Thursday, November 06, 2008

Teaching Journal
Day 42, Thursday, November 6

Today was a soggy one. The rain was misting at 5:00 a.m. when I did my exercise walk, and it grew steadier and stronger as the hours passed. At one point, during a pleasantly serious literary discussion in a 9th grade class, we paused for a moment just to listen to the sound of the relentless torrent outside. At lunch recess, as I was supervising outside, the clouds spread apart for a few moments and the rain slowed to a sprinkle. Some of us thought we might see a rainbow in the midst of the rainy sunshine, but no such luck. Later, driving home from school, the rain grew steady again, sweeping the windows with water as I came through Westerly.

During the 8th grade in-class writing period this morning, I couldn't help but notice the great care with which the scholars went about the work of constructing their essays. As I watched, they seemed like young artisans creating something important and beautiful. They labored over their work. Most of them developed a careful plan for the essay, made use of every moment of the allotted time, and used a few minutes at the end for editing and polishing. There was a mood of intensity and engagement in the room. A visitor would have thought some business of great consequence was being undertaken by the scholars -- and he or she would have been correct.
I had a wonderful grammar class with the 9th grade today. For 30 minutes we discussed, in a fairly intense and focused manner, some of the subtleties of our language -- the uses of adverbs, the difference between compound and complex sentences, the effect of purposeful repetition. The students behaved like serious scholars. They sat up straight, responded in a thoughtful and attentive manner, and actually seemed to be rather absorbed in the lesson.

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