A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I can engage students in the Middle School. They are definitely a different breed than the elementary schoolers. At the same time, though, I have found that I have the sense of humor of a fourth grader. If i have leaned anything in my 7 years of teaching, it’s that I can literally do no wrong in the 4th grade classroom. It’s interesting, because the kids grow up and they get tired of my approach to humor, but the new ones come in and they love it. Middle school still eludes me, if only slightly. They have different interests (I recently read a great article about middle schoolers that was a great reminder about exactly why middle schoolers are equal parts awesome and frustrating).
In the previous article, I talked about several things I was going to do work on to help them get more engaged: The PQA has gone pretty well. I have been adding lots more details about each of the characters and the kids have been understanding what I’m telling them and incorporating the details in their writing.
I have added another piece on top of just the PQA: stamp sheets. I am starting out modestly. I am looking for things that I know that the kids can do and things that are just beyond their reach. I don’t want to force anything that the kids aren’t ready for. The first sheet has 4 items on it:
-state my name in a complete sentence
-describe myself with at least 3 adjectives
-describe the weather
-state my age in a complete sentence
All of them can do 1. Most of them can do 2 and 4. 3 is the tough one because we haven’t talked about the weather for a long time. I am incorporating it into the stories as well as PQA before we start class stories.
I was upfront with the kids about my purpose for the stamp sheets. This group is intelligent (really really intelligent) and mature (sort of). They are able to handle me talking to them in terms of the real world. When I handed out the stamp sheets, I let them know the following things:
-These are as much to guide me as they are to guide you–I am flighty and I am willing to gab on and on in pqa and not focus on the task at hand; I am waaaayyyy too willing to let the fun of a story take over the goals of a day’s lesson…I need things to keep me on task as much as you do
-These are things that everyone who has taken a language class should be able to do–if you leave here and can’t do these things (along with others that we will work on as the year continues), what value has my class had for you?
I have not added too many new types of writing activities – more to come after the new year.