Day 28, October 16, 2007
Today I took the 9th grade out on the grass to do some notetaking for an up-coming descriptive essay, and it reminded me, again, of how effective guided practice can be. It's helpful, of course, to send kids home to practice their writing or reading in the evening, but it usually doesn't reap the rewards of quiet, focused work under the teacher's supervision. Today the kids sat silently in a small area where I could oversee them, and for about ten minutes they simply looked and listened, and wrote down what they saw and heard. Because I was there, the silence was complete and the focus was fairly concentrated. Their pencils were moving almost constantly, and when we went back to the classroom for the last few minutes, they shared some very detailed notes. Had they done this exercise at home, I doubt whether many of them could have matched the observant and detailed work they did in my outdoor classroom today.
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I'm pleased that I was able to focus today on the students that I had selected for special attention. Each day I select 9 students to pay special attention to, not because they are particularly needy but just because all of my students deserve to be individually attended to. In this way, I can observe and take notes on each of my students one day each week. In the excitement and busyness of a class, it's often hard for me to remember to observe and take notes on the selected kids, but I can see that I'm getting better at it. Today I did an fairly thorough job.