You know, I think about blogging. But then when I finally get to a computer. The feeling is over. But I do think about it a lot. I think I will write my paper on . . . whoa, wait I sec, I almost made a decision there. I think I will wait a minute longer before I put it down. Okay, I think I am leaning toward the reading. Donna or Marcia, if you are reading, can I borrow the newest copy of CCC? It's been a crazy week. My student teacher was gone on Friday and Monday, and then she was having a breakdown on Tuesday morning. Breakdowns are normal in teaching. I'm quite familiar with the feeling of hopelessness with a hefty dose of overwhelmed. Actually, now that I am sitting here thinking about it, I have to do reading. The curriculum director for the district I work for called yesterday and asked if I would go to San Antonio for the International Reading Conference. I can't say no. I've always wanted to visit San Antonio. Oh, and, of course, learn more about reading. It will be interesting. So, if anyone knows any good restaurants or things to do, I would love to hear it.
I guess I do have an update. I used a chapter from Roen--an early chapter we read--and assigned the students to choose a term. They looked up connotations and denotations. They used the Oxford English Dictionary and looked at historical context. And I had them read a chapter of Hayakawa called "Contexts of Meanining." That title might not be right, but it was Chapter four, I believe. We spent some time talking about this. I told them that I didn't want to read about their feelings on the issue that might surround the term, but I did want them to look at how two sides use the term for different rhetorial purposes or effects. It was a very difficult assignment for them, or at least that's what they told me. They also told me that they learned a lot. I've been noticing that they don't end the papers very well. They want to write five-paragraph conclusions and introductions. Some students say it helps when I say beginnings and endings. Whatever works. I had them begin the paper with some kind of narrative hook. I didn't give them much guidance on the conclusion except to say, "Do not write a five-paragraph conclusion where you pull sentences from previous paragraphs or review in a boring fashion what you have said already." We have a good rapport. I think there was some finger-shaking involved in this interaction. All in good humor, of course.
So, the first paper I pulled to read was from a kid who I was concerned about. His papers haven't been all that great, and I was afraid taht this paper was really hard for him. He had a great beginning. The word he chose was "proficient" in the context of Missouri's standardized test, MAP, and also No Child Left Behind. He also used so many examples and situations to help explain different contexts in which the word could be used. I think that he got this from reading Hayakawa. When we discussed that chapter, students said, "H. has too many examples. It got really old." This student said, "The examples really helped me understand his ideas which were actually really complicated." I asked him if that was why he used so many examples. He said he thought so. I think H. would say that you would need lots of examples because there are so many different contexts which affect the meaning and only the contexts could present possible meanings of the word. Were there problems in the paper? Yes, he needed to connect his ideas more in a few places. He needed to fix a parenthetical citation, but I was really happy. I would definitely do this assignment again.
I'll write later about what we did yesterday. I liked the assignment we tried.