First things first. What I wore.
I've been into tights lately. It's really all you can do when it's butt cold outside. Also been into pops of color. The winter is sucking the life out of me so I've been trying to liven up my wardrobe with at least one color piece.
Next. What we did.
Seniors: We just finished reading an abridged version of Les Miserables. I am positive I lost at least half of my students- I gave them 10 reading assignments of 40 pages. Ouch. I told them it was good practice for college and that they must learn to skim, DANG IT! Today we talked about the end of the book- namely Javert's reason for committing suicide. This move totally throws me off because I see Javert as such a strong and determined character and when he goes and **spoiler alert** throws himself off of a bridge, it just seems totally contrary to his character. We decided it was two things: 1) everything he believed in came crashing down (What Jean Val Jean's not a terrible character?!?) and 2) pride. I guess he just didn't have the humility to accept the kindness of Jean Val Jean.
I also enjoyed ranting to 40 attentive students about my dislike for Cosette. Dislike is a soft word for it, actually. I hate her. She is such a weak character, has no redeeming qualities, and yet everyone in the whole book is obsessed with her and sacrifices heaven and earth for her happiness. I think she's spoiled. And ungrateful. One student brought up that maybe it's everybody else's fault she's so lame- everybody tries so hard to protect her that she just lives a sheltered life totally oblivious to the suffering of everyone else. Ah, student, now you've made me think!
Lest I not forget- a couple of days before Christmas break students performed in groups a song of their choice from the musical. And you said I couldn't make them sing! It was a combination of amazing/awkward/hilarious/terrifying. Highlights included my Italian foreign exchange student doing the can can to Master of the House with a twin on each arm. Lowlights included 18 year old boys pelvic thrusting on desks to Lovely Ladies. Yah, never going to let them perform that song again. I just kept picturing the principal walking in at that moment.
P.S. I'm taking all my seniors to see the movie on Monday. Wish me luck!
Yep. It is a light show.
Juniors: They finished their research paper and I am 16 papers away from being done grading them. (I started with 80- so close!) They had to choose a problem and solution in society. Of course half of them chose to write on legalizing marijuana. They're 17, what do you expect? As much as I hate grading the research papers, it's awesome to see how hard they worked and that they sorted credible sources and made a works cited page and actually thought deeply about a problem in our society. Topics ranged from salary caps for NBA athletes to gun control to bullying in high school to teen pregnancies to affirmative action. I especially enjoy it when the students present their projects. The rest of the class is required to write down two questions for each presentation and then we have a short Q & A session. I am always amazed at what thoughtful questions the young bucks can ask and I think it's good for the presenter to be a bit put on the spot. They can act dumb, but don't be fooled. These kids are smart.
We're now moving on to Tuesdays with Morrie. I'll be the first to admit it's not the best written book, (probably written at a fifth grade reading level) but the kids totally soak it up. They adore Morrie and while I am always nervous they'll think it's lame, they love the sentimentality of the book. Last time in class I had students write on butcher paper everything they would do/think/say if they found out they had five months left to live. Answers varied from knock up Selena Gomez and fight a midget (they're clearly delusional) to leave a gift for all my family members and write down a history of my life. They have varying ranges of maturity I guess you could say.
I'm totally looking forward to tomorrow's discussion. Early on in the book Morrie states that "Our culture is not kind to us. It does not make us feel good about ourselves." I can't wait to talk about that tomorrow- how reality tv, facebook, twitter etc is "not kind". What does our culture make us believe about ourselves? Also excited to play for them an excerpt of Morrie's real voice from Mitch Albom's official website.
Student: "How do you spell voluptuous?"
Student: "Are you sure it doesn't have an M in it?"
Me: "Uh... yep. Pretty sure."
Sophomores: We finished our poetry unit last week. BUT. They all bombed the poetry test. Which meant that today I let them retake it. And they did better. Phew! I am still struggling to help my students love poetry. I introduce them to all the crazy poets, Sylvia Plath (killed herself by putting her head in the oven door!) Emily Dickinson (never left the house!), Oscar Wilde (Arrested for public homosexuality!) but they still don't totally take the bait.
My favorite poem ever might be William Carlos Williams' this is just to say. We had a long discussion about whether or not this is a "poem." Most students agreed it definitely was not a poem! But then when I asked them why, the couldn't put a finger on it. Love getting the tikes thinking about what exactly constitutes poetry.
The day before Christmas break we had an ugly sweater Christmas party. Kids came in their ugly sweaters, we guzzled hot chocolate, and all sat in a circle on the floor while students read out loud for the class a poem they had written. We snapped for applause and even had lamps on and a picture of a cozy fireplace in the background. I got this idea from a comment that Kelsey left on my last What we did in class post. And well shoot, I like it so much that I am officially stealing it forever!
Banned Book Club: We read Perks of Being a Wallflower for December. (Full discussion here) and in January we are tackling Slaughterhouse Five. Our meeting is January 31 so we will discuss it then. Feel free to join in on the club!
P.S. I am thinking of starting a blogging book club. You know, we all read the same book each month and then discuss it. We could discuss it here in the comments and y'all could also link up your own discussion posts. If I were to attempt something like that would you be in my book club? Please please please please say yes.
P.P.S. this post idea is stolen from e at e tells tales. I think she's real great.