This week was filled with a lot of ups and downs, but overall it ended on a good note.
STAAR testing for my English I & II classes began this week and the day or two leading up to it was filled with a lot of anxiety on my part and the students’ part. We practiced revising our essays that we had worked on all last week. In the final steps of the writing process I felt that we have made a lot of progress, mainly on the confidence part.
A lot of my students did not feel confident in their ability to write well; and even though the hand writing and grammar were less than stellar, they had good ideas for their persuasive essays. I also discovered this week that we have some former ELL’s in the class. While reading through the class’s essays, I noticed some mistakes in a couple papers that were in line with ESL students. When I conferenced with those students the next day, I asked them if they had been in the ESL program when they were in elementary school. Ever student I thought might have been an ELL was. After this persuasive essay project, I now know how to adapt and differentiate instruction for my students going into the next persuasive writing essay.
The second half of the week was dedicated to introducing Animal Farm to my students. The day before the STAAR test, we created classroom rules. These rules were in the same style of The Seven Commandments created by the pigs of Animal Farm. The students absolutely loved this activity. I was a little wary about which way it would go, but—to my surprise—the students enjoyed it and even began getting into the essential questions of the unit without prompting! I was so excited when students started getting into the idea of who enforces these rules and what about those who exist outside of the rules laid out in the commandments.
Their enthusiasm for the activity made me hopeful that this unit and reading of Animal Farm will be a success. They also were very interested in the introduction videos I showed on Friday, no student had their phone out! I feel like I am finally finding my footing in the class now that I can introduce my own material and am not confined to the strict standards that is the STAAR test.