2015-16 Begins

The rattling buzz of cicadas and the sticky heat of summer have only just begun, but it’s time to go back to school.

On the last day of July, I went to school and finished up my classroom. I’m trying out a new seating arrangement, a new note taking system, and a new method for keeping track of missing homework. (I’d post pictures, but while I remembered to take my camera along, I left the SD card at home.)

I’ve got new neighbors this year, too. The social studies teacher who had been next door to me for three years has huge classes and a small room, so he is moving to the other end of the hall where there is a larger classroom. A science teacher who has been a floater living off a cart for years will now be in his old room. On the other side of me, a small room that used to be an office will now be a classroom for one of the Spanish teachers. Most of her classes are small enough to fit in that room, but it’s possible that she may need to have one class in my room during my prep hour. Across the hall from me is the Resource Room, and we have two new special education teachers this year, so that makes two more new neighbors.

My lessons are planned for the first week or so. Flexibility is the key, of course, because it’s hard to know how quickly each group of students will grasp the new concepts. Eighth graders will start off reviewing some writing techniques and then beginning vocabulary for a novel we’ll start reading very soon (Monster by Walter Dean Meyers).

Seventh graders will learn those same writing techniques, and after we get through that, I’ll begin The Outsiders; I’m hoping to wait at least a week after Monster begins to start The Outsiders; it’s always tricky to teach multiple novels at the same time. However, almost all of my students have loved both these books, so they are great ones with which to begin the year.

My honors 7/8 class is the tricky one; this is brand new territory for me. I’ll be reviewing some things with 8th graders that the 7th graders still have to learn for the first time. (I’ll probably have the older students teach the younger ones part of the time.) I’ll have two years’ worth of standards to cover, but thankfully English standards are pretty similar from year to year, so I don’t think that part will be too difficult. Another challenge is that there is a big difference in maturity between 7th graders and 8th graders. It’s only a year, and you might think it isn’t a big deal, but it can be, depending on the kids. All these students are academically intelligent; they are good readers, are at least average writers, and have a decent understanding of grammar. But socially it could be a completely different matter.

On top of these things, we’ll have a new learning management system (LMS) this year; we had just started piloting My Big Campus last year when it announced that it would no longer function as an LMS. Our new program is Canvas, and unfortunately, no one except administrators have received any training on it yet. The hope is that part of our two teacher days will include training, but as of Friday, that was still uncertain. A number of teachers are hoping that we can get rolling with it soon so that we can communicate with students and parents, post assignments, and have online discussion groups through the system.

Although part of me wails “I don’t wanna go back!” another part of me is excited. It’s a brand new year with lots of new things happening!

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3 thoughts on “2015-16 Begins

  1. Oh yes, HUGE difference between 7th & 8th grade! At least in my experience – we were wild animals in 7th grade, but by 8th grade had sort of started to be tamed 🙂 But you know one difference was that in 7th grade our classes were in a large open space with partitions instead of walls between the classrooms. We used to throw paper over the partitions 🙂 For some reason that seemed to foster anarchy a little more than the regular rooms we had in 8th grade.

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