Saturday, March 11, 2006

Writin' and Ballin' (Who Stole My "g"s?)

Just about every day, I have my kiddos write for ten minutes at the start of class. They sometimes have a prompt to write to, but they always have the option to simply freewrite. I don't expect any of them to continue writing every day once they complete my class, but I think the process of writing improves the more you do it. I know there are studies that show that a certain number of minutes spent reading every day (I think the number is around 90) increases students' reading ability (the more you read, the higher your reading grade-level). And it doesn't matter what you read.

Of course, any study like that is mildly suspect, because you can't isolate kids for months and deny them any other stimulation except reading for 90 minutes a day. As a result, it might be possible that the kids who scored high on reading level assessments, who read for 90 minutes each day, also had parents who gave them opportunities to practice their verbal skills, or they also did alot of crosswords, or drank alot of apple juice, and that had some effect on their reading level. More than likely, this is not the case, but scientifically, you have to think it might be possible.

Anyway, my point is that I think writing everyday has some positive effect on my students' writing ability. Maybe they improve their handwriting a bit, maybe they become quicker thinkers when they have to brainstorm, maybe they get better at adding detail, or they become less "editorial" during the drafting phase (a quality that hinders many writers--they censor their ideas before they get a word on the paper, like writer's block, only it's self-imposed).

Right. Which leads me to the real point of all this: I write with my kids everyday. It's good practice to model what you ask kids to do, it shows them that I truly do take what I am asking them to do seriously, and I enjoy doing it. The past two days, I have been disappointed when the timer went off and I had to stop writing. And, I planned to bring my journal home and transfer my entries from the past two days here into "Central Standard," because I thought they were interesting. But, I left it at school. I may go up there at some point today (I have some serious organizing to do--it happens every year at this time, piles of papers and projects everywhere (it's the end of third quarter)), so maybe I'll get them up here, after all. I don't know. Then again, they may not be as interesting in 12-point black Times New Roman as they are in purple roller ball ATR's handwriting. We shall see.

The end of the week was good. I got a little bit of grading done (I went to the library). An odd episode occurred when I stopped into Panera, to grab some food and do a little work before going to the library. There in one booth was a foreign language teacher from my school. There in another was a social studies teacher and his family. I thought, "Hey, it's teacher night!" It was odd, but not too odd. This is still a small city (less than 100,000). I had the turkey and artichoke sandwich with a caesar salad (it was too warm for soup, as Monkey says). Not bad. I don't eat there a lot, and the sandwich didn't convince me that not eating their often is a bad thing, so....

Thursday night was terribly interesting. Here's what I did: played basketball, read the newspaper, went to bed at 9:45. Woo hoo! How on earth I make it to work every morning is beyond me! (Remember the days of going hard seven days a week and barely making it to work a) on time and b) able to function? I am kind of glad those days are gone, but they were fun, for a while.)

Yesterday was a moveable happy hour and disappointment as the Terps fell to Boston College in the ACC Tourney. Now, we in the Monkey House wait on pins and needles for Sunday, to see if the Terps are going to the Big Dance. Fingers are crossed. The Tigers lost in their first round Big 12 game to Nebraska (isn't it ironic?), so their season is officially done (it was done, for all intents and purposes, after they beat Kansas (1-11 after that)). And so, bracket madness is about to begin.

All that and a bag of chips.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that you write with your students every day. I didn't know you did that. If you do have a chance to add them to this here blog, I'd enjoy reading them.

It seems that the wetness evil that brought me to my knees is starting to subside. I was in a very bad way on Thursday and Friday and, in unusual form, filled myself with medications of all kinds and could barely move. Thankfully, today allowed for some enjoyment of the gorgeous weather here.

Sorry to hear about the Terps, and no big surprise but disappointing I'm sure for those rooting for Mizzou.