Wednesday, October 27, 2004

let's read a story!

Today I decided I'd give them a story ("To Build A Fire," because it's in the text) and some good questions which call for page by page inferring, concluding, contrasting, deciding, etc., those questions that call for critical thinking. I also thought it would be a good chance for them to read something on their own and to have specific questions to focus their writing on, which would keep them on track and involved in the story. I read the first two pages of the story and helped them figure out the answers to the first four questions, then I set them loose on their own. I tell you what, almost to a person those students fought me until, by third period, I succumbed and read the damned story to them. They want everything spoon fed. (I find that so ironic, given the lives they lead.) I personally think it's because they don't know they have the ability to think through these things for themselves, and it's not necessarily because they think they're stupid. I don't know how much they're being asked to think. But really, the question of "why" isn't the issue right now. That they don't exercise their minds, that's the issue. Because time is short. My students are juniors and seniors, and almost every single one of them says they're going to college. What is going to happen to them? Do they think college teachers are going to read texts to them? I don't know WHAT they're thinking. I don't know where they got this business that everything has to be read out loud. Their favorite thing to do is copy things. They're very content to copy things. Should I remind them of what Frederick Douglass, the man, said about how to keep slaves contented?
I know they don't have confidence in themselves. I know. I know I know I know I know I know.
I'm frustrated this evening.
They do like to write, though. And my goodness how their writing has grown! I have to bring this issue into this blog. It's the success.
In third period, the class that gave me the hardest time, a girl who has been mean and disruptive and rude for weeks now got in my face and I caught the security guard in the hall and I wrote the girl up right then and there and I had the guard take her away. She got suspended. I thought that was too harsh but the assistant principal said she'd already gone way too far and had it coming to her.

Melanie

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