Day 146, Monday, May 18, 2009
Yesterday, the thought came to me that I should spend the last few weeks of school reviewing – actually retracing the steps – of the entire year, and today the idea came to fruition in a gratifying way. In the 8th grade classes, I put on the screen the lesson and assignment for the day, as I always do, but before class I had customized the blogs so I could scroll down in a matter of seconds to the lesson and assignment for the very first day of school – Monday, September 8. So, after going over tonight’s assignment, we zipped down past 8 months and 144 lessons (it took about 5 seconds) to that Monday in September when we met for the first time. As we looked at the first lesson and assignment of the year, I must admit I was surprised by how interesting – even exciting – it seemed to be for the scholars. They obviously enjoyed looking back so many weeks, remembering what they did in English class in September and how it felt. In fact, their enthusiasm spilled over to the point where I actually had to raise my hand and do some ‘shushing’, which I almost never have to do in my classes. It was apparently a captivating experience for them, at the end of the year, to start back at the beginning again and see where they had traveled. We looked at some early assignments, and the kids became eager to talk about them. They even asked permission to go to their lockers to get their binders with old homework assignments and essays – and a few of them actually rushed back to the room. (Wait a second -- they rushed back to English class???) We spent the entire period looking at essays from the first few weeks of school, examining ‘class notes’ folders from back then, and going over early reading journal assignments. Many enjoyed reading aloud paragraphs they had written then, and we all had fun recalling some of those first lessons and assignments. All in all, they were stimulating classes for all of us. After hiking the long and sometimes precipitous trail of 8th grade English for 8 months, we were looking back down the trail from our high springtime vantage point – and liking what we saw.