Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Back At School - My New Classes

I'm in my third week back. My classes this year have been swapped around from last year. I was doing Year 7 EAL, Year8 English and Decoding in our literacy program.

Now I'm doing Year 7 English, Year 8 EAL (two new students and a couple who have left, but otherwise the same kids) and I've been moved up to Group 3 - Comprehension Transition - for literacy. Two of my students from last year have moved up with me. They must feel as if they haven't gone anywhere - we're even in the same room!

So, a lot of new stuff to learn. Yes, I know the subjects are the same, but still new to me. Year 7 has to prepare for the NAPLAN exam in May and until that's done, I can't do much other stuff. I adapted my Year 8 material that I used to use for "persuasive writing" and gave them a short grammar pre-test to see what they know. I've told them next week we'll do a grammar lesson on Thursday, when we have a single session. It's been years since I did actual grammar lessons as opposed to sitting down with them one at a time to discuss what they're doing, but it needs to be done. They were okay with the tenses, but I find that is the worst in general, always has been.

 Meanwhile, this morning, we had a brainstorm about whether dogs or cats made better pets. I think they enjoyed it - it's a very basic intro to "persuasion". A couple of them put up their hands to tell me about their own pets and I let them. They're barely out of Year 6, in their first three weeks at secondary school, and they were enjoying themselves. That's vital!

A very kind staff member who has retired sent me a file with a NAPLAN preparation sample. I will need to read that and see if I can fit it in soon.

So far so good, anyway - I think they're a pleasant class, fingers crossed they stay that way!

Three of them turned up in the library at lunchtime and joined Book Club - nice! I made them very welcome in hopes they will continue.

Because I'm teaching the same bunch of EAL kids as last year, I can't do everything the way we did - one session of grammar, one of Behind The News - so I've had a word with the EAL teacher and we've agreed, so far, to do a film text each.

We also have to do something called Literacy Buddies - I just got  my teacher pack today, need to get my head around it. It's a lot of work, which was why the EAL teacher had given up on it - she had too much else to do with them. But these classes are happening when other kids are doing Italian or Vietnamese, so no reason why we can't use the time for Literacy Buddies. The kids exchange letters with volunteers in a workplace, then meet them a couple of times. Two of us will be doing it this year, with Year 7 and Year 8.

Now I have a slightly higher reading level to teach, and activities that are not a lot like what I was doing before. I have had some help in adapting, both from my friend who used to teach this level and from the co-ordinator, who brought me a bag of goodies to use. I'm finding that with a bigger class - about three times the size of last year's -  I have to learn how to fit in more complex activities in the time. I used to be able to leave a reading list till the next day if the kids didn't get it, but we only do the reading lists twice a week. As a result, I'm only on to my second list in the two weeks we've been doing this. But the co-ordinator said that's fine - just take as long as it takes.

So I think I'm gradually getting there in that subject. But only gradually.

The library is gradually getting more kids coming at lunchtimes. The Year 7 kids have started to discover it. I think I have a few more kids interested in Book Club.

Now I have to find something to keep them entertained!

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