1 major work by this time
November/March: 1 essay, 1 partner presentation (4 to 5 minutes)
December/April: 1 essay, 1 speech (solo! — 4 to 5 minutes) ** Apr = state reading test
Read 1 major work by this time
August — winding up stuff (short works, etc)
May — winding down stuff
So…2 major works for each semester, which will be supplemented by various other texts: speeches, essays, short stories, poems, etc.

Remember, I’m on the 4×4 block, at least for one more year — rumor has it that our new principal would like to change our schedule to A/B Block. M&W=A, T&Th=B, Friday = all (meaning each class would meet for about 45 minutes). We couldn’t change it till the 2011-2012 school year. I personally LOVE the idea of an ABAB/All schedule.

Side note: don’t get me wrong, I LOVE teaching juniors. I love that age group (even when I don’t). But I HATE that the feds have decided (or our state has decided?) that this is the age-group that needs to prove they know what they know. They are tested up the whazzoo. It’s ridiculous.

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Filed under block schedule, credit recovery, juniors, lesson planning, planning, preparation, quarter schedule, reading, state writing, summer school, testing, work, writing

Thank goodness for Panera

I’m currently at the one in my “neighborhood” using their free Wi-Fi. We didn’t have school today, making it 3 days in a row that I haven’t seen my students. Monday was a US holiday, yesterday we had an inservice (we had meetings, but no students) and today they deemed too cold to go to school. We have a LOT of kids who take busses from various places in the city to their schools (particularly middle and high school kids), and they deemed that below zero temps were too cold to have kids wait outside for the bus. Can’t say that I’m complaining — I got to get up at 10 this morning.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I really like my job and my students, but in all actuality, I was NOT ready to teach today. I’m hoping that after a brief respite on the internet I can get down to business.

**side note, I think that there is a big group of med school students behind me, b/c they keep talking about medical related junk — ailments, diseases, etc.

My to do list — 1) Finish grading my Crucible final tests (most of them did really well — we’ll see how their essays are). 2) Read/score my students’ rough drafts of their research papers. Out of a class of 22, I have 8 rough drafts. 11 students didn’t turn one in and 3 students have been skipping class for most of the quarter. Speaking of, I’m going to check my district email to see if I have any emails from my “slackers” as to where their rough drafts are. I suppose I’ll have to extend their due date. They’re NOT going to be able to get their rough drafts back tomorrow, and have them ready as final drafts on Friday. *sigh* 3) Figure out for sure which short stories and poems we’re reading next, before we finish up the quarter with Mice and Men (for my 2nd/4th block classes). 4) Make sure I have To Kill a Mockingbird all mapped out. 5) Figure out what I’m going to do w/ my one student in 4th block.

This student — oh, I adore him. Not in any way that’s inappropriate obviously, but I’m just so excited he’s in my class. He’s a former dropout who’s dropped back in– told me that he didn’t think Burger King was in his permanent future b/c he wants to do more with himself. He’s an AMAZING writer, who showed me some of his poems. So, I let him borrow a book of SLAM poetry. Anyway, he’s read all of the stuff we’re doing in class, so I told him that if he played along in class, I’d assign him other stuff and I’d test him over that stuff instead. Now, I just need to find the other stuff for him.

Well, I have a bunch more stuff to do online and my plan is to grade/score my research papers while I’m here. They’re not going to get done at home, so hopefully I’ll be productive surrounded by the smells of bread and coffee.

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Filed under planning, procrastination, students

Logically? Chrono…logically?

(how is it that it’s already past midnight? gah!)

I was writing down ideas tonight for school, while at my part-time job. I think that I’d like to have at least one novel or excerpts from a novel from the major eras in our country’s history. Or, something like that. I also would like to make sure I have a good representation of ethnicities in the classroom. [Frustrating though: my coworker/manager told me tonight that my students won’t care if I do. And, if they DO care, it’s just b/c they want to get out of doing homework (which didn’t make sense to me). I HATE when people are all doom & gloom towards me & my new career path. Yes, I know it’ll be difficult, but you don’t have to be a complete sourpuss about it!]

So, I need to go look through the BIG list I have, AGAIN, and re-evaluate. GAH!!! I’m running out of time!

And, speaking of time…only FIVE DAYS till I have the copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in my hot little hands! YOWZA!!

(Side note: I did this online personality test thingie tonight. I LOVE these. It told me I have low self-esteem/confidence though. Which, lately, I do.) <script src="“>

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Filed under books, planning, quizzes


I have books for this next year at home with me. I have the Junior Anthology at school. I only need to plan for 1st semester, but it needs to be the equivalent of a year’s worth of teaching and information.

I’m NOT really a good look-ahead, small pieces of the big puzzle type of gal. Does anyone have ANY suggestions as to where I should start re: planning for the year? I kinda think that I’d like to go chronologically for American Lit, rather than teach by genre (which is how my cooperating teacher did it for her juniors).

Also: I need to plan for 2 things. 1) The research paper. I’ll have this each semester with my students. 2) State writing assessment. I’ll need to make sure my students are ready for it. It’s in the spring. So, even though I won’t have my fall semester students when they take it, I’m still responsible for their scores. (yeah, no pressure, eh?)

So…where do I begin? How much is realistic for a semester when you’re doing block scheduling? How many novels? How much poetry? Also, I’d like to include somewhere between 15 to 25 minutes each day on grammar.


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Filed under planning