Saturday, October 17, 2015

Recycle Resolutions
I don’t always keep all of my own resolutions. Even ones I commit to on this blog. But students aren’t the only ones who get to set new goals in a new quarter! So here are 2 I started this past week, and one I hope to implement between now and Christmas.
  1. Using mentor sentences to teach diction, detail, imagery, syntax, and tone. Back in July I blogged about this great resource I found and how I was going to use it (Finally: Voice Lessons for Readers and Writers). All first quarter the book has sat on my desktop. Friday I finally got around to using the first example to start class: “Art is the antidote that can call us back from the edge of numbness, restoring the ability to feel for another” (Barbara Kingsolver, “Jabberwocky,” High Tide in Tuscon). The students did eventually arrive at an articulation of how antidote made the sentence much more vivid and urgent, and the lack of empathy much more sinister than if Kingsolver had chosen the word gift. But the amount of discussion it took for them to come to that conclusion stiffened my resolve to make this exercise a frequent class starter.
  2. Having students self-select vocabulary words. In my defense, the first quarter of AP Language has enough vocabulary just with the rhetoric and argument-specific terms. Students did frequently ask about unknown words they came across in readings, and we’d discuss them, but I didn’t collect them in any way. This week I did start collecting them—in a Google Doc as we go, and then creating 2 Quizlet sets—one for the definitions and one for the context sentences. So far we’ve collected umbrage (they didn’t know the Harry Potter character name was a real word), deferment, miscreant, altruism, cynical, and precarious. I’m toying with the idea of a Word Wall.
  3. Giving class time for independent reading. I was getting better at this (Baby Steps: Nurturing Book Love), and then I changed schools, and in the adjustment, it got completely lost. I’m going to work on that this quarter. 

Is there a resolution or plan you made at the beginning of the school year that’s lying there on the floor off the edge of your mental workbench, making you feel guilty every time you remember it? Make a list and tackle the top one next week. Don’t throw it away—recycle!

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