NaNoWriMo is a dead letter. I haven’t been able to do any writing in several weeks. Tonight, I appear to be running study hall, albeit accidentally. I don’t know where the regular study hall master is, but with exams coming, it’s not like they’re going crazy on the floor, either.
Spent last night getting my act together for the inter-term, Thanksgiving to Christmas. In history, I’m going to be doing a special unit on China and India. During the five days that we do China, I have a set of twelve hanzi or Chinese characters per day lined up to teach the kids. I have five daily reading quizzes, outlines for notes in-class, and outside reading. Whether I can fit all of this into thirty-minute Winter Term classes is a completely different story. Still, it feels good to put together a project like this. I need four slides a day, four images to draw on for their quizzes and tests, or twenty China-related pictures. I need a similar number of India images, but maybe only sixteen ancient India images. Over Christmas, I’d like to put together another couple of units like this for ancient history, for the Minoans and Mycenaeans, and for Classical Greece. Why I didn’t do this years ago, I don’t know. Maybe I lacked proper motivation to get organized. One of the things I’m definitely doing as part of this is an excel spreadsheet with all the different graded homeworks already entered into the matrix with the kids’ names — plug and play, baby, it’s all about the plug-and-play.
Found a couple of articles today about Nubia and Meroë in modern-day Sudan. It’s becoming apparent that Nilotic civilization may have been born in Nubia, migrated north, achieved independence, and migrated south as a conquest, before surging north again as a rebellion and conquest… Definitely going to have to develop a more concise and clear unit for teaching Ancient Egypt for my students for next year. Among the things I need to do for that is develop a set of hieroglyphs that students are responsible for understanding, in the same way I’m asking them to understand Chinese characters for Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve heard from a number of former students who are now struggling in history. Writing papers, they say, is now easy for them. However, they’re put out of joint by tests and quizzes, because they weren’t subjected to them in my class. If I’m going to teach the middle-level ninth grade class, my kids are going to need those test-taking skills. So I’m going to need to boost the testing in class, it looks like. Maybe I don’t count the quizzes for very much — say, half a homework grade — but it at least gives a few student some extra energy to do well during study hall.
Read BW’s comments today while giving my English exams. The exams went well, but I haven’t had a chance to look them over or correct them yet. Still haven’t gotten my own comments under control, yet. DMQ notes (correctly) that the school office hasn’t yet gotten around to taking eight students off my roster and moving them to her roster. So, I’ll have to submit grades for them, I guess. Hmm. Or maybe I’ll just photocopy that page for DMQ, and put it in her mailbox.
Fencing went… OK. Currently PB and I are both going to fencing practice, from 1:30pm to 4:15pm every day. This will exhaust our resources if we try to do this every day for the winter term. At least, it will wreck me. Can’t speak for PB, but at the end of practice today my knees and ankles were hurting. Also, we’ve had at least three more students added to our roster, possibly four, maybe five. We already had twenty-seven kids signed up for fencing; this brings us over thirty — which means fifteen or sixteen kids in the room that I felt was too small for fourteen, last year. We need more space, and we kinda need it now.
That said, we are going to need to make cuts. Twenty-six or twenty-seven we can handle — divided in half to form a JV and a Varsity squad. But thirty would be tough, and more than thirty is impossible. We’ve got space for two fencing strips, which means running pools of eight during practices to give everyone fencing time… and pools of eight are going to take most of the available fencing time. Could do four pools of four and a DE over the course of a week, but still awkward. Need to sit down with PB and work out the details of how this is going to go down. Also, I need about thirty more drill ideas than I currently have.
got a new job, only about a half-hour from home. She’s blissfully happy about that, now that she’s not commuting two hours round-trip any more.
OK, time to grade English exams. Ten years into teaching, this is the first set of English exams I’ve ever graded. Oh, this brings up another thing — my so-called special education English students finished a three-page, all-writing exam, in about 45 minutes. Yes, they’re remedial students in the sense that they’re behind grade level. But based on early perusal of these exams, I’d have to say they are non-writers by choice and inclination and habit; and non-readers by choice, inclination and habit. But that’s a far cry from saying they’re stupid or slow.
I’m hoping to have the Full Moon Sonnet in the next twenty minutes or so, before the Full Moon’s official 7:57pm local time ascendancy.