Sunday, December 09, 2012

Year's End And Year 8

I'm writing this as I wait for my DVD of Year 8 Literature Circles to burn. I have had no food since breakfast and haven't gone outside since 8 a.m. when I went to collect my copy of the Age from downstairs. I may end up being late to my mother's place because I don't want to leave my DVD burning while I leave the house and it may take too long. But it's finished. I can now start burning copies on Nero at work, for those students who want one. Last year I gave a copy to every student in the class, but I suspect not all of them will be interested this time, so I will take orders tomorrow, and those who have reason to be proud of their work will get a copy.

There's one more week of actual class time with my Year 8 and then the activities for two days before we get them cleaning and have our own end of year lunch (compulsory!).

And there's so much to do. We have finished the Year 8 Pathways project. There were a handful of kids, this time, instead of only one, who wasted time and did nothing, but the vast majority of them had a go and were pleased with themselves and the project.

Some projects flopped, such as the table tennis, where the students didn't turn up for their own event, and the dodgeball,which could have worked well, except they didn't do the pre-arrangement of the event, didn't get a list of players or take money. In the case of the dodgeball, they waited a short time and then announced that no one had turned up. Some of the flops were willing to try something else.

We had two girls who wanted to show a movie and bought sweets and popcorn to sell, but the Principal put his foot down on the movie they had chosen. I had seen the trailer and it looked okay, if a bit over the top, but the problem is, you can't do a PG movie and expect to get an audience at school. And the Principal wasn't going to take a chance on having parents complain, understandable enough. So Joy and Rhiannon instead ran a snack bar with the food they had bought and made a profit of $70! They handed in $100, though, refusing to recoup their spendings. It was their donation to Save The Children, our charity, they told me, and insisted on giving it.

There was a soccer match run by four lovely girls, which went over very well, but their real profit came from the icy poles they sold on the day! They did what they were requested to do, organising a team ahead of time, and got a couple of teachers to join in, which meant they had supervisors once the match got started and I could return to open the library. They gave all the players medals (party favours, very inexpensive, and all the proud players wore them to class) and an icy pole. One boy who came on the day said that 50c was too much to pay for an icy pole. I suggested he might like to pay $2 to play and then he would get an icy pole as part of the deal. "Okay," he agreed and handed over $2 instead of 50c!

There were events going regularly and my colleague Jasna and I had very little time to ourselves, but they were so worth it.

A group of boys sold icy poles as an activity. In the group were a couple of kids who normally waste time and do very little, but they did what we asked and made a profit even on a mild day. The next day was to be 38'. I told them that they didn't have to do another day, but that they would sell even better if they did. And they agreed! They spent the profits of that day to buy more icy poles and sold the lot in the summer heat.

There were truffles and cookies, made by the same group. A large profit!

On the last day we had about three events going. One of them was milk shakes, the other two events were a disco and pancakes, both done by the same group, who had been unable to agree on whether it was to be pancakes or disco and decided to do both. In the event, the disco was not too successful, but $16 was all profit, because it didn't cost anything to bring speakers and music. They did spend on glow sticks, but that was absorbed by the pancake profits.

The milkshake makers, who shared the school kitchen with the pancake makers, were our more academic kids. Out of the group of five doing the other two activities, there were four who had issues of one kind or another. It's not that they weren't bright, but we had two integration students, one of whom hardly says a word, one restless boy who won't sit still for five minutes in class and one who is something of a loner, who hates doing group work, who rarely smiles and never laughs. The fifth boy was just a nice lad.

And yet... the loner put in his ideas, cooked pancakes all day, laughed and joked. The quiet boy offered to speak to staff and acted as that day's gofer. The other integration student, who had actually wanted another charity quite badly, threw himself into this one. He made pancakes - it was his recipe - and brought along a music mix and speakers for the disco. The restless boy showed leadership qualities. They were organised, they thought of everything, they answered every question we asked them.They even took a survey before committing to a project.

They were, I think, our greatest success story for this year.

We will have only fifty minutes a week for this subject next year. :-(

The vice principal said this activity was very valuable and we should keep doing it if we can. I agreed with him, but it's going to be hard. Still - it will have to be treated as a challenge - like the one I face as a teacher-librarian in a school which has cut back on library staffing and halved budgets over the last years.

Now for the last challenge of the year: taking them to the movies! But they've earned it.

I have yet to do the final count of the money, but students who added it up said we made over $500!

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