Friday, October 24, 2008

Teaching Journal
Day 33, Friday, October 24, 2008

I noticed this morning that a normally reticent student seems to be emerging as a leader in his collaboration group. The project involves designing a website based on the theme of “initiation”, and, as I listened to the group discuss their plans, it was clear that this lad had some technical skills that would be helpful to the group. He was obviously feeling pretty good about the situation. Even his posture showed his newfound position of leadership. He was leaning forward in his chair, eyes narrowed in concentration, face as calm as a clear sky.
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I also noticed that another boy – a student who has often struggled in areas related to English – is a whiz when it comes to grammar items. He seems to have an innate understanding of how our language works, despite the fact that he has to seriously toil when he’s putting it down on paper. He instantly, and with great confidence, answers most of the questions on oral grammar quizzes. The way grammatical insights flow out of him, he sometimes sounds like a young professor of English. Strange, that a boy with such a shrewd understanding of the makeup of a language would have so much difficulty using that language in writing.
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In all the classes today, the students did a few minutes of “freestyle” writing as they listened to songs (“Desperado” by The Eagles and “Swallowed in the Sea” by Coldplay), and, as always, I was beguiled by the beauty and depth of the writing. As I was reading the pieces aloud to the students, I sometimes found myself disbelieving that they were written by 14-year-olds, and in just 10 minutes. Some of what they wrote was refined, graceful, and inspiring. Who can explain this?

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