Power of Language

The learning targets for the read aloud with my 8th grade Language Arts class address the battle of internal conflict. This target was addressed using the main character of the read aloud book. I wanted students to draw from what they have learned from the ongoing unit on heroes in literature to identify the constant struggle of internal conflict of the character as well to draw from their own internal conflict. The second target of this lesson was for students to understand what duel identity is, and how it relates to conflicting internal struggle of the main character. The book chosen for this lesson was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
This book was appropriate for the students because it fit within the unit of Hero’s in Literature that our cooperating teacher was teaching at this time. I choose this book not only because I believed it was a rich, thought provoking story but because our student body has already dealt with internal conflict of duel identity. Many, if not all behave differently at school then at home or with their peers than with siblings. However, the internal conflict, like that observed in reading the Odyssey or dissecting movie clips of Batman, is a challenge that not only superheroes or mythical men deal with. It is a challenge we all face and sometimes fail at.
I told the students why I opted not to ignore the languages because I felt it pertinent within the context of understanding our main character. These lead into a great whole group talk of the power behind language. Many of the students shared when someone makes fun of them or they make fun of others that its results in strong feelings. This response was amazing to me because we as teachers also forget the power behind language. We sometimes talk for many minutes at a time to our students and don’t stop to think about what meaning they are grasping behind our words. This reflection was powerful for me because I want to be mindful of the language I use towards my school and students.

Early Bird is Late to Class

New month and new student teaching dyad placement! It has been exciting and a little nerve wracking transitioning from 2nd Grade to 8th Grade English/ Reading.

The most notable difference I have observed is how tired my 8th graders are coming to class. Droopy heads, sleepy eyes and postures that clearly say “I do not have time nor the will power to think, let alone LEARN about allegories this morning!”.

It is an incredible difference to my 2nd graders who bounce in with tales of the previous evening, questions for the day and skip and holler like they have just risen from a solid eight hours of sleep .  With the 8th graders however, they slough on to their desks and zone out until a classmate speaks to them or the teacher gets everyone’s attention- a challenge on its own right when the clock reads 7:25 AM.

It is no great mystery as to why I am seeing such huge difference in morning behavior, after 6th grade students attend class earlier. And the older the student the earlier class starts – which  we all know is not creating a productive learning environment.  This is nothing new, and will not change before I embark on my first year of teaching. My question is what can we do to best rouse the academic life lost within the students morning haze? I eagerly await your thoughts!