Today was yet another entertaining day with 7th graders. I do a lot of great people-watching while I'm at the school, especially in the hallways between classes. I particularly love to observe the boy-girl relationships (our favorite couple is going through a rocky patch right now) and the trends and fads (we saw 22 girls within a 3 minute passing time wearing boots with the fur). I think I love elementary school students because they are sweet and carefree, but I've found that I love middle school students because they are complex and hilarious.
The lesson we observed today was very similar to the lessons of last week. Students practiced identifying a context clue to prepare for their vocabulary test tomorrow, and then the rest of the time was spent working on their short story packets. Now that we've been in the classroom a few times while they've been working on these, I've further developed how I think I would teach the elements of a short story. First, I would chose short stories that are relevant, interesting, and understandable. Some of the stories in their anthology are a little boring, and most of them are hard to find personal connections to. I would either have students read the short stories in small groups or with the whole class because sometimes when students are reading individually they read only to finish the story, and they don't pick up on the depth of what they are reading. As we read these few great short stories, I would have a discussion with my students on how these stories progressed. I think during this discussion I could guide the students to see things such as the rising action, climax, and falling action. We would also discuss how the authors developed characters. Then the students would have to write a short story themselves, being sure to include the elements that we had discussed, and we could use these stories to publish our own anthology. I think this is a more authentic way of assessing students' knowledge of short story elements. Furthermore, I think students would be more motivated to complete their own short story than to fill out a worksheet because they will have an audience. Students would be practicing their writing skills within the unit as well.
Also today we saw many more examples of how Mrs. K goes above and beyond as a teacher. She truly cares about her students. She was telling us today that one student lost his planner and had been using a planner he found in the lost and found for hallway passes. When she confronted him about it, he lied and said it was his. When she found out the truth, instead of becoming upset with him, she talked with him about the importance of honesty. Then she went with him to the office to see if it was possible for him to get a new planner. She even asked the office staff if it would be possible to give it to him for free since he came clean about using someone else's planner. I am very impressed by her calm and caring nature. I only hope that this student and all her students don't take advantage of all the effort she puts into them.