I loved that my morning started like this. I woke up with a breathtaking sunrise to the east and thunderstorms rolling in like a wave to the west. I thought about this quote by T.D. Jakes and thought about how thankful I am to do the job that I do. It's so much more than a job to me and today I got to meet a whole new crew of students. It was WONDERFUL!
After shaking each and every hand, my students started working on their first project. I wanted to do something different for our first few moments together. To introduce themselves to their table mates, they created an object using aluminum foil and pipe cleaners that represented them. I enjoyed watching them generate ideas and see their ideas come to life. I even had a student make the words "MS DOS" out of pipe cleaners. For you techies out there, you would have loved it! The creativity in the room blew my mind. Here's what they did:
Next, we transitioned into another creative activity focused on writing since that what our first class period together is all about! Students generated lists of objects in their homes and put the words on popsicle sticks. We put the sticks in a pot and students randomly selected four to use in their CHOPPED poem! Chopped poetry mimics the actual TV show Chopped where cooks get a box of 4 random food items and they have to make a dish using them. Students composed an 8 line, free verse poem incorporating the random words they selected. It was awesome hearing kids say, "I can't do this!" as they started because they didn't give up. They sat, thought for a minute or two, and bravely gave it a try. I was so proud. Here are some of their poems and the feedback given from everyone in the room!
Students have me for two class periods - one period dedicated to writing and the other to reading. Reading was probably my favorite part of the day. I am so passionate about reading and today was the day I got to watch my students select their own books for Reading Workshop. We called the activity "Book Speed Dating" and discussed how finding a "just right fit" book is just like finding the right person to date. You have to picky, you have to observe their traits and qualities, and make note of what you like and don't like! My kids were in my room and rotated to different table groups every 2 minutes. During these two minutes, they had to "date" the book by noting the title, author, writing down as much information as they could gather about the book, and then rating it based on what they learned. After two minutes, they rotated to another table group with a different stack of books. After this, my other two 8th grade ELA colleagues opened up their rooms as they did the same thing! Mrs. B's kids came to my room, the other Mrs. B's kids went to another room, and my kids went to one of their rooms and repeated the process. I honestly believe many kids were surprised and appreciative of the opportunity to get their hands on a wide variety of books. Reading Workshop is going to be different from anything else they've experienced. We want to help our students become READERS. Every child likes to read; they just have to find the "just right fit" book.
If you click on the far right picture and look at some of the specific feedback, you'll notice we have students who are excited about Reading Workshop and others who are so turned off by reading because of their past experiences. No matter what the feedback is, I love the beginning of the year because I get to be alongside my students as they discover what works for them. Sometimes it takes time! If you're a parent of one of these kids, make sure you ask them about their reading regularly. They'll get more details on the how-tos of Reading Workshop tomorrow. I'm going to challenge them to read 40...yes, you read that right...40 books this school year. I KNOW they can do it.