Friday, September 26, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up

Better known as "monthly wrap-up," that is.

I used to be such a good blogger. I'm a much better writer when I follow the writing adage "write every day" and yet…

I'm teaching two high school English classes at our co-op this year, and, honestly, I spend many of my morning hours—the hours when I used to blog—doing lesson plans for the classes. I have taught the 9th/10th grade British Lit before, although I am making a lot of changes this time around; but the class I call Classic Lit (for 11th and 12th graders) is all new. I have 42 students all together—21 in each class. Weeks like this past one, when both classes had an essay due, are killers.

But I love it.

In my British Lit class, we just finished with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. So I made a note last time I taught this to "call Sam." Sam's the chair of the English department at our local private college and a homeschooling father, and  his passion just happens to be medieval literature (which is not mine). I asked him if he would come and do a lecture on Sir Gawain, and he happily obliged with THREE. Yep, for three Wednesdays (our co-op day) in a row, he regaled my 9th and 10th graders with all things medieval and fantastic discussions of the poem. It was fantastic!

We've moved on to Shakespeare's Macbeth now. To begin the Shakespeare unit, I assign each student a topic relating to either the Elizabethan era or Shakespeare himself. They prepare about a 2-minute speech, and this way we manage to cover the basics in class without me lecturing for 45 minutes. And then we got into the really fun stuff: Macbeth.

In late October I'm taking both of my classes to the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta to see Macbeth, so both classes will be reading it first. My 9th/10th grade class had fun doing 60-second Macbeth this week. I told them the story briefly and then assigned them 9 parts with about 2 lines each that give a super quick version of the play. And, no surprise, everyone except the three witches and Macduff gets to die. On the floor, with much drama.

It was awesome. They had fun, and, at home, Duncan began reading Macbeth enthusiastically. That was my goal.

My Classic Lit class just finished reading The Odyssey, we've watched O Brother Where Art Thou?, and now we are also going to move on to Macbeth.  But between larger works this year, I'm having my students take a turn at teaching. I divided the class into 5 groups before we began the semester. Those are the groups that students go into when we do group work in class, and these are also their teaching groups. Each group was assigned a short story, and they are to take the entire 80 minute class to teach this story. They have specific requirements that must be met, but they have a lot of freedom within those requirements.

The first short story group was up this week. You know that particular satisfaction that comes when you have a great idea and then it actually turns out like you imagined it? Yeah, so that happened. These students were absolutely fantastic. They were well-prepared, organized, kept the class on track, moved along smoothly, really discussed the story, and had fun, too.

The teachers, feeling proud and relieved after their class

Their short story was Flannery O'Connor's "Everything That Rises Must Converge." If you know the story, the hats make sense as the perfect craft to do. (Doing a craft wasn't a requirement, but I loved that they did this.)

Yes, of course we made hats, too


I just love these kids. I love teaching, and I'm so grateful that we have an incredible support group with a large, thriving co-op program. It's interesting for me to look at this picture and see such a wide array of students. About half of them have been homeschooled since the beginning, and most of the others have been pulled out from either private or public school just in the last two years to homeschool. And they just all are so hilarious and really, really smart. I laugh a lot in this class.

So that's what is going on at our weekly co-op classes.

At home, we're falling into a nice weekly pattern. Laurel has dual-enrollment classes at Maryville College, our local  private college, every day except Tuesday, and she also has a full afternoon of co-op classes on Wednesdays. She seems to be adjusting well to college classes and balancing academics with her social life, too. She's just so self-sufficient. She knows what needs to be done, gets appropriately stressed out, does it, and moves on.  It's a busy fall for her with the ACT coming up in a few weeks and then college applications due soon after that. I'm not allowing myself to think too much about next year, though....

Duncan has made huge leaps in these first 6 weeks of school. At first he really struggled, especially in science, getting the main ideas of the text and answering the questions. Because, you know, he's never used a textbook until this year. But it only took a week or so to teach him about highlighting and noting key phrases, etc.  We've gotten into a good routine. I write out his weekly assignments in a simple spiral notebook, and he does most of his work with little input from me. The only class he's actually taking at home this year is history; everything else is done through co-op or in a small group setting.

And that's what has been happening in our home/school in these past few weeks. I'm looking forward to a beautiful October!

Linked up with the Weekly Wrap-Up

1 comment:

  1. Your literature classes sound absolutely awesome!


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