Sunday, February 11, 2007

This past week

Sorry for the long absence. I'm working on lots of different things right now, including a day of workshops for Delta girls, making my classroom even better, and getting a job for this summer and next year. And, of course, my taxes. Hurrah!

Here are a few moments from the past two weeks:

I've beefed up independent reading time in my class. All but one of my students can read, and I would like them all to be reading above grade level by the end of the year. Right now, four are reading at or above the end-of-first-grade level. On the other end of the spectrum, K- isn't reading at all, and four students are reading at beginning-of-first-grade level. When my assistant or I meet with each student to check on how their reading is going and review the books they have been reading, I always have the students read me the title of their book and point to the author (since author's names are typically not on a first grade reading level.) But on Friday, D- was telling me about "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." She told me proudly, "I know who is the author of this book! Dr. Soup!"

We began our unit on measurement this past week. Students were measuring around the classroom and even up and down the hallways using their feet, and they were very insightful about why different people were getting different measurements.

Because February is black history month, I decided to teach my students about some famous African-Americans. This past week, we studied some black jazz musicians (Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday), this week we are studing some black poets and artists, and next week we will look at some black sports stars. I decided not to focus on anyone from the civil rights movement because I know they will get that later on, and we already spent a week on Martin Luther King (and touched on Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges) last month around his birthday. When I told the class that this month was Black History Month, and so we would be learning about some famous black people, D- looked at me and said, "I'm not black. I'm brown!" We can't really get into the discussion on the arbitrary nature of race assignments because they don't know enough about different races, so we had a little talk about how strange those titles "black" and "white" are, since the 3 "white" people in the class (me and two little girls) are not really white, and the 15 "black" people in the class are not really black, and they are not even the same color brown. On Tuesday, we listened to some Charlie Parker, I read the story "Charlie Parker Played Be Bop," and we tried to write real or make-believe words that sounded like Charlie Parker's music. On Wednesday, I asked who we had studied yesterday, and K-, the little boy who is so far behind and who has hearing difficulties, shot his hand into the air. "We listened to Be Bop!" he told me. "And who played it?" I asked. "Charlie Parker!" he responded. Score!


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